Why I Set My Murder in a Book Group by Maggie King
Book groups can be dangerous.
What a strange statement. Aren’t book groups’ places where you get to share your passion for books with like-minded people? Don’t book groups let you socialize and make new friends? Where’s the danger?
You can find the full range of human behavior at a book group and that can add up to one thing: conflict. There are the domineering sorts who take over the discussion with their non-stop chatter. Then there are the shy ones who are intimidated by the overbearing ways of the talkers. Conflicts arise over what to read and how the group should be conducted. Political differences get some up in arms. Others don’t read the assigned book. Some come only for the socializing and refreshments. No doubt about it, if you want conflict, a book group can satisfy that need.
But do these conflicts offer sufficient reason to commit murder? Hmm. People have killed for less. On the other hand, members of Congress haven’t resorted to killing each other. Yet.
How about some tantalizing secrets, a juicy scandal or two?
I joined my first book group in 1993. We read mysteries based on theme. I’d been reading Agatha Christie for years but there was a whole world of other mystery authors out there and I was ready to dive in. The women in the group were lovely—almost too lovely. I hadn’t yet started my writing career but I knew I was on my way when the what-if scenarios came to me unbidden—what if these women weren’t really so nice? What if this was all for show and they harbored secrets, agendas, hatreds? I gave them backstories and they became the prototypes for Murder at the Book Group.
In Murder at the Book Group, starring amateur sleuth Hazel Rose, members each read a different mystery based on a geographical setting and gather to discuss their selections. In chapter one, the group gathers to “travel” the state of Florida.
By the evening’s end, a member of the group is dead. And despite a suicide note found near her body, the suspicion of murder looms large. Did someone in the group kill her?
So next time you go to your nice little book group—watch out!
Maggie King is the author of Murder at the Book Group, published in 2014 by Simon and Schuster. She contributed the short story, “A Not So Genteel Murder,” to the Sisters in Crime anthology Virginia is for Mysteries. Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor.
Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive.
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