I look in the mirror and laugh. Is that really my hair or did a cloud of chestnut-colored cotton candy land on my head? I may have gone overboard with the big hair look—but, as long as I fit in at the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premiere redneck bar, that’s the main thing.
I streak frosted blue shadow across my eyelids. The shade did nothing for my green eyes, but Eileen Thompson had insisted that blue was more redneck. She was quite firm on the point. The scarlet polish on my nails sparkle like Christmas lights.
When I emerge from the bathroom, Vince’s appreciative whistle says he likes the redneck me.
“It’s just for tonight,” I say. “This is way too much work.”
The day before I had made a thrift store run and created my outfit: a Harley Davidson two-sizes-too-small tank top that revealed an impressive display of Victoria’s Secret-created cleavage; jeans that I’d slashed in strategic places molded my bottom half; Eileen’s contribution of hand-tooled cowgirl boots completed the costume.
I assure my husband that he looks pretty hot himself in his snug jeans, Confederate T-shirt, and baseball cap.
My name is Hazel Rose and I write baby boomer romances. My husband Vince writes true crime accounts. We’re not rednecks and we’re not celebrating Halloween in June. So why our curious wardrobe choices?
It all started when Roxanne Howard, a high-powered executive, was found in a pool of blood outside of the Moonshine Inn. Brad Jones, Rox’s husband and my cousin, is the chief suspect. But the police can’t find any proof to arrest him and Rox’s sister is convinced that he didn’t kill his wife because he’s “such a nice man.”
The sister remembers that I found another woman’s killer years before and pleads with me to find Rox’s. I’m not so convinced of Brad’s innocence. And, since he won’t deign to speak to me, I’d hardly call him a nice man. But he’s family, and I believe you should do anything to help your family—even if it means going undercover at the disreputable Moonshine Inn where Vince and I planned to (carefully) pump the denizens for any information that could lead to Rox’s murderer.
My cousin Lucy suggested that I might get writing ideas at the Moonshine Inn. Redneck baby boomers having hot and steamy sex? Hmm.
At the bar, Vince parks by the chain link fence and dumpster where Rox’s body was found. Despite the heat, I shiver.
I suggest that we review some grammar that I learned from a website devoted to redneck dialog. Vince dismisses my preparation attempts, saying it will all come naturally. “Just leave the gs off words that end in ing.”
“Yes, but there’s more. Time is tahm, fine is fahn, and for is fer.”
“Fahn. The men will all be looking at your lovely assets and won’t notice if you talk like a Harvard professor. Come on, let’s go in and get this farce over with.”
I give my husband—rather, my old man in redneck parlance—a look and get out of the car.
“By the way, tonight your name is Ricky and mine is Shelby.” At Vince’s questioning look, I explain, “I got them from a database of redneck baby names.”
“Whatever you say, dear.”
We walk into the Moonshine Inn.
Murder at the Moonshine Inn is the second book in the Hazel Rose Book Group mystery series, published by Koehler Books, November 2016.
When high-powered executive Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premier redneck bar, the victim’s sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks–she’s a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox’s husband, is the prime suspect. He’s also Hazel’s cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won’t give her the time of day–he’s still family.
Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It’s not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad’s son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother’s death; Rox’s former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox’s employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn–or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox.
When a second murder ups the ante Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.
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About the author
Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including the recently-released Murder at the Moonshine Inn. She contributed the stories “A Not So Genteel Murder” and “Reunion at Shockoe Slip” to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies.
Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, 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. She enjoys reading, walking, movies, traveling, theatre, and museums.
All comments are welcomed.
Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Murder at the Book Group. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends November 24, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!