The Crimson Hat Queen: Meet the Characters of Magnolia Bluff

Her followers are arrogant and quick to look down their noses at anyone who does not measure up to their social standing.

Every small town has one, the self-proclaimed, self-anointed queen of society.

She thinks she runs the town.

She has money.

She has friends who do her every bidding.

They want to stay on her good side.

They want to be invited to her parties.

They want to be viewed as part of the town’s upper social class.

In Death Wears a Crimson Hat, they are the disciples of Mary Lou Fight.

And Mary Lou is the Queen of the Crimson Hat Society.

Don’t believe me?

Just ask her

In general, her followers are arrogant and quick to look down their noses at anyone who does not measure up to their social standing.

They are the Gossips.

The Backbiters.

And the Character Assassins.

Lose the favor of Mary Lou Fight, and you might as well pack up and leave town.

She will make your life a living hell.

And she will enjoy every minute of it.

CW Hawes, the author of Death Wears a Crimson Hat.

The Reverend ember cole walked through the door of the Really Good Wood-Fired Coffee Shop at precisely five minutes after one and froze.

There, in the corner, Mary Lou Fight was holding court with the five members of her Crimson Hat Society, all decked out in their red hats, yellow feather boas, and indigo attire.

Mary Lou and her husband Gunter were prominent, very prominent members of Ember’s church. And an unrelenting source of grief for her.

Scarlett Hayden saw her and waved.

The only honest one in the bunch, Ember thought and waved back. She proceeded to the counter where Harry was standing at the end opposite from where Mary Lou was holding court. The eyes of the Queen of the Crimson Hats followed Ember.

The Reverend took a seat, and Harry handed her a menu. “I know you don’t need this, but ol’ eagle-eye is watching us.”

“And I bet her mouth is still talking to her flock.”

“It is. And was that a note of disdain I heard? Isn’t that a sin or something?”

“That woman makes the Devil look like Gabriel.”

“You know what they say: there’s telephone, telegraph, but don’t tell Mary Lou.”

Ember smiled. “I don’t think that’s how it goes.”

“But it’s the truth.”

“That it is.”

*

From the large entryway, he followed her through a door on the right into a room that was probably twice the size of his coffee shop. The maid left and closed the door.

A fireplace was along one wall, a white grand piano was at the far end, and an assortment of sofas and chairs formed areas for people to sit and engage in conversation. Paintings hung on the walls, and large windows essentially replaced the walls at the far end of the room.

From one of the sofas in the middle of the room, Mary Lou Fight stood. She wore a cream-colored dress. The only accent Harry could see was the strand of pearls she wore around her neck.

“Mr. Thurgood, to what do I owe the honor of your visit?”

“I wanted to see how the other half lives.”

She arched an eyebrow. “Have a seat.” She indicated a chair. Harry walked to it and sat after Mary Lou had returned to her seat on the couch.

“And what do you think, Mr. Thurgood?” she purred.

“What I’ve always suspected. The other half lives quite well.”

“Jesus said that we’ll always have the poor with us. I suppose, by implication, that also means the rich will always be with us as well. Wouldn’t you rather be rich?”

“I’d rather be happy.”

She smiled at his reply and asked if he’d like something to drink. “I’m having tea.”

“No, thank you. But you go ahead.”

She rang a bell. The maid appeared. “Tea, please, Gabriela.” The maid nodded and departed.

She turned back to Harry. “I suppose you heard about Louisa Middlebrook.”

“I did. Tragic. Can’t figure out why someone would feel the need to kill her.”

“She was one of my girls. It is very sad, and I don’t understand it either.”

*

Mary Lou watched Harry leave. She raised her teacup to her lips and sipped tea.

Perhaps I underestimated that lounge lizard, she thought.

She took another sip of tea, set the cup in the saucer, and set them on the coffee table.

She stood, walked to one of the floor-to-ceiling windows, and looked out on her world.

“I think it’s time to teach Mr. Thurgood, if that’s even his name, a lesson.” A smile touched her lips. “Yes, this is a job for Hunter. He’ll find all the dirt hiding in your closet Harry Thurgood, and with it — I will break you!”

Her laughter filled the room.

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