Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Chat with Meg Miller, a Detective After my Own Heart

Meg Miller is a character created by Phyllis H. Moore

Hello and welcome to a new interview with a cozy detective. Today we're talking to Meg Miller, a lovely lady who I proudly call my friend. Tell us, Meg, what was the first investigation you ever did? What was the last? Do you expect to do more investigations in the future?

Bertha, I know you must know this feeling. I found a dead body, and she was naked. Eventually, I would learn it was someone I knew. Wouldn’t you know, I was the only one in the house, and of course I was a suspect.

For ten years I was the organizer for the Victorian homes tour during the Dickens Festival. That year, I resigned for new blood to take over. I even gave my hooped petticoat away, thinking I wouldn’t need it. However when the new organizer, a young socialite, fell ill (little did I know that was facelift) at the last minute, I had to step in. That was the reason I found myself in Darrow House just hours before the tour and happened on a nude body in the upstairs bedroom.

Needless to say, we couldn’t carry on with the tour. There was crime scene tape everywhere. It was a fiasco. Part of me wanted to solve the crime because I wanted to clear my name. However, there was a bigger crime than the murder, and I knew it had something to do with that mega-church run by some shady guys I’d gone to high school with. They objectified women, lived in lavish homes, and drove the most expensive cars. When I knew the murder and those characters could be linked, I couldn’t back away from finding out what the heck was going on. It’s all written up in A Dickens of a Crime.

The last murder investigation I was involved with was when Tom Richards and I swapped houses for the summer. He rented a cottage on the beach on Galveston Island, Texas. My friend Jean got to spend some time with me there. I called the beach in front of my cottage Pelican Beach. That’s why the situation became Pelican Beach Murder. Jean saw the woman that piqued my interest, a hippie squatting in an abandoned house across the road. I was out of my element. Everyone in that little beach town, Jamaica Beach, knew everything about the Charles family. However, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I’ll tell you right now, Bertha, as God is my witness, I’ve never been that scared in all my life. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and every time I opened my mouth, the guy waved the gun and told me to shut up. I was lucky to get out of there alive. So, I don’t plan to intentionally solve a crime ever again.

However, I do have some mysteries in my own family I need to figure out. My mother died when I was young, and she left me knowing nothing about her family. I blame myself for not ever asking about them, but it wasn’t until I had my own grandchild that I realized the importance of that information. So wouldn’t you know that when an uncle died and left me an inheritance, I was floored. It opened a whole new mystery for me to sink my teeth into. That’ll be Mystery on Inheritance Ranch. I think it’ll all be solved by the fall. But, I tell you what, Bertha, nothing is as scary as looking into the faces of those who came before you and facing their flaws. I will keep solving mysteries when they present themselves, but I’m not seeking them.

From my experience, mysteries end up seeking us. I love the fact that you don't overlook the human element. To me, that's the most important thing. What’s your major strength while investigating a murder?

I think we’re close in age Bertha, so you’ll understand what I mean by “people skills.” No one talks to each other any more. They’re all glued to their electronic gadgets. Developing relationships is what I rely on. I plied the widower with cakes and casseroles. I offered to clean out his wife’s gigantic closet and donate her evening wear and furs. I attended the funeral at that disgusting mega-church with their valet parking and crystal chandeliers. In other words, I endeared myself so I could observe and listen to what they were saying about their deceased friend. I also befriended the victim’s twin step-daughters. One of them came to me for support.

Yes, I think my ability to develop relationships was my biggest asset in getting witnesses to Detective Crawford. However, all the credit goes to my cat, LaRue. If it hadn’t been for LaRue, I doubt the crime would have been solved. And another thing, and I know this sounds a little eerie. I began experiencing something that’s never happened to me before. At first it was a scent, then it was unexplained intuition. It’s so remarkable I can’t even tell you what it is. All I can say is I’m a believer now, and I trust my instincts.

I know how it is. It's amazing how much people open up when they realize you're listening to them. And what’s your major weakness while investigating a murder?

Like I mentioned, people are attached to these electronic devices. My weakness is I never remember to keep my cell phone charged. And, of all things, there’s a camera on there. Who knew? When Detective Crawford figured out I could get into the widower’s medicine cabinets and such, she made a veiled suggestion that I could take pictures instead of writing everything down. I can’t tell you the amount of time that’s saved me. I stood in that bathroom looking at my own face on that phone for a while, but finally I was snapping pictures of prescription bottles like a pro.

Yes, there’s been a learning curve with technology, but I think I’m getting there. I’m on the social media. At first, I only did it because my nephew lives in England and I live in Texas. I wanted to see the pictures of his children. After my brother told me I could be his friend on the computer (I didn’t even know what that meant), I had my daughter help me set up an account. Now, she says I’m a creeper. I do find out interesting things on those social media accounts and wouldn’t you know I’ve found murder weapons on there in photos. However, I have to remember not to comment. For heaven’s sake, there are so many new rules I don’t know about.

Well, the bottom line is I’m technologically challenged. If anyone touches the remote to my television, my heart stops. My car, television, watch, and telephone are all smarter than me and I can’t stand it, and I don’t want to read the directions. You see what I’m saying, Bertha?

Yes, I do! I'm not that skilled with technology myself. I still have a VHS movie collection, can you believe it?! Tell me, what’s your daytime occupation? How does it relate to your investigations?

Currently, I’m retired. I worked for my entire career as the head librarian in our community library. I know all of the people in county government and many people in the town because of my employment. I also know how to do research. That has come in handy. Again, I’ve had to learn to rely on the computer but I have all types of information at my fingertips.

My husband, God rest his soul, was the county attorney. I have the blessing and burden of his career, also. He’d prosecuted some of the people involved in that mega-church I mentioned before. They have a history of financial fraud that goes back to their deceased parents. Paul, that’s my husband, talks to me. I know, that’s a little eerie, but I started to listen. I don’t ignore intuition any longer, like I said before.

Another thing I do, since I’m retired, is volunteer. I have several organizations I enjoy working with. The Historical Foundation, sponsors the annual homes tour that I organized. That’s the reason I was at Darrow House. Needless to say, they were all atwitter that I found the dead body. My frequent trips to the police station during that time, it was Christmas, got me involved with the Blue Santa project. At the time, I didn’t have grandchildren, so it was fun to shop for children for Christmas. One of my favorite charities is Dress for Success, providing work clothing for women just entering the work force. That gave me the perfect excuse for helping Brian Hillard, the wealthy widower, clean out his wife’s closet to look for the murder weapon.

I may be working harder since I retired than I did when I had an 8 to 5. I bet you can identify with that, Bertha.

I surely do. I have been a housewife all my life, but ever since I started solving murders, my life turned into a roller coaster. And it makes me proud to help the police do their job. Is there anything you can do that the police can't?

I can eavesdrop and I’ve been known to do this from a closet. I don’t have to read the person their rights or obtain a search warrant. I can find evidence and then notify law enforcement so they can obtain a warrant. I can take a person a pound cake and look around the house. I wouldn’t ever want to have the restrictions of a professional.

A few times I’ve been snooping and had to hide in a nearby closet to wait for people to leave. It’s worked out just fine in a couple of instances, but once, wouldn’t you know it, the damn phone was charged and started ringing. That wasn’t a pretty scene because the guy that called me out had a gun. My heart’s never beat so fast. So, you see, the police have rules for a reason. I don’t like guns and I don’t carry one. The best thing that’s happened to me since I started paying attention to investigations is I’m not afraid to talk back any more. I can be a talker. My tongue can get me in trouble, but it can also get me out of trouble. If a person doesn’t have a gun, I will get in their face. Just ask Hal. I had to take him down a couple of pegs. How dare he try to manipulate me.

I admire law enforcement and appreciate the job they do. If I can help them in any way, I’m willing to do what I can. I don’t want to be an investigator or find any more dead bodies, but I seem to draw them to me. Mysteries of any kind beg me to solve them. Bertha, it gives me a purpose and I bet you can understand it when I say, everyone needs a purpose.

Everyone needs it, and nobody can forbid us from seeking it. Thank you for the lovely interview, Meg, and I hope to see you again soon!


Phyllis H. Moore wants to live life experiences more than once: doing it, writing about it, and reading about it. The atmosphere of the south draws her in and repels her. The characters are rich with dysfunction and redemption, real. She’s had two careers and two retirements. Both careers gave her inspiration for her novels: The Sabine Series, Sabine, Billy’s Story, Josephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House, Opal’s Story, Tangled, a Southern Gothic Yarn, and The Bright Shawl, Colors of Tender Whispers, The Ember Months, Birdie & Jude, and an anthology of spooky short stories inspired by real places and events, The Bridge on Jackson Road. In 2018 she also released a new genre for her, A Dickens of a Crime, a Meg Miller Cozy Mystery. She has authored one nonfiction book, Retirement, Now What? Phyllis has been published by Caffeinated Press in the anthology, Brewed Awakenings 2, Fifteen Tales to Jolt Your Mind Awake.



  1. Bertha:
    It was so nice talking to you and thank you for taking the time with me. I love to talk about my new past time. You stay safe, honey. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures. I got a new phone, so don't call me. I don't know how to answer it yet. Give me about a week.

  2. Oh, Bertha, I forgot to mention, A Dickens of a Crime is 99 cents in the Kindle Store all day today, Thursday 7-11.