Deacon of the Dead



Deacon of the Dead: A Second Chance Inn Cozy Mystery
by MJ O’Neill

About Deacon of the Dead 


Deacon of the Dead: A Second Chance Inn Cozy Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Georgia
Sweet Devotions (October 10, 2023)
Print length ‏ : ‎ 274 pages
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0CK6LN21S


Come Sit a Spell in Clinton, Georgia. Home to Southern Sass, Romance, Murder, and (Fake) Zombie Fun – a charming cozy mystery book series from award-winning author MJ O’Neill

Who Knew Fake Zombies Could Stir Up Such Real Trouble?
When Harmony Holt’s daddy lands in the hospital putting their family inn on the brink of foreclosure, she’s dragged back to her quirky hometown, Clinton, Georgia, with an unconventional rescue plan: zombies. Well, zombie tours to be precise. As autumn unveils its colors, she concocts a daring plan to intertwine the town’s newfound fame as film site for the hit TV show Walker, Zombie Ranger with it’s upcoming fall festival, all to save her family’s legacy—and ideally, while dodging any awkward encounters with her ex, Seth.

But when Deacon Miller, a vocal opponent of her undead tourism idea, is found murdered in the middle of her zombie-fueled grand opening, shot with her inn’s gun, no less, she’s in a heap of trouble on both fronts. Now, with her tour permit hanging by a thread, land snatchers are clamoring for a piece of her property, and the local businesses that banked on her venture are in the lurch. To top it off, she’s prime suspect in the Deacon’s murder. Her sole beacon of hope? Sheriff Seth Johnson, her ex.

Is it a Second Chance at Love or a Second Chance for Murder?
Dive into this fall treat by award-winning author MJ O’Neill, a unique blend of cozy mystery and romance, sprinkled with Southern sass and autumn charm. Can Harmony save her family legacy and find where her heart truly belongs, or are some secrets better kept whispered in regrets?

About MJ O’Neill

MJ O’Neill is an award-winning author, entrepreneur, and literacy advocate.

Her love of mysteries started as a dyslexic child who relied on Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden to get through the dreaded book report. Now, she is a fierce advocate for literacy and stands firm against literary censorship.

Her professional writing adventure began when she owned a chocolate factory where writing mysteries was a safer bet than “murdering customers”. Currently, you might spot MJ rambling around the Pacific Northwest in her jeep, with her teenager and fierce Yorkie, on the hunt for bigfoot and her next captivating tale.

Q&A With the Author:

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

This book was such a fun time! We had only been living in the North Georgia Mountains for a short time when I started working on this. We actually lived not too far from the Walking Dead film site and when I was out exploring with my kiddo one day, the idea struck and wouldn’t let me go. Kind of like a clingy zombie ☺. A zombie film site seemed the perfect place for a cozy mystery.

As with any cozy, once I have a core idea, the next part is filling in the fun cast of characters. All of my books tend to have a wide cast and this series is no different. From a stripper turned Mayor to a moonshining genius, a Goth diner owner and Harmony’s sassy, Southern male bestie, Clinton is full of quirky characters that are fun to write. Plus, I get to channel my inner Southerner.

Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?

Yes! Book 1.5 in this series, the Christmas novella Walker Wonderland, Holiday Heist, is debuting this week, Harmony, Wade and Seth are back in action saving Christmas, well her arch rival’s Christmas ornaments, anyway. Amidst filming of the Walker Wonderland TV special, a lineup of Scrooge-like suspects has Harmony racing to reclaim the town's Christmas spirit before the final carol fades.

Book two in the series, Brewed in Betrayal will be out January, 2nd alongside the second book in my Sharp Dressed Corpse series The Corpse Wore a Sombrero. It’s fitting these books are coming out on the same day, because they tie for my favorite things I’ve written. 

Brewed in Betrayal finds Harmony up to her eyeballs in Hollywood hijinks when she agrees to host the ApocaLove Quest in conjunction with the live premier of Walker, Zombie Ranger, but the contest turns deadly when a cupid's arrow becomes a murder weapon, and her best friend's mother is accused. Amidst the Walker Zombie Ranger TV show buzz, Harmony’s sifting through secrets and betrayals to clear her name and catch a killer before her inn's reputation—and her love life—crumble like a poisoned cookie. The contest parts were super fun to write. Think Amazing Race meets zombies!

In the Corpse Wore a Sombrero, former socialite turned morgue employee Kat Waters finds herself back in the crosshairs of the mob, who dump freezer with a dead body sporting a sombrero over his manly bits and an invitation she can’t refuse. If she finds the murderer, they’ll give her what she needs to spring her dad from the slammer. This book has Grand front in center in a storage wars type event and sassy granny Grand is always a hoot.

Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?

More murder and mayhem. Since selling my chocolate factory in Atlanta and moving to Portland, Oregon to be closer to family this year, I’ve had way more time to write. 

Next year, will see two more books in the Second Chance Inn series – Murder on the Menu which will be out in March and one I haven’t titled yet, slated for early summer. The last book in the Sharp Dressed Corpse Series, The Corpse Wore Couture will be coming in late summer.

On the more serious side of the murder spectrum, my YA mystery, The Forgiven, will finally be published in the summer. It’s taken a while for this one to find a publishing home, but I’m really proud of it. It’s about a teen art prodigy with amnesia from a deadly car accident who thinks God is asking her to forgive three people in order to get her memory and her talent back. 

I’m also hoping to add thrillers to my genre list as well. The Promises We keep was just named a finalist for Best Suspense at Killer Nashville and is looking for a publishing home. It tells the story of three siblings who made a deal with a serial killer that they wouldn’t tell about him if he didn’t come for them that unravels in their adulthood.

Finally, I’m tackling two new series. A set of romantic comedy novellas, Cupid’s Cookbook, and a new cozy series, Murder in Moses Rock, a Pawn Shop Cozy Mystery Series. The first books in Cupid’s Cookbook, Confectionately Yours and Street Food Serendipity are in editing now and slated for the spring. It was fun to write books that drew from my chocolate shop background. Moses Rock’s first book Hocked to Death is about two grammy’s on the run from their late husband’s shady business partners that get stranded in Moses Rock, Washington and use their antiquing experience to land a job a pawn shop. It’s all good until the owner turns up dead. I have a ton of books planned out for this series, so I’m excited.

I’ve also promised my agent to finally get my nonfiction book finished next year. I’m a certified project manager and have a coaching business helping creative people with time management. I’m aiming to have The Creative Clock out next fall.

How long have you been writing?

Like a lot of writers, I can’t really think of time when I wasn’t writing. I have dyslexia and mysteries like Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden saved me as a kid. It was a natural genre fit when I started going down a publishing path. My first novel, The Corpse Wore Stilettos, debuted in 2019.

Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?

In 2019, right after the launch of my debut, my family absorbed the loss of my husband. The outpouring of support, including many from on the Great Escapes tour, was phenomenal. And many of you kept cheering me on to get back to my writing. A big heartwarming thank you from me and my family as we settle in to this second chapter of our lives. I hope everyone who may be looking for their own second chapter finds a little comfort in my stories.

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  1. I love finding "new to me" authors and this book sounds like a great read! Thank you!


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