Guest Blogger: Marja McGraw

I write two mystery series. The first one, the Sandi Webster Mysteries, is about a young female private investigator who has a boyfriend, a menopausal mother and friends. Although they form a type of family, they don’t go home to each other every night.

The other series, the Bogey Man Mysteries, involves Chris Cross, his wife Pamela, a seven-year-old stepson named Mikey, and two yellow Labrador retrievers (Sherlock and Watson). Let me assure you that although they’re not your typical Ozzie & Harriet or Brady Bunch family, they are a lot of fun.

Chris bears a striking resemblance to Humphrey Bogart. From time to time, when it suits his purpose, he walks the walk and talks the talk, just like Bogey did in his private eye movies. Chris met Pamela at a costume party in a book from the Sandi Webster series titled, The Bogey Man. He became embroiled in a murder mystery, and made a name for himself. He was so popular in that book that I gave him his own series, along with Pamela. When Chris and Pamela met, she was a widowed mother working two jobs, including one as a waitress at a diner. Pamela had a six-year-old son to support.

Chris and Pamela own a forties-themed restaurant called Bogey Nights, which just happens to be the name of the first book in this series. Running a restaurant is no eight to five job, and this couple has to work their personal lives into what little remaining time they have in each day. However, they do enjoy their jobs, and along with the forties theme, they wear vintage clothing and have waiters and waitresses who resemble famous people, like Marilyn Monroe and Myrna Loy.

The original restaurant burns to the ground and Chris and Pamela purchase a 1920s brick house to convert into a restaurant. This is where Sherlock and Watson come into the story. By the way, Sherlock is a male and Watson is a female. So, anyway, while they’re working on the renovation, the dogs find a dead body buried in the basement of the old house. The victim has been there since 1942, and might never have been found if it weren’t for the Labs. Relatives of the victim ask Chris and Pamela to try to determine who killed their loved one, and they find that they can’t say no to a mystery.

Speaking of the Labs, they love to be in the thick of things, but that doesn’t always work to their advantage. When the telephone rings in the Cross kitchen, Sherlock invariably races Chris to answer it and he generally slides into the wall, head first. Watson just watches with a look that seems to say, What an idiot. They are loving dogs, but still have occasional outbursts of typical Labrador retriever behavior. If you don’t know what that is, you might read Marley & Me. Everything that the author, John Grogan, says about Labs is true.

Along comes Mikey, who’s thrilled that his parents are involved in a murder mystery. Unfortunately, he tells all the kids at school about the dead body in the basement, and the kids dream up a new game called Private Eye. No one is killed in their little game, but one of the kids lays down on the ground and pretends to be the victim. The other children try to follow clues and find out who the bad guy is. Also, unfortunately, Mikey’s teacher just about has a fit. Mikey’s best friend, Danny, doesn’t help because he’s always spurring Mikey on. By the way, Mikey wants nothing more than to have Chris adopt him, and Chris is more than willing. They take a giant step away from the stepfather/stepson image.

So this is the family; a father who looks and talks like Bogey, a mother who wears vintage clothing and helps Chris work his cases, a child who wants nothing more than to become involved in one of his parents’ cases, and two yellow Labs who have a nose for trouble. Is this your typical family? Not at all. If you have a chance, try reading Bogey Nights and find out just how much fun this little family can be. While other kids are home playing games, Mikey is peeking around the skirts of their family friend and babysitter, Constance, trying to see if there’s a new case on the horizon.

Thank you, Susie, for allowing me to tell a little about the Crosses. They’re a very cool family.

Marja McGraw has past experience in both criminal and civil law enforcement, and she occasionally calls on this experience when writing her mysteries. She also owned an antique store/tea room, worked in state transportation, and recently worked for a city building department. She’s lived in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona. She writes two series: the Sandi Webster Mysteries (female P.I.), and the Bogey Man Mysteries (amateur P.I. husband and wife team), both of which take place in Los Angeles. With her love of dogs, she’s included two yellow Labrador retrievers and a half Golden retriever/half wolf in her stories. Her hobby is photography, and she says that writing as a job is the most fun she’s ever had. She and her husband now live in Arizona, where life is good.


14 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Marja McGraw

  1. Marja,

    I love your definition of family. It’s fun and different and makes for an effective mystery. And I like the way you bring the dogs into the story. It sounds like a good read.

  2. Marja: Don’t you use your own pets as fodder for the dogs’ antics? The stories you told me about your family dog had me in stitches. Or maybe I’m remember our talks about the book. I can’t remember which but I do remember laughing really hard! Wendy

  3. Well, Wendy, we now have a new Lab named Murphy, in addition to old Sugar. Picture a 3-month-old (almost 30 lbs) puppy tripping my husband who fell into the swimming pool and hurt his knee. This boy is gonna be a BIG dog. And old Sugar is actually only a little more than a year old. She’s learned that if she’s a naughty dog and she’s about to go on “time out”, she can throw herself on the floor and roll over on her back and we can’t get her up for her time out. They’re both too smart for our own good. The dogs in the book are part Sugar and (soon) Murphy, and part their brother from another litter and their mother.

  4. Marja, I can hardly wait to read BOGEY NIGHTS. It’s on my list to buy the minute I get my “May money” and so is your PRUDY book. They should both be best sellers! Pat

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