Next week, I’ll be back with more mystery fiction featuring dogs. In the meantime, here’s another author who serves up mystery with a dash of humor. If you like characters who don’t take themselves too seriously, then you’ll want to get to know Madison Johns, a fellow member of Sisters in Crime. I’ll let Madison tell you the story in her own words:
When I began writing at the age of forty-four, I never imagined I’d make it onto the USA Today Bestsellers list a whopping three times. Sure, my Agnes Barton Senior Sleuths Mystery books are Amazon bestsellers, but USA Today?
Although sleep-deprived from working third shift, I knew if I used what I’d learned while caring for senior citizens, the result would be something quite unique. And it was! The Agnes Barton Senior Sleuths mystery series has forever changed my life, with each of the books making it onto the Amazon bestseller’s list for cozy mystery and humor.
“Agnes Barton Senior Sleuths Mysteries, where mystery meets the funny bone.”
My Agnes Barton series features Agnes Barton, who’s 72 years old, and her larger-than-life best friend Eleanor Mason who came out of retirement to investigate crimes. They live in and around East Tawas, Michigan, on the shores of Lake Huron. Through the course of the books they have gotten into more mischief than your typical senior citizen, but somehow managed to outwit the local sheriff. They’ve dabbled in everything from disappearances, murders, cold case murders, aliens, ghosts, treasure, and now Bigfoot. I’ve tried to keep readers guessing: just what will Agnes and Eleanor do next time?
I’ve based the series on East Tawas, Michigan, which is on the picturesque shores of Lake Huron on the eastern side of the state. It was one of my favorite vacation spots as a child and it seemed fitting to base the series there. While the town sure has changed through the years, it’s still as beautiful as ever. Besides setting, my series is very much character driven. Agnes and Eleanor don’t always get along with everyone in town and I have added plenty of interesting if quirky characters. They both have love interests, which makes for a very interesting angle for any senior-aged lady.
Scroll down this page a bit and you’ll find information about the very talented mystery writer Marja McGraw. Since that post, I’ve been reading the first book in her Sandi Webster mystery series, A Well-Kept Family Secret. If you’ve made a note to read this series, add this book to the top of your “must read” list!
A great cast of characters and a well-crafted mystery set the stage for this terrific read. There are actually two stories—one a century-old murder, the other a contemporary tale—converging in a highly satisfying conclusion. Writing two different time lines can be tricky, but Marja handles it beautifully. I don’t often read mysteries with a private investigator as the main character, but Sandi Webster is endearing, and downright funny at times. She’s surrounded by quirky relatives and friends, all of whom want to be involved in the investigation. As you might imagine, that can create some interesting situations!
I already have book #2 on my “must read” list, and eager to see what Sandi and friends get up to next. Thanks, Marja, for an entertaining read!
UPDATE: Marja’s in the process of moving her website and blog. I’ll post the new links as soon as she’s up and running. Meanwhile, you can reach her by leaving a comment here.
I’m proud to be part of a network of mystery writers who support and encourage each other. While we’re all different—and that’s reflected in our writing style—we share a common love for mystery fiction and for series that include dogs and other animals. This week, I’d like you to meet award-winning author Jinx Schwartz, who writes the best-selling Hetta Coffey mystery series. Book #6 (Just Needs Killin’ ) is scheduled for release in July 2014. Here’s what she has to say about the series and her main character:
Hetta is a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she’s not afraid to use it! Who knew a woman living on a boat could collect so many animal friends?
My readers seem to be all over the map—literally! Men and women (from twenty-somethings to ninety-somethings) of many nationalities enjoy Hetta’s adventures. Readers say they love the books for their humor, and let’s face it, escapist adventure. With Hetta they are transported into the world of sea adventures, exotic locations, and yes, that element of danger and romance we all love.
Reading, for me, is the best of entertainment, and I strive to entertain. And while Hetta is a woman, many of my male readers like her snarkiness, spunk, and heck, she has a boat!
Hetta’s adventures began way before I ever wrote a book. I was a perpetually single woman with a desire for change, so I bought a large yacht as a man trap and moved aboard. Did it work? Yep. The humorous side of buying a boat for all the wrong reasons, then falling in love with living on the water was the inspiration for Just Add Water, the first in the series.
The Hetta Coffey Mystery Series
Just the Pits is the fifth book in the series. Hetta is in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, and living on her boat while she tackles a new project at a Baja copper mine.
While her actual job description is somewhat vague, she’s been hired by her mentor, Fidel Wontrobski (his father was a Polish communist, thus the name) who knows Hetta as a problem solver, albeit not always in the most lawful of ways. As a civil engineer, she specializes in Materials Management, and soon discovers significant budget overruns are not the only mystery: employees are disappearing as well. Is it a conspiracy?
She and her friend, Jan, go after the perpetrators, but are also on a mission to rescue a pitiful pup stranded on a forlorn and treacherous highway. As if perps and pups aren’t enough of a challenge, an old enemy surfaces and sets them up as possible murder suspects, making the entire debacle just the pits.
Get to know Jinx on Facebook. To see all her books and get updates about the series, be sure to visit her website. You can find her work in trade paperback, digital, and audio editions.
UPDATE: Jinx is running a special promotion of Just Add Water(the first in the series) in early May. The book opens with a man, under investigation for fraud, preparing to make himself disappear into thin air from Tokyo. From there, we jump ahead five years and … well, you can read an excerpt for yourself here. Then mark your calendars for May 1st, when you can get a copy of Just Add Water FREE!
Can’t get a man? Just Add Water. FREE May 1st – 5th
I’m delighted to introduce readers to Marja McGraw, a talented writer with over ten books to her credit—and more in the works! A native of Southern California, she’s lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona in jobs ranging from civil and criminal law, to state transportation, to print and digital media. While a member of Sisters in Crime, Marja served as Editor for the organization’s Internet Newsletter. She and her husband now live in Arizona, where life is good.
Here’s Marja, telling us about her current work:
I have two series which include canines. The Sandi Webster Mysteries involve a half wolf/half Golden Retriever who’s also half protector/half chicken. The Bogey Man Mysteries include two Yellow Labrador Retrievers, brother and sister, who have a knack for sniffing out bodies and mysteries.
Both series are light reading with a little humor. While there’s nothing funny about murder, you can find humor in the characters solving a case and the situations in which they find themselves. The books concentrate more on solutions than drama.
Most of the stories take place in Los Angeles, which is big enough to account for plenty of crime, and a great place to lose yourself. I’ve thought about—and asked—what readers might be interested in. I’ve learned people still enjoy reading about secret passages, hidden rooms, and buried treasures. They like a good “on a stormy night” story. Readers also enjoy characters they can relate to, and who might make them laugh or smile. I’ve tried to provide all of these things, along with a little history if the story involves a cold case.
The stories are somewhat unusual, either in the subject matter or how they’re solved. The characters are down-to-earth and easy to read.
My target audience? Anyone who enjoys a mystery. The characters in the books range from a child to seniors and everyone in between. I currently have readers in their teen years up to and including readers in their nineties. It’s an open market for a reader of any age.
“A little humor, a little romance, A Little Murder!”
The Sandi Webster Mysteries
Sandi’s a female private investigator who’s a little naïve but growing all the time. From the streets of Los Angeles to the desert in Arizona, mysteries involving cold cases and new situations follow Sandi and her partner, Pete. From the Red Light District in Old Los Angeles, a dog who thinks there’s a ghost in the attic, a 1940s female P.I. who wants an old case solved now, and a ghost town, you never know what you’ll find in the series to ponder and puzzle over. You’ll even find a look-alike for Humphrey Bogart who evolved into a second series.
Death Comes in Threes is the latest release in the Sandi Webster Mystery Series. Sandi was instrumental in putting David Smith in prison for murder. What’s he been up to during his prison time? He’s murdered a guard and escaped, and he’s coming after Sandi. To make matters worse, her menopausal mother, her elderly neighbor, and her closest friend are all in danger because they won’t leave her side. Are the four women a match for a vengeful killer?
Maybe he’s not a match for them.
The Bogey Man Mysteries
This series features Chris Cross, who’s a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart. Chris wanted to become a detective until he found out what it involves. Married with an eight-year-old stepson, he tries his hardest to live a calm life while running a forties-themed restaurant. His wife, Pamela, tells the stories about their latest adventures. The family which might remind some of the Thin Man family; they’re always looking for either clues or a way to get their lives back to normal.
Even though he changed his mind about the profession, mysteries continue to seek Chris out. He gained a little notoriety when he worked with a female private eye, and folks just won’t let him forget that case. Some sweet little Church Ladies even call on him when a friend disappears under mysterious circumstances.
Awkward Moments is the latest release in the Bogey Man Mystery Series. What might happen if you tried to bury the body of a small bird, only to find a body already buried in the hole you’ve dug? And what might happen if another body ended up in the same hole?
Join Chris, Pamela and Mikey Cross while they try to figure out why someone would be murdered during their vacation, on private property, during the middle of the night. Watch for Chris’s cranky brother to show up unexpectedly, searching for lost gold and running people off of his property.
The Cross family is at it again, just like the amateur sleuths they swear they never meant to be.
Follow this author!
Marja’s mystery blog features an entertaining new post every Monday. Check her website, too, for news and updates on the series, as well as great photos and links. You can find links to book trailers like this one, too.
To order paperback or Kindle editions, check her Amazon page. And please consider posting a review!