Three cheers for Patty Allen and Morgen Bailey! You’re the lucky winners of our most recent giveaway. Marja McGraw (hello@marjamcgraw dot com) is waiting to hear from you so she can deliver your audiobook to your inbox.
I’m a big fan of Marja’s books, and hope you enjoy them too!
Earlier this year, I featured the talented writer Marja McGraw on this website. You might remember that Marja and I have both written novels that include the tangled web of family, friends, treasure, and (of course!) murder.
Read our work and you’ll see we’ve taken a different approach to our tales. My series is set in the Ozarks, for example, while Marja’s work is rooted in Arizona, California, and other points west. I have an amateur sleuth who runs a boarding kennel and dog training business, while Marja’s Sandi Webster mysteries features a private investigator.
That brings us to this week’s guest post, written by my colleague, Marja McGraw. To celebrate the recent release of the audio edition of A Well-Kept Family Secret we’re giving away copies to two lucky winners! All you have to do is leave a comment for a chance to win.
There are two ways to leave a comment here. The easiest way is to click on the title of this post and then scroll all the way to the bottom of the page that opens. You’ll see the comments already posted, and below that you can add your own. The second way is to click on “Comments” in the line below the “Posted in” section at the very end of the post. If you run into difficulty posting a comment here, please drop by my Facebook Author page or Marja’s Facebook Author page and leave a comment. We’ll keep track of all the entries–wherever they’re posted–and draw the winners on November 24th. Be sure to bookmark this page and check back!
If You Were a Private Investigator, Would You Take This Case?
For just a few minutes, let your imagination run away with you. What type of case might pique your interest if you were a private investigator? Imagine it involved a situation that occurred a very long time ago. I mean so long ago that there are no survivors from that era.
What if someone came to you and asked you to solve a mystery that took place over one hundred years ago? Let’s say it’s a crime that took place in the late 1800s and you have no idea how to solve it.
Now I want you to add a degree of difficulty. What if the person who wanted you to solve the crime was your menopausal mother? Let’s say your mother could be unrelenting because the incident involved an ancestor. Would you take the case? Don’t forget, you’ve got other clients to take care of no matter how much your mother pushes you.
I grew up hearing stories about a great-great-grandfather, who along with another man, ran the Red Light District in Old Los Angeles and who was notorious throughout the Southwest. These weren’t your typical Grandpa stories. He wasn’t a nice man.
Curiosity made me do a little research about him and Old Los Angeles. I found some interesting information which made me dig a little deeper. Then I read an article in the newspaper about the old District being dug up when a new parking lot was to be installed at Union Station in Los Angeles in the 1990s.
Aha! I contacted Adrian Praetzellis of Sonoma College, the lead archaeologist involved in the research of this area. He turned out to be a fountain of information and sent me a CD that included both information about the Red Light District and Old Los Angeles in general.
Things fell into place for me and I knew I had to write a mystery about the past and include a man with little conscience. A Well-Kept Family Secret found its way into my imagination.
There were so many possibilities, and I was able to include little snippets of history. In 1903 the infamous Carrie Nation led a march of reformers into the Red Light District. She lectured women in the area, and several even seemed to listen to her. She’d been arrested a few days earlier during one of her marches for “parading without a license”, and left shortly after her visit to the Red Light District. Who knew? My image of her was one of her holding an axe and marching on saloons. The District was located in the old Chinatown area. Little things help set the scene.
Back to using your imagination, how could you possibly solve a murder that took place so many years ago? Could you positively prove your relative didn’t commit the murder? You never know where research might lead you.
Oh, and there’s the added element of hidden riches in the story, which was loosely based on a family legend. Word has it that my great-great-grandfather hid gold and silver coins worth a lot of money somewhere in Los Angeles. I found a newspaper article about people still searching for it as late as the 1940s.
Have I piqued your interest or imagination yet? Read about it in A Well-Kept Family Secret, or better yet, listen to the story in audio book format. With people’s busy lives today, an audio book can be a treasure.
Leave a comment for a chance to win an audio book!
We’re celebrating the dog days of summer by offering the Kindle edition of Deadly Ties at a special sale price of just $2.99 for a limited time. This is the first in the Waterside Kennels series; if you want to see how the story began, here’s your chance!
Book #2 in the series is due for release this fall, with book #3 on track for publication next year. While you’re waiting, here’s more dog-related mystery fiction to enjoy. Read on for a sample of some of my favorite authors who have been so generous to writers and readers alike. We all share the common bond of dogs in our books, but you’ll find considerable diversity in the way we write our traditional mysteries. I hope you enjoy browsing this list. Perhaps you’ll discover a “new to you” series!
Poodle lovers, rejoice! Laurien Berenson‘s Melanie Travis mystery series continues, and it just keeps getting better. I’ve been a fan for years, and have been delighted to see new additions to this long-running series. (Want to read from the beginning? Start with A Pedigree to Die For.) Here’s the description for Gone with the Woof, #16 in the series:
Despite a toddler and a house full of Standard Poodles, Melanie Travis can’t pass up an opportunity to help legendary dog breeder Edward March pen his life story. But her enthusiasm flags when the breeder’s angry son Andrew demands she stop working on the book. Why becomes imperative once Andrew is killed by a seemingly intentional hit-and-run and Melanie becomes Suspect #1. To get herself out of the dog house, Melanie sniffs out every possible clue, only to run into dead ends as fast as she’s running out of time. And the longer the killer stays unleashed, the sooner she may end up in the dog house for good.
Brute Strength continues Susan Conant’s wonderful Dog Lover’s Mystery Series. (You can see the entire list of titles here, as well as other books written by this very talented author.) Publishers Weekly said that “…series fans should enjoy spending time with familiar characters, the warm humor, and the dog lore.” Here’s the description from the Amazon book page:
When Dog’s Life columnist Holly Winter rejects applicants who want to adopt homeless dogs, she makes a lot of enemies. In dogs Holly trusts, and the dogs she trusts most are her beloved malamutes, Rowdy, Kimi and Sammy. But right now she could use a human friend. Lately, it seems wherever she turns, things go wrong: an anonymous call turns vicious, her husband is keeping secrets, and acquaintances die under mysterious circumstances. Then Holly’s own life is threatened. Can the brute strength of Rowdy, Kimi, and Sammy protect her?
Susan J. Kroupa
Dog-nabbed is the third book in the Doodlebug Mystery Series. This author is one of my favorites! Susan J. Kroupa writes a terrific, laugh-out-loud series featuring a dog as narrator. You can read them in any order, too. Here’s the description from the Amazon sales page:
What’s not to love about a trip the Blue Ridge Mountains? Doodle has a blast—biggest yard ever, plus wild turkeys to chase–while Molly visits her grandparents. But then Molly’s good friend, Lizzie, begs for help. Lizzie’s father, under the influence of a self-proclaimed prophet named Zeke, forbids Lizzie to see anyone not approved by Zeke–not even Lizzie’s desperately ill grandmother. Defying Zeke, Molly and Lizzie meet secretly in the woods where a discovery makes Molly think Zeke’s hiding something. But how can she prove it?
As for Doodle, he loves all these hikes through the woods. Until he and Molly, hot on Zeke’s trail, end up lost—seriously, not his fault—and Doodle discovers that while it’s no fun being lost, it can be even worse to be found—by the wrong person.
If you’ve visited my site before, you’ll know I’m a big fan of cozy mysteries that aren’t your typical “formula” novel. I enjoy light humor, minimal violence, and an intriguing story line. You get all three in the Bogey Man Mystery Series authored by Marja McGraw. Here’s the description of Awkward Moments, Book #4 in the 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.
If you’re a fan of rescue dogs and enjoy mysteries that have a bit more suspense and a little more romance than your typical cozy, then you definitely want to check out the Lia Anderson Mystery Series. Author C. A. Newsome has rescue dogs of her own, and brings that experience to the table when writing the series. The first in the series is A Shot in the Bark and a great addition to the world of dog-related fiction. Here’s the description you’ll find on her website:
Would you recognize a serial killer if you met one? Talked to one every day?
Artist Lia Anderson doesn’t, and neither does anyone else who frequents the Mount Airy Dog Park. But a violent death brings Detective Peter Dourson into the close-knit group, and he is convinced someone is not who they seem. As the investigation uncovers secrets, Lia struggles to cope with warring emotions and a killer watches.
Sue Owens Wright
“Welcome to the Bark Side of Mystery!” That’s the greeting you’ll find on the website of Sue Owen Wright, a gifted author who’s earned the prestigious Maxwell Medallion by the Dog Writers Association of America. I absolutely love this series. (After all, who couldn’t love a Basset Hound?)
When Beanie volunteers to foster a homeless basset hound from Lakeside Animal Shelter, she’s headed for calamity one way or another. Beanie and Cruiser are on the crime trail once again after a reviled shelter manager is discovered euthanized. Tahoe Animal Impoundment Liberation Society (TAILS), is a prime suspect in her murder, but there are plenty of other suspects among South Lake Tahoe’s irate dog lovers, including the grieving owner of Gilda, an ill-fated basset rumored to haunt the shelter.
If Beanie doesn’t have enough trouble unleashed on her with another murder to solve and daughter Nona’s health scare, foster dog Calamity is living up to her name, creating havoc at the MacBean house. With all her behavioral issues, this crazy hound could make a dog whisperer scream. Beanie is eager to find an adopter for Calamity at the upcoming Basset Waddle fundraiser for a new no-kill animal shelter, but Calamity has other ideas.
There are many more great writers out there, just waiting for you to discover them! You can find these authors and other great books at the touch of your keyboard. Find us on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. Try searching for “dog mysteries” at your favorite retailer. You can find us in digital and print editions online and in stores, to include independent bookstores (look for us on IndieBound as well as the major retailers). And more than one of us have audio editions of our books (or will have this fall), so be sure to browse Audible too. Now’s the perfect time to start your shopping list for upcoming holidays and special events–because books make the best gifts, of course!
Have another author and/or mystery series you’d like to suggest?
I’m a guest today of fellow mystery writer Marja McGraw on her new website, writing about a twist on an old mantra. Here’s the lead-in:
The Golden Rule of “write what you know” is embedded in my DNA. That’s my only explanation for how I came to write “Three Little Bears Visit New York City” before I hit kindergarten. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me; after all, if people go to the woods on vacation, why wouldn’t a bear go to town?
And New York City was a place I knew something about. My maternal grandfather had been a photographer in New York, and my father talked about how different “the big city” was from upstate New York where he’d been born. I used to watch my dad doing the New York Times crossword puzzle (in ink!). So the name, the place, was embedded in my consciousness early on.
(Does Marja’s name seems familiar? It should! I’ve featured her work here on my site recently. Read the first here and more recently, here.) I hope you’ll stop by http://marjamcgraw.blogspot.com/ and read the rest. I’ll be back here in a few days with a new post.
p.s. For the curious: “taleidoscope” is not a typo! Unlike a kaleidoscope (which has brightly colored images), a taleidoscope uses mirrors and a lens to reflect the world around us.
If you enjoy cozy mysteries that are just downright fun to read, you’ll definitely want to check out this re-release of Bogey’s Ace in the Hole, the second book in the Bogey Man Mysteries. (If you missed the first one in the series, check here). Bogey’s Ace is a humorous mystery starring a Humphrey Bogart look-alike with a sleuthing family and their two Labrador Retrievers!
In Bogey’s Ace in the Hole, Marja McGraw continues the adventures of reluctant sleuths, Pamela and Chris (the Bogey Man) Cross, but this time she adds a whole new dimension to the meaning of a the phrase, “The family who….”, when their son, Mikey, a seven-year-old going on twenty; and their two yellow Labrador Retrievers, Sherlock and Watson, typical dogs, more interested in eating treats than in behaving themselves, all get involved in helping a group of adorable, but outspoken, Church ladies solve a mystery that will have you laughing at their antics one minute and gasping in surprise the next. If you love a good cozy, this is one of the best.