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Imagine you’re a young, female P.I., it’s late at night and you’re watching the motel room of an errant husband. The angry wife shows up and blows your cover, and the husband comes after you. Now imagine that Humphrey Bogart comes to your rescue.
Sandi Webster’s latest case begins with this scenario, and she continues to have “Bogey” sightings. No one will believe her until a woman is murdered at a costume party, and The Bogey Man comes strolling out of the restroom, walking the walk and talking the talk.
The phone rang. Without glancing up, I reached over and picked up the receiver.
“Webster Investigations. This is Sandi Webster. May I help you?”
“Sorry, wrong number.” The caller hung up.
Before turning back to the report I was writing, I glanced out of the office window and sucked in my breath.
It had been a week, and there he was again, walking right by my office just like he belonged on my street. Maybe he did. After all, this was Los Angeles.
He was wearing a tan trench coat and a brown Fedora with a black band, just like the other night. A cigarette hung out of the right side of his mouth.
My jaw dropped and I blinked several times. My imagination must be working overtime. No! I knew what I’d seen. Jumping out of my seat, I ran to the door and yanked it open. He was gone. I’d waited too long.
An old green 1940s-vintage Chevy was heading down the street. Was it the one I’d seen before? Did the driver have on a Fedora? I was too far away to see the license number, but what did it matter anyway?
My partner, Peter Goldberg, walked around the corner of the building from the parking lot. “What are you looking for?” He turned his head and followed my gaze.
“I, uh, saw someone walking by the office.”
“Yeah? So who was it?” Pete would never understand. I avoided looking up into his big brown eyes.
“Who?” Pete asked impatiently.
“It doesn’t matter. He’s gone now anyway.”
“Sandi, it does matter. You look like you saw a ghost.”
I sighed, my one big talent in life. “I think I did.” Turning, I walked back into the office.
Pete followed behind, placing his hand on my arm and stopping me. I turned around, still not looking up at him. I knew Pete well. I knew that at five foot three, I’d have to look up to meet his five-foot-eleven height. I knew I’d see dark brown, almost black hair with streaks of gray at the temples, and I’d see the little scar by the right side of his mouth. I knew each crease and line on his dark-complexioned face. Pete Goldberg was, after all, the man who’d recently asked me to marry him. And don’t let the name fool you. He’s Italian.
I didn’t want to tell him whom I’d seen. Why should he believe me? I didn’t believe me.
“Sandi? What is it? Who did you see?”
When I’d opened Webster Investigations, the first thing I did was hang a picture of Humphrey Bogart near my desk. I stared at the picture. Same trench coat. Same Fedora. Same face. My hero.
I pointed at the photo.
“What? You’re trying to tell me you actually saw the Boogey Man? A ghost?” Pete didn’t get it.
“No, Pete, but you’re close. I guess you’d have to say I saw the Bogey Man.” Sighing again, I sat down at my desk. This is why I hadn’t wanted to tell him. He’d make light of it and try to convince me I’d simply seen someone who resembled Humphrey Bogart.
“You saw someone who looks something like Bogart, right?”
Did I know Pete or what? “Nope. I saw him. And it wasn’t the first time.” I rubbed my blue—and now probably bloodshot—eyes, knowing this was going to be a fruitless conversation. I’d been working a lot of hours, and I guessed that Pete would chalk this up to fatigue. Turning, I once again stared at Bogey’s photo. Pete was right. It couldn’t have been Bogey.
Pete walked over to my desk, obviously waiting to see if I’d elaborate. I didn’t.
“Sandi, look at me. You know that wasn’t Humphrey Bogart. He died in the late 1950s.”
“It was 1957.” I continued to stare at the photo. Bogey held a cigarette in his right hand in the publicity shot. He stopped short of grinning, looking to the side of the camera.
“Yeah, okay.” Pete placed his hand on my shoulder. “So you saw Humphrey Bogart walking past this office. And I suppose you’re going to tell me he had on a hat and trench coat.”
I was right again—he didn’t believe me.
I finally looked up into his eyes. He was watching me intently, waiting for my reaction to his comment.
Marja McGraw, originally from California, worked in both criminal and civil law enforcement for several years. She also worked various other jobs which gave her the well-rounded life’s education that an author needs.
She eventually relocated to Northern Nevada where she worked for the Nevada Department of Transportation. Marja also did a stint in Oregon where she worked for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and owned her own business. Her next stop was Wasilla, Alaska. The draw to Northern Nevada was strong, and she eventually returned.
Starting with Secrets of Holt House, A Mystery, Marja followed up with A Well-Kept Family Secret - A Sandi Webster Mystery and the beginning of a series. Bubba’s Ghost was released in July, 2008, and Prudy’s Back! was released in January, 2009. She says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and a little murder, and that her books concentrate on the characters and solving the crime rather than the crime itself.
Marja and her husband now live in a small community in Arizona, where life is good!
Sandi Webster is a fresh new addition to the ranks of female private investigator. You won’t want to miss this book or any of the future installments. A Well-Kept Family Secret is actually a little treasure itself. --Dorothy Bodoin, Darkness at Foxglove Corners
A Well-Kept Family Secret: McGraw unleashes Sandi and Pete and a slightly wacky mother to solve a hundred year old murder. McGraw's conversational style makes it a one-sitting read. The book is filled with lively characters and scenes the reader will long remember.--L. C. Hayden, Why Casey Had To Die, An Agatha Finalist for Best Novel
Marja McGraw's Sandy Webster is a spunky detective who meets her match in Prudy, an old-time gumshoe. This book has an old fashioned glamour and a good dose of humor in the interaction between the detectives, old and young. A fun mystery with a surprising twist! --Julia Buckley, Author of The Dark Backward
Marja McGraw is truly a talent to admire. This mystery aroused emotional responses I haven’t experienced in years. I was glued to her crisp writing with a constant dose of laughter, chills, goose bumps, and intrigue. What else could you possibly need in a great mystery novel? —Larry Wonderling, Ph.D., Author of The Ultimate Evil
Marja McGraw has done it again. Get a cup of coffee, put your feet up, and prepare to be entertained by her cast of characters. As usual, Sandi Webster, private investigator seems to be around whenever Rick Mason, a local homicide detective shows up at a murder scene. On top of that, someone is "dogging" her, as some would say – someone who looks, dresses and talks like the late Humphrey Bogart. Sandi has two mysteries to solve. Who is the "Bogey Man" following her, and who committed the murder at the Halloween Party she and her friends attended with some very interesting Hollywood types – movie stars, agents, models, etc. Add to this, her relationship with her menopausal mother and you have a great read. -- Linda Roberts, Curiosity Kills
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 341
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