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In the 1940’s, Brian Lewis was called to war and his wife, Prudy, took over her husband’s job as a P.I. Brian never returned.
Prudy wants Sandi Webster to help her solve a 1943 murder, the case she couldn’t solve. It’s personal.
Sandi believes she knows who the killer is, but he’s dead. So who is threatening her?
I was going to tell her No. No is an easy word. No. No. No. My lips moved as I mouthed the word over and over again.
“Sandi? Are you still there? Will you do it?”
“Okay.” No. I meant to say no! How had okay slipped out of my mouth? “Maybe,” I added in a rush, running my hand through my long, dark brown hair in exasperation.
My name is Sandi Webster, and I’m a thirty-two-year-old private investigator working out of Los Angeles.
My mother, Livvie Brewster, lives in Bullhead City, Arizona, with her relatively new husband, Frank. So proximity isn’t an issue. I could have said no and hung up. Right. Like I’d hang up on my mother, and get away with it.
“I knew I could count on you, sweetie.”
“Tell me more, Mother. You have a friend who needs my help, but you say it’s not an emergency situation? And yet you want me to drive to Arizona right away?”
“Prudy Lewis is my neighbor. She worked as a private investigator back in the forties and fifties.”
“A female P.I.? That was unusual for those days.” I’d never heard of a woman doing investigations back then, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. “How old is this woman?”
“I’d guess she’s in her mid-eighties.”
“And she really was a private investigator?”
“Well, Prudy’s husband enlisted during World War II, and he was the private investigator. Prudy tried to clear up a few of his cases while he was gone, including the murder she wants you to solve. She couldn’t figure it out, and the killer was never caught.”
My mother made the idea of me solving the old case sound easy, in typical Livvie style. “Did Prudy’s husband pick it back up when he returned?” I asked.
Mother was quiet for a moment. “He never returned. He was listed as Missing in Action after a year in the Pacific Theatre. And Prudy didn’t remarry. She was nuts about Brian. That was her husband, Brian Lewis. She raised her son, Brian, Jr., by herself and ended up accepting new cases to help out financially.”
“So why does she want the case solved after all these years?” It didn’t make much sense to me.
“Brian and Prudy knew the people who were involved, and they had a personal stake in things. It’s always troubled her that she couldn’t find the killer. It might sound a little strange, but in a way I think she wants to solve the case for her husband, to finalize something he’d started. I told her about how you worked on that hundred-year-old murder for me.”
I sighed, trying not to think about that case. “If she’s in her mid-eighties, I have to ask. Are any of the people who were involved still alive? That was a long time ago.”
“I believe that at least some of them are. Prudy was in her late twenties at the time. Most of the people involved ranged in age from teenagers to early twenties. They all lived in the same neighborhood. And the murder took place in Southern California, so you really should have everything you need right at your fingertips.”
“How does she know that someone in the neighborhood committed the crime?”
“You’ll have to ask Prudy about that.” My mother sounded smug, and I didn’t like that.
She was playing a game, trying to entice me by not giving me all of the information. It was an old ploy of hers and it wasn’t working this time. “Mom, that was well over fifty years ago. People move, people die, and people change. I don’t have anything at my fingertips. What are you thinking?”
“Well, Sandra, why don’t you and Pete drive over here and meet Prudy? Talk to her before you make up your mind.” There was the dreaded use of my given name. She only called me Sandra when she was irked with me.
I sighed and rubbed the back of my neck, wishing my sudden headache would go away. “Can you tell me anything, anything at all, about the crime? At least give me something to go on. Please?”
She sighed back at me, managing to make hers deeper than mine. “I’ll tell you what little I know, but you really need to talk to Prudy.”
“First things first, Mom. Exactly when did
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: 334
Paper Weight (lb): 13.8
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