Sunday, March 19, 2017

Having a Great Crime -- Wish You Were Here

by Marja McGraw

You never know what might inspire a story. In the case of Having a Great Crime – Wish You Were Here, it was a small, friendly town – Battle Ground, Washington. I’ve lived here for almost two years and enjoyed every minute of it. The town is beautiful and the people are friendly. However, the town wasn’t crime ridden, until I came along and created an old crime.

“1936 – In the small farming community of Battle Ground, Washington, a scream is heard and actress Bonnie Singleton is found dead. With no evidence or suspects, the crime goes down in history as an unsolved murder. The only one who knows the truth is Bonnie Singleton, and her voice has been silenced.

That is, until many years later when Sandi Webster-Goldberg and her husband, Pete, go on a belated honeymoon to a new Bed and Breakfast in the small community.

Plenty of surprises await the couple when the proprietor of the B&B asks for their help. She doesn’t want her business to be known as the local haunted house.

Have Sandi and Pete ever been able to turn down a challenge? The request to find the truth has been made and once again they’re reluctantly on a cold case.”

I guess I should have mentioned the treasure. What’s a good story set out in the country without a treasure? And maybe a ghost? After a vintage body is found, you have to wonder whose ghost (if there is one) haunts the B&B. Is Bonnie Singleton still walking the halls of the house or is it the woman who was buried on another part of the property?

Needless to say, I write fiction. However, I’ve learned that when you create your location, if it’s not a fictional town, you’d better stick to the facts as much as you can. Research can be fascinating, and sometimes (as in this case) it can be difficult. Have you ever tried researching through old newspapers only to discover that in “those days” the local paper was almost purely social? Not helpful. Because this is a small town, you won’t find many reference books on its history, either.

One thing I discovered is that it’s almost like this area jumped from the 1920s straight into the 1940s, practically skipping the 1930s. It became a prime era for me to fictionalize. It was a farming community with little in the way of law enforcement.

This area is gorgeous, and lots of rain helps keep it that way. I mean lots of rain. Moss is an ongoing battle, but if you’re just passing through, it enhances the scenery. There are forests to walk through, and fields galore.

The way the town looks isn’t everything though. The people, the businesses and even the frogs add to the story. At certain times of the year you can open the door and hear what sounds like thousands of frogs chirping, or is it croaking? You might even find a snake wriggling through your yard, but it probably won’t be a poisonous critter.

Can an old murder have ramifications in today’s world? Why not? It can happen.

So if you’re looking for a story with a little humor, a little romance and maybe a murder or two, this is the one for you.

Jean, thank you so much for inviting me to your site. I hope one day you’ll visit mine.


Marja McGraw has worked in both civil and criminal law, state transportation, and for a city building department.  She’s lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska, Arizona, and Washington.

She wrote a weekly column for a small town newspaper in Northern Nevada, and conducted a Writers’ Support Group in Northern Arizona. A past member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), she was the Editor for the SinC-Internet Newsletter for a year and a half.

Marja writes two mystery series: The Sandi Webster Mysteries and The Bogey Man Mysteries, which are light reading with a touch of humor. She also occasionally writes stories that aren’t part of a series.

Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder!

She now lives in Washington, where life is good.

You can visit her website at
Her blog can be read at


Jean Henry Mead said...

Welcome back to Mysterious Writers, Marja. I read the book and enjoyed the read as I'm sure many others have. I'm looking forward to your soon to released Bogey Man book, Black Butterfly.

Marja said...

Thank you, Jean! And thanks for having me back. I think you'll enjoy the new book, too.

Maggie King said...

Enjoyed your post, Marja!

Evelyn Cullet said...

Great post, Marja. I loved the book. Couldn't put it down. Looking forward to reading Black Butterfly.

Patricia Gligor said...

I loved the book but then I've loved ALL of your Sandi Webster mysteries. :)

jrlindermuth said...

I've always liked mysteries where fresh light is shone on an old crime. Must be the historian in me. Need to add this one to the TBR list. Marja tells a good story. I especially like her Bogie series.

Palmaltas said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am looking forward to Black Butterfly. I'm so glad there is another Bogie book.

Marja said...

I'm having one of those days. I can't see where to reply to each comment, individually, so thank you each for your comment. I'm glad a few have already read the book and I hope those who do so in the future will enjoy it.

Express Translate said...

i am definitely going to purchase this Malone mystery series and try to read whole.

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