Tuesday, October 23, 2012

OLD MURDERS NEVER DIE by Marja McGraw is a good reading choice for October’s longer nights in the run-up to Halloween. A couple of Los Angeles PIs come to Arizona on vacation, get lost in mountainous terrain, stumble upon an abandoned Old West town and end up being stalked by a mysterious cowboy on a black horse. Is he real or is he a ghost?
Marja writes two series, one involving a young, female private investigator named Sandi Webster, and one featuring a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart named Chris Cross. The books are light with a touch of humor.

Born and raised in Southern California, Marja worked in both criminal and civil law enforcement and calls on her experience when writing.  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. She now lives in Arizona.

Here’s a list of her books:

Sandi Webster Mysteries
#1 - A Well-Kept Family Secret
#2 - Bubba's Ghost
#3 - Prudy's Back!
#4 - The Bogey Man
#5 - Old Murders Never Die

The Bogey Man Mysteries
#1 - Bogey Nights
#2 - Bogey's Ace in the Hole

Here’s my review.

Wings EPress, Paperback 2011
Wings EPress E-books, Kindle and Nook 2011
Book #5 in Sandi Webster Mysteries
Told from the first person viewpoint of PI Sandi Webster, this is a traditional mystery, with suspense building slowly, page by page. I spent an evening engrossed in the tale of a small town whose inhabitants were so terrified by a series of murders that they simply loaded their families into buckboards and fled the area.

Sandi Webster and Pete Goldberg, her partner/fiancé, plan a peaceful week camping on San Francisco Mountain in Coconino County. Looking for a place to spend the night, they park the Jeep, hike up over a rise and stumble upon a ghost town. Almost hidden by weeds and brush sits an abandoned house that looks like "the owner had simply walked away, leaving everything in place."

When Sandi and Pete head back to the Jeep to get a few things for the night, the Jeep’s doors are standing open, personal possessions are strewn on the ground, and there's a horse hoof print in the dirt. Spooked, they prepare to go back down the mountain but the Jeep won't start because the ignition relay is missing.

With Pete’s gun and Sandi’s dog -- half-wolf, half-golden retriever -- for protection, they decide the old house might be a safe place to bunk temporarily. Fortunately they had packed food, picnic supplies, bottled water and sleeping bags. After bringing those necessities into the house, they begin to clear out and clean up some living space.

They prowl, poke, scrub and polish to the point of exhaustion, getting a first-hand experience with living conditions of a hundred years earlier. In an enclosed space beneath a wardrobe they find log books kept by Sheriff Joseph Croft of Wolf Creek. The logs are dated 1879-1880.

When Sandi finds a woman’s wedding band in a dresser drawer she begins to feel like a trespasser. The house and the silent town have finally drawn her into something akin to “an episode of the Twilight Zone.” Determined to find out what happened, she and Pete begin to explore the town one house at a time, with the rider on the black horse tracking their every move.

The inevitable confrontation reveals the mysterious cowboy’s agenda. By the end of the book I felt as if I had explored the town alongside Sandi and Pete, and I understood the grief and fear that gripped the citizens of Wolf Creek. Wrapping up all the loose ends, the author reveals what happened at the time of the murders and long afterward.


Marja McGraw’s web site tag line is “A little humor, a little romance, a little murder!” The site includes her blog and book trailers. Be sure to check out her Vintage Movies page.

I don’t have the foggiest idea what this is all about, but I keep seeing it on other blogs, so here it is.

FTC has a new regulation which went into effect in December, 2009 which says, basically, "Amateur Bloggers to Disclose Freebies or Be Fined." Here's my required FTC Disclosure Notice regarding review copies of books obtained for this blog. No other compensation is accepted beyond review copies of books. When I do write a review, or opinion, the source of the book cited will be disclosed in the post in which the review/opinion appears. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

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