Marja McGraw – What Are The Odds?
This week my guest is mystery author, Marja McGraw.
Marja McGraw was born and raised in Southern California. She worked in both civil and criminal law for fifteen years, state transportation for another seventeen years, and most recently for a city building department. She has lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona.
Marja 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 also the Editor for the SinC-Internet Newsletter for a year and a half.
She has appeared on KOLO-TV in Reno, Nevada, and KLBC in Laughlin, Nevada, and various radio talk shows.
Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder! Books include both the Sandi Webster Mysteries and The Bogey Man Mysteries.
She and her husband now live in Arizona, where life is good.
What Are The Odds?
What are the odds of buying a house with a history to turn into a bed and breakfast, and discovering it’s the house that just keeps giving – and giving, and giving?
Sandi Webster and her partner, Peter Goldberg, forego a honeymoon to help her parents renovate just such a house only to discover there’s more to the home’s history than meets the eye. Stanley Hawks and his new wife, Felicity, are along for the ride and he has to face some of his worst fears.
This is an adventure these friends will long remember.
Here is an excerpt:
My mother and Felicity helped me put out food and a small wedding cake. Pete had already passed out drinks, and a bottle or two of champagne chilled in the refrigerator.
I finally sat down and took a deep breath.
Jessica sat next to me. “So tell me about this bed and breakfast your mother and her husband are opening. Rick said there were murders in the house? Does she think people will stay there regardless of the place’s history?”
Before I could open my mouth, my mother the drama queen, who sat on my other side spoke loudly. “Let me tell the story. It’s a tale of murder and jealousy. Or so I’ve been told. Frank and I sold our house in Bullhead City. That’s in Arizona, you know. Escrow closes in about thirty days, and I think we’ll move to the llama ranch now instead of waiting.”
The room fell into silence and all eyes were fixed on Livvie Brewster, my loves-a-good-story mother.
“This happened, oh, probably twenty years or so ago. It’s a thirty-acre ranch and it used to be a llama ranch. An elderly man and his daughter ran the place, along with one ranch hand. It’s said – ”
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you, Mom? ‘It’s said’?”
“Hush and let me tell the story. Actually, this would be better told over a campfire on a dark night.”
She laughed at her own little joke.
“A neighbor gave me the scoop, so this should be pretty accurate, although he didn’t give me any of their names. He said the ranch hand had a thing for the daughter. So did a man from a neighboring property. The men were constantly trying to outdo one another. The daughter wasn’t a young woman and she’d never been married, so she was thrilled by all the attention.
“Her father told her to be careful because it was all going to backfire on her. He said she needed to make a choice between the men and put an end to their competition. But she wouldn’t listen.”
My mother actually leaned forward as though it was Halloween night and she was stirring a pot of scary information.
“Well, the father was right. It backfired. She finally chose the neighbor, and the ranch hand went nuts. One stormy afternoon he stealthily entered the house and found the daughter in the living room, kissing the neighbor. The ranch hand had a gun in his hand and he shot the daughter where she stood, in the head. The neighbor ran out the front door. The ranch hand ran after him and killed him, too, before returning to the house. You can still see a bullet hole in the screen door.
“The father, hearing the shots, came running in with a shotgun. Before he could shoot, the ranch hand shot him. He didn’t die, and he raised the gun and killed the ranch hand.”
“What neighbor told you about this?” With four deaths, I couldn’t help but wonder if the neighbor had all the details straight. Time and memory often change things from fact to exciting fiction.
“An old man who lives down the street in a mobile home. I’m sure he’s reliable.”
One of the models sat in a chair across from us and leaned forward, studying my mother’s face. “What happened to the father?”
I could see my mother mentally rubbing her hands together. She had everyone’s interest. “He died before the police got there.” She sat back and looked very pleased with herself. “And that’s the short version of the story.”
Felicity smiled at my mother. “And a neighbor says the house is haunted by these people?”
“Only the ranch hand. Well, he told me someone said they saw the daughter once, too.”
“Interesting story,” Rick said. “Are you sure people will want to stay in a house where murders were committed?”
Frank decided it was his turn to speak. “Their curiosity will get the best of them, and they’ll want to see the house. Some of them will hope to see the ghost while they’re there. And others simply won’t care. We’re turning it into kind of a dude ranch with horses. There are plenty of places to ride and we’re at the base of a small mountain. It’s unusual because it’s flat desert surrounded by mountains, and then there’s this small mountain right in the middle of the valley. We’re going to have chickens, too.”
Marja and I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and be entered to win a free copy of, What Are The Odds?
Congratulations to Anna Celeste Burke for winning a copy of What Are The Odds.
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