The Inspiration for Bogey's Ace in the Hole by Marja McGraw

My Question for Marja was the inspiration for her latest book.

What inspired Bogey’s Ace in the Hole?

The only people who might strike terror in Chris and Pamela Cross’s hearts are the Church Ladies, who want them to find a missing friend. When the friend turns up on her own, Chris finds a new kind of terror — a Murder for Hire plot the woman has overheard.

Ride along in Chris’s 1950 vintage Chevy with the Church Ladies, his wife Pamela, their son Mikey, and two overzealous yellow Labrador retrievers while they try to find not only a potential killer, but the intended victim.

I’ll bet after reading the above, you might think this is a religious story. You’d be wrong. It simply includes some pushy, lovable and memorable characters who happen to be Christians.

Does anyone remember the Snoop Sisters? For those who don’t, this was a very short-lived television series starring Helen Hayes and Mildred Natwick as an older spinster and her widowed sister who solved mysteries. If memory serves, they were mystery writers in the series. Anyway, they were always underfoot and a lot of fun.

Although I didn’t copy these ladies, they did inspire the Church Ladies in Bogey’s Ace in the Hole. Jasmine Thorpe, May Martin and Lila James are seniors who pray at the drop of a hat, and they can be very annoying, at least in Chris Cross’s opinion. However, their intentions are always good and they want nothing more than to do what’s right and to share the things that bring joy to their lives.

They’re not one-dimensional though. They’re endearing and lovable, and they want the best for everyone. Best of all, they’re funny – and they want nothing more than to “help” Chris find a potential killer. The two men who were overheard discussing this murderous plot realize that Addie, a fourth Church Lady, knows their secret. After Addie is hidden away for her safety, the Church Ladies want in on the action. After all, their friend’s life is at stake.

There are several Church Ladies in my life, and they’re fun, funny, and smart, and I’m sure at least a few of them would dearly love to solve a mystery. While the Snoop Sisters inspired the Church Ladies, the women in my life took over the characters. Jasmine, May and Lila are in their seventies, but Chris and Pamela Cross are not. So you’ve also got differences in ideas and lifestyles due to age differences.

There’s more inspiration for this story than the Church Ladies though. Chris Cross is a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart. That’s why his wife’s nickname for him is the Bogey Man. Pamela Cross’s life changed dramatically when she met and married Chris. While she attends church every Sunday with their son, Mikey, Chris stays home and reads the paper and watches football. I decided Chris needed a little more exposure to his wife’s other life. Frankly, the Church Ladies kind of terrorize her, too, but she’s used to them and gets over it quickly.

Mikey does his best to avoid the Ladies, but it’s not going to happen. They ask him embarrassing questions and intrude on his seven-year-old life in a way that will make parents of children smile. By the way, Chris calls Mikey “Ace”, because as far as he’s concerned, his stepson is aces, a 1940s term meaning quality.

And then there are Sherlock and Watson, two yellow Labrador Retrievers. By the way, Watson is a female, but how could you have a Sherlock without a Watson. These screwy dogs are always in the thick of things and even interact with the Church Ladies.

So I can tell you what and who inspired Bogey’s Ace in the Hole, but in all honesty it’s a lot of things – the Snoop Sisters, the real life Church Ladies, my enjoyment of the real Bogey, my love for children, and a passion for dogs. I wanted this series to involve a not-so-ordinary family, and this book in particular includes relationships, humor and learning to enjoy each other for what and who we are.

Give it a try. If it doesn’t at least make you smile, or maybe chuckle, let me know at . In all honestly, I think you’ll enjoy the Cross family and the Church Ladies.

Marilyn, thank you so much for inviting me to talk about the characters and who I enjoy so much and what inspired their creation.


Marja’s Mystery Blog:

Marja’s Bio:

Marja McGraw is originally from Southern California, where she worked in both criminal and civil law enforcement for several years.

Relocating to Northern Nevada, 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, a Tea Room/Antique store. After a brief stop in Wasilla, Alaska, she returned to Nevada.

Marja wrote a weekly column for a small newspaper in No. Nevada and she was the editor for the Sisters in Crime Internet Newsletter for a year and a half. She’s appeared on television in Nevada, and she’s also been a guest on various radio and Internet radio shows.

She writes the Sandi Webster Mysteries and the Bogey Man Mysteries, and says that each of her mysteries contain a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder!

At the end of this tour two names will be randomly selected from those who've left comments and they'll each receive a copy of Bogey's Ace in the Hole. Be sure to leave your email address.

She currently resides in Arizona with her husband, where life is good.

 (And a P.S. from me, this is one terrific book!)


M.M. Gornell said…
Never saw the Snoop Sisters--how could I miss that! Love the church ladies and loved getting to know you better on this tour. Have enjoyed all your posts.

I love the Church Ladies--and the book. So glad to have you visiting today.

marja said…
Madeline, I've enjoyed getting to know you, too. And thanks for the plug. :)
marja said…
Marilyn, Thank you for letting me visit today. And, thank you also for the plug.

Are we having fun yet? You betcha!
LD Masterson said…
Hey, another Bogey book! I really enjoy that series. Throw my name in the hat for the drawing (
Jake said…
Snoop Sisters is exactly the type of Church Ladies you created but with more depth & humor. This is one of my favorite Bogey books. Laughing as read because I know these sweeties in & out of Church setting. Thanks for another fun interview. Looking forward to your next book in each series. Marilyn thank you for taking on another task to expand readers libraries.
Patricia Gligor said…
I hope you KNOW that "Bogey's Ace in the Hole" is on my TBR list! I can't wait to read it.
I absolutely loved "Old Murders Never Die" so I'm looking forward to reading another book by you. I admire you for juggling two series. You and Meredith are my role models!
By the way, I have an aunt who lives in Reno. Maybe, one of these days...
marja said…
LD, Thank you so much for stopping in. Your name is in the running, and thank you for letting me know you enjoy the series.

Jake, Good to see you again. The next Bogey book? It has to do with a woman who wrote gothic novels many years ago and left behind a house full of secrets.

Patricia, I'm not sure I've ever been anyone's role model before. Thank you! By the way, I just started Mixed Messages and I'm really enjoying it.
Jackie King said…
Marja, You new book sounds wonderful!
marja said…
Thank you for stopping in, Jackie. I think you'd enjoy the book. It was a lot of fun to write.
Jean Henry Mead said…

Your books are always a fun read.
Anne K. Albert said…
What a fun read on inspiration, Marja. Great post!
marja said…
Jean, Thank you, and so are yours. I can't wait for you to finish the historical one you're working on now.

Anne, Thank you! Half the fun of coming up with the story is what inspires it.

Popular posts from this blog

it's Not a Cozy! by Mar Preston


The Power of Identity by Donna Urbikas