Former Pa. Realtor® Pens Mystery Books Based on Real Estate Career

By Kim Shindle | Dec. 26, 2023 | 4 min. read

Every Realtor® has plenty of unusual stories to tell from their real estate career. After years in the real estate industry, Judy L. Murray took her collection of unique stories and fictionalized them for her new career as a mystery author.

A former vice president and real estate broker for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach in the Philadelphia region and a former PAR member, Murray is an avid mystery fan and always wanted to write books similar to her favorites – Nancy Drew, Jessica Fletcher, Nora Charles and Miss Marple from Agatha Christie’s novels. Her undergraduate degree in journalism from Syracuse University and former work as a reporter have also led her to become an author.

Judy L. Murray

Her first book, “Murder in the Master: A Chesapeake Bay Mystery,” features heroine Helen Morrisey, an experienced Realtor®, who finds a dead man in the main bedroom of a house she’s showing to clients on the very first page of the book. Murray calls her sleuth a “sharp-tongued, gutsy and mature woman long on loyalty and short on romance.” The book moves at a fast pace and ends with Helen discovering the killer.

“Real estate has been a valuable experience and was a huge asset to me, not just as a story line,” says Judy L. Murray, author and former PAR member.

Murray started out working as a reporter but decided to change careers, moving to a real estate office. Within a year, she earned her real estate license in New Jersey. After managing a few different offices, she moved to the Philadelphia area in 1984, where she returned to selling homes when interest rates were double digits. She later transitioned to the then Fox & Roach Realtors®, where she worked in senior management for 25 years.

“I’ve always had my hand in writing and worked with the marketing department,” Murray says. She was also a real estate columnist for Philadelphia Magazine for four years.

Writing murder mysteries was always a goal. “I’m a sucker for a happy ending. I want the good guys to win and the bad guys to get caught,” she chuckles.

She decided to write what she knows, with her main character as a Realtor®. “She shows the world that Realtors® are smart and hard working,” Murray says. “So many stories out there don’t portray real estate agents as either. I believe this is so wrong. I know so many Realtors® who care about their clients and provide a real service to them, helping to buy or sell their homes.”

Murray has written three books in the series, including “Killer in the Kitchen” and “Peril in the Pool House.” They’re all based in the fictional Chesapeake Bay community of Port Anne, loosely based on the community she lives in. “The pleasure in writing a series is that you get to know the core group of characters,” she says. “And throughout the series, Helen starts to develop a love interest with Joe McAllister, the detective in the story.”

Murray has included her twins in her series. Her son, who’s in law enforcement, offers some critique of how things play out in the books. “He keeps me on the straight and narrow as to who would do what in an investigation,” she adds.

Her books have been recognized with several awards: the Silver Falchion Award, first place in the Pencraft Awards for Literary Excellence, a Gold and a Silver award from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and an Agatha Award Nominee.

“The awards have been a wonderful validation of my work,” she says. “It’s pretty exciting that you can see you’re on the right course.”

“My advice to other people is start following your dreams earlier,” she says. “I waited to start my first book and it’s a long process to write 80,000 words. I wish I would have started sooner.”

“Real estate has been a valuable experience and was a huge asset to me, not just as a story line,” Murray adds. “As a Realtor®, you learn skills that are helpful, like handling feedback, public speaking and getting comfortable making a presentation. You may give a presentation and face rejection because the seller chooses someone else to represent them. Being a Realtor® made me tougher for this business and has helped prepare me to market my books.”

You can follow Murray and order her mysteries on her website

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