Title: The Fog Ladies
Author: Susan McCormick
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Young, overworked, overtired, overstressed medical intern Sarah James has no time for sleuthing. Her elderly neighbors, the Fog Ladies, have nothing but time. When, one by one, old ladies die in their elegant apartment building in San Francisco, Sarah assumes the deaths are the natural consequence of growing old. The Fog Ladies assume murder.
Mrs. Bridge falls off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. Mrs. Talwin slips on bubbles in the bath and drowns. Suddenly, the Pacific Heights building is turning over tenants faster than the fog rolls in on a cool San Francisco evening.
Sarah resists the Fog Ladies’ perseverations. But when one of them falls down the stairs and tells Sarah she was pushed, even Sarah believes evil lurks in their building. Can they find the killer before they fall victim themselves?
“We didn’t see you today at the funeral,” Enid Carmichael said. You’d think it was an accusation rather than a simple statement of fact, the way Mr. Glenn jerked around. He must not have heard her come up behind him in the lobby, what with its thick carpet. Her high heels made such a racket on the slate floor, she preferred to walk on the oriental rug.
He dropped his mail and busied himself picking it up. Mrs. Carmichael waited. She had all the time in the world. Even if he didn’t like the woman, he should have had the common decency to show up at her funeral.
He didn’t speak, just looked up with sad eyes. He’d had those sad eyes for years now. Was he ever going to get over it?
She persisted. “With her and Bessie being such good friends, I would have thought for sure you would go to pay your respects. But that’s a long time ago, I suppose.” She looked at him and arched her eyebrows, which she’d carefully painted on that morning. “How long has Bessie been dead? I lose track of time.”
He ducked his head and she thought she heard him gasp.
“Two years,” he murmured at last. “She’s been gone two years.”
“And I’m still here.” Mrs. Carmichael could not help but gloat. Those two women, Bessie Glenn and Muriel Bridge, had seemed so young once. They were much younger than Mrs. Carmichael, younger by ten years than Frances Noonan and Alma Gordon. That’s why they’d been such good friends. They used to flaunt it, going to concerts together to see those ’60s bands that still toured decades after their prime. Not that Enid Carmichael would have wanted to join them. But they could have asked.
When they were young, ten years seemed like another generation. But now it was a blink of one of Mr. Glenn’s milky-white eyes.
And who was dead and who was standing in the lobby with this slouching man?
“Yes sirree. I’m still here,” she said.
“For now,” Mr. Glenn said.
“Forever.” Mrs. Carmichael was indignant. Who did he think he was?
He had been this way before. At least he was speaking to her. There had been that nasty period after Bessie died. Mr. Glenn blamed her as if she had stopped Bessie’s heart with her very own hands! As if it had been her fault at all!
She started toward the elevator, then glanced back. Mr. Glenn was stooped and bald and wore thick glasses. How in Heaven’s name did that mess with Muriel Bridge happen, with a man like him? Muriel Bridge had been pretty, and she always wore lipstick, even to go down to the mailbox. Like Mrs. Carmichael herself. You just didn’t feel right without your face on. But Mr. Glenn? He was wearing his undershirt, hadn’t even bothered to put on a real shirt. He looked pitiful. She could see his reflection in the shiny brass mailboxes. He was not looking at his mail and he was not looking at her. He was just standing there.
She turned back to the elevator and hit the button. The elevator arrived with a ding. But Mrs. Carmichael’s hearing was sharp. Much sharper than people gave her credit for. There were benefits to being old. She overheard lots of things people didn’t intend. Along with the ding, she heard Mr. Glenn, muttering now to himself. They all did this to some extent. You lived alone, you talked to yourself. She turned her head to hear him clearly.
“Funeral? I wouldn’t go to her funeral if someone gave me Giants tickets on Old Timers’ Day. Muriel Bridge was a two-faced old bat who tormented my Bessie and cracking her head is too good for her.”
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Susan McCormick is a writer and doctor who lives in Seattle. She graduated from Smith College and George Washington University School of Medicine, with additional medical training in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Susan served as a doctor in the U.S. Army for nine years before moving to the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the Fog Ladies series (second book to be released in October 2020), she also wrote Granny Can’t Remember Me, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. She lives in Seattle with her husband, two sons, and giant Newfoundland dog, Albert.
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