Title: The Fog Ladies
Author: Susan McCormick
Genre: Cozy Murder 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?
Enid Carmichael felt fine. Heartburn. Who knew caffeine could do this? Maybe five was too many, but one or two a day could not hurt.
She’d promised Sarah no caffeine or alcohol, but there was her sherry bottle sitting there, and it would go well with a little dinner. She was hungry now. Sarah had also warned her off fatty foods, but she had some frozen meatballs she could put in the microwave. Certainly those were allowed. Maybe she should have brought the bottle of antacid just in case.
She smashed up a meatball and put it in a dirty dish from the sink. She put it down for Snowball, who started in hungrily. She washed off another plate and served meatballs for herself and added tomato sauce from a jar in the refrigerator that wasn’t too old. As she sat down to read the journal, she saw the basket of damp clothes from that morning sitting on the floor near the couch. She turned her chair until the basket was out of view. She poured a very small glass of sherry and took a sip. She opened Mr. Glenn’s journal, sighing contentedly.
Bessie, I miss you so much. How could one mistake change our life so drastically and so quickly? Those women. They were to blame. Each and every one played their role. I can hardly lift my head from shame. Even Mrs. Talwin knows and she isn’t even in their little group, she just lives next door. But I can tell from her disapproving looks that she knows.
I wanted to move out, get away from the memories, the accusing looks. But we lived here a long time, you and I. And I would never find an apartment like this. Not to mention at this price, with rent control. Remember when we moved in, how expensive we thought the building was?
Remember how happy we were to find a place so close to the park for Lionel?
Remember how we painted his walls yellow to make his room all bright and sunny? And now Lionel’s room is your music room. I haven’t changed a thing. You’ve been gone more than a year, but you could move right back in tomorrow, it all looks the same. I could never leave our apartment. And, frankly, I don’t have the energy.
Mrs. Carmichael poured another glass of sherry. She took a gulp and turned the page.
Bessie, Mrs. Talwin is dead. It’s strange, but when I looked down at her dead body, all I felt was relief. I can walk out our door now without fear of running into her, seeing the disgust in her eyes, the loathing.
She was eighty, Bessie. I thought you would live until eighty. Your doctor thought so, too. He thought we had the cancer beat.
Those meddling women beat us instead.
What? What was this? Mrs. Carmichael shook her head to clear it. Mr. Glenn found Mrs. Talwin after she slipped in the tub. But this was the first Mrs. Carmichael knew he didn’t like the woman. It was one thing to find your neighbor dead and quite another to find your nemesis. Mrs. Carmichael turned the page.
She’s dead, Bessie. Muriel Bridge is dead.
That’s all that was written on that page. She turned another.
Mrs. Gordon has a baby with her now. She watches it for the mom sometimes. You know how I love babies. When I see the two of them, I can’t help but remember how wonderful our lives were, yours and mine. I miss you, Bessie.
Babies? The man loved babies? Mrs. Carmichael speared the last meatball and turned the page.
How many people have I wished ill, Bessie? All the women who played a role in your death. All the women who knew what I had done. Who knew what Muriel Bridge had said.
Frances Noonan is gone now, Bessie. They’re all gone. My guilty burden is lifting.
Mrs. Carmichael did not like where this was going. This man sounded frankly unhinged. Like he could be the murderer Mrs. Honeycut was going on about.
Mrs. Carmichael gasped. The murderer! She turned the page again, not caring that it ripped.
There was an earthquake this week. Nothing like in 1989, remember that? We were at the World Series. You went with me because you could see how excited I was that season. I’m so glad we were together. It took us so long to get home. Can you imagine if I had to wait hours to know if you were all right? We had just driven across the Bay Bridge the day before, remember? And then it fell. This earthquake was nothing like that.
I heard Alma Gordon playing the piano yesterday. The new tenants have one and you could hear her in the hallway. She sounded pretty good. Why didn’t we ever know she played piano?
She has that baby with her now. How can I hate her when she totes around that adorable baby? Every time I see them, I feel two years of hatred melting away. All I’m left is hatred for myself.
Bessie, what have I done?
What had he done? What had he done? The next page was blank and so was the one after. That was the last page. Was Mr. Glenn a killer? Was Mrs. Honeycut right? Had Mrs. Talwin and Mrs. Bridge been murdered? Had he tried to kill Mrs. Noonan, too?
She jumped up to call Mrs. Honeycut right now, then sat back down. Her large print clock said 12:05 a.m. She couldn’t call her tonight. First thing tomorrow, then, first thing tomorrow.
Oh, hoo, hoo. Mrs. Carmichael couldn’t wait to show the journal to the Fog Ladies. She poured herself another sherry and decided to read the whole journal again to look for clues.
What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
Winter mornings are perfect for cuddling in bed with a good cozy murder mystery.
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
THE FOG LADIES is a cozy murder mystery full of friendship and warmth, enough to offset the chilly San Francisco fog.
Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Runs March 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on April 1.
Susan McCormick is an author and doctor in Seattle. She also wrote Granny Can’t Remember Me, a children’s picture book about Alzheimer’s disease. She graduated from Smith College and George Washington University School of Medicine, with additional medical training in Washington, DC and San Francisco, where she lived in an elegant apartment building much like the one in the book. She is married and has two boys, plus a giant Newfoundland dog, Albert.
Social Media Links: