Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Book Review: The Fog Ladies by Susan McCormick (San Francisco Cozy Murder Mysteries #1)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: A few of the characters charm
Cons: Other characters annoy; the plot wanders
The Bottom Line:
Deaths in the building
Are they accidents?  Murder?
Plot is way too slow

The Plot Got Fogged In

As soon as I heard about The Fog Ladies, I knew I had to give it a try.  The book is set in an apartment building in an area of San Francisco where my uncle and aunt used to live (in fact, they were living there when they met).  I sat down to read it with great anticipation.  Sadly, it disappointed me.

When Sarah James moves to San Francisco to do her medical residency, she moves into a building in Pacific Heights and begins making friend with her older neighbors.  One she struggles to like is Mrs. Bridge, her neighbor who lives directly across the hall, since Mrs. Bridge is always complaining about something.  When Mrs. Bridge dies unexpectedly, Sarah thinks it is a sad accident.  However, some of the other residents begin to see a pattern with other deaths in the building.  Was Mrs. Bridge’s death an accident?  Or will Sarah find something more sinister going on?

The Fog Ladies is the loving nickname that Sarah gives a core group of friends in her new building.  The book is told from several different third person points of view, including Sarah and several of the Fog Ladies.  Since I enjoy multiple point of view stories when they are done well, I enjoyed this.

And it helped us get to know the characters better, which is essential.  We meet the various character rather quickly, and it took a bit of work to keep them all straight at first.  However, as the book progressed, I found it easier to remember who was who.

Unfortunately, the characters aren’t always as strong as they could be.  Sarah and another couple characters come across as fully developed.  Others fall into stereotypes.  I did like the character growth we saw for one of those characters late in the book, but even for her, I was cringing early on in the story.  Another never goes beyond a very painful stereotype.  Fortunately, she doesn’t have much page time, but when she was around, I was rolling my eyes.

Then there’s the plot.  It started out slow in the first third of the book, and then gets completely lost in the middle third.  Instead, we get some subplots that contribute little to the ultimate solution of the mystery.  I did find the ultimate solution interesting and the way the solution was reached believable.  But it took quite a bit of work to get there.

Unless a book specifically says otherwise, I assume it is written in a modern setting.  I have to wonder about this one.  One of the many sub-plots involved one of the older characters getting addicted to Starbucks after finding a free coupon in the paper.  Does Starbucks really do that anymore?  And who hasn’t tried Starbucks at this point?  Any time this was the focus of the story, it bothered me.  There were a few other things like that which made it appear to be set in a different time.

It’s a shame I didn’t like this book better because there are several characters I did like.  Sarah, for one, is a charming main character.  Several of the other residents, including the leader of the Fog Ladies, were also fantastic characters I would enjoy spending time around in future books.

However, overall, The Fog Ladies was a weak debut.  I won’t be back to visit the characters again.

1 comment:

  1. Oh that's so disappointing! This sounds like it could have been so good! I hate when the execution doesn't live up to the premise.