Excerpt reveal: ‘The Fog Ladies,’ by Susan McCormick

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The Fog Ladies is a cozy murder mystery set in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco where old ladies start to die. Mrs. Bridge falls off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. Mrs. Talwin slips on bubbles in the bath and drowns. The Pacific Heights building is turning over tenants faster than the fog rolls in a cool San Francisco evening.

Young, overworked, overtired, overstressed medical intern Sarah James has no time for sleuthing. Her elderly neighbors, the Fog Ladies, have nothing but time. Sarah assumes the deaths are the natural consequence of growing old. The Fog Ladies assume murder.

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?

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About the Author

Susan McCormick writes cozy murder mysteries. She is also the author of Granny Can’t Remember Me, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease. She is a doctor who lives in Seattle. 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 served nine years in the military before settling in the Pacific Northwest. She is married and has two boys, plus a giant Newfoundland dog.

Website:

https://susanmccormickbooks.com

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The Fog Ladies

Prologue

Mrs. Bridge did not like bugs. Perched high up on the stool, she peered distastefully into the kitchen light. Living in an apartment building in San Francisco, she usually had no problem with bugs. But the light collected the creatures, motionless black blobs above her head.

If Tommy were anything like old Mr. Lemon, the handyman he replaced, there would be no bugs. Mr. Lemon had come by every few weeks to see if she needed something fixed. He did it with all the tenants, right from the time she moved in forty years ago when she was twenty-five. Old Mr. Lemon wasn’t above cleaning out bugs. Old Mr. Lemon wasn’t above anything. Not like Tommy.

When she’d first suggested to Tommy that he should clean out the bugs, he actually laughed. What impudence! The few times he had come, he’d shown up a week later, long after she’d done the task herself. What did she pay her rent for?

The whole building had gone downhill since Mr. Lemon died. It was a beautiful building in Pacific Heights, built in 1925, elegant and solid, with a slate floor in the lobby and etched glass windows. Mr. Lemon had washed those windows every week, just like he polished the brass and oiled the mahogany hall table. Tommy thought his job entailed keeping the elevator running and changing the light bulbs in the back staircase. He didn’t understand about a fine building. And he certainly showed no interest in helping with her bugs.

So Mrs. Bridge climbed up there herself. It wasn’t easy. The ceilings were high. She used a stool she found in the garage by the dumpster. It was meant to be a barstool, but its height was perfect for reaching the light fixture. She wore yellow rubber gloves and used wads of paper towels. Even though they were expensive. The whole process left her winded and she only did it every few months.

Stepping from her kitchen chair onto the barstool was the trickiest part. She had done it many times before and could balance pretty well once she touched the ceiling.

She always felt nervous at this point, hand over head, feet tight together on the small stool. Today, though, she felt an inexplicable dread.

If anything happened, she would blame Tommy. She found it ridiculous and humiliating that a sixty-five-year-old woman should have to clean bugs out of a light.

She had seen Tommy that very day up on a sturdy new ladder probably purchased with her rent proceeds. Why couldn’t he do this for her? Or at least offer her the ladder. No respect for his elders, that’s why.

“Insolent youth.” Mrs. Bridge said. “Damn that Tommy.”

The stool jerked from under her. Mrs. Bridge felt herself fall. It seemed like slow motion, like she was falling from the roof deck and not from a stool in the kitchen. Falling, falling, long enough for her to see the figure standing nearby. Long enough for her to see his detached expression.

She landed hard. She heard the crack. She knew she was going to die. She studied the bugs in the light far over her head. The figure started to turn away.

She managed to speak and was surprised at how strong her voice sounded. “Sarah,” she blurted. He whirled around.

Mrs. Bridge was satisfied to see the shock on his face as she stared up and said, “Sarah saw you.”

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