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Posts Tagged ‘gift shop owner’


Theophania Bogart has fled England, where her aristocratic father hanged himself in his cell while awaiting trial for murder.  She’s taken a new last name, moved to San Francisco, found an apartment, and opened a gift shop featuring luxury items for bed and bath.  She’s content in her new home, fervently trying to guard her privacy.  Then a death that occurs literally before her eyes changes everything.

Tim Callahan, Theo remarks in the opening sentence of The Man on the Washing Machine, was a petty thief, a cheat, and a bully.  He was also the neighborhood handyman, so going in and out of the various apartments gave him lots of opportunity for pilfering.  In fact, he stole a pair of earrings that belonged to Theo’s late mother, and even though she had gotten them back she never allowed him in her apartment again.

The San Francisco police department immediately suspects that someone pushed Callahan out of the third story window directly opposite Theo’s apartment, and Inspector Lichlyter starts to interrogate everyone in the immediate vicinity.  Since Theo is the only one who saw Callahan fall, she becomes the main object of the police inquiry, making her wonder just how much longer her background and her secret will be safe.

Distracted by the divisiveness of her neighborhood association’s meeting following Callahan’s death, Theo’s antenna for self-preservation slips a little, and when she returns from walking her dog Lucy she’s not paying as much attention as usual to her surroundings.  As she climbs up the back stairs to her apartment and opens the door to the utility room, her thoughts are wandering.  In the room’s bright overhead light she sees, to her complete astonishment, a man in a business suit standing on top of her washing machine.

Theo Bogart is a feisty heroine with a fascinating background.  Daughter of a wealthy English family, she was a well-known paparazza and had photographed celebrities around the world.  But she changed her life when she arrived in the United States, giving away her Christian Louboutin heels and Chanel handbags to charity and clothing herself in long-sleeved T-shirts and jeans.  She’s determined to stick to these changes and to her new name, but a second murder makes that even more difficult.

The Man on the Washing Machine won the 2015 Minatour Books/Mystery Writers of America prize for First Crime Novel.  It’s easy to see why.  Heroine Theo is delightful, smart, and determined to succeed in her new life.  And the mix of neighbors–her Japanese-American gardener, her gay best friend who is having romantic problems with his partner, her own business partner who seems to be more and more removed from the business–all add to the quirkiness around her.  And when a new neighbor enters the picture, with the possibility of a romance that Theo would like to avoid, things get really interesting.  All the characters and the author’s familiarity with the San Francisco scene make this debut novel stand out.

You can read more about Susan Cox at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.