Review: This was a fun, smart murder mystery. Set in the city of San Francisco, Theophania “Theo” Bogart is running from her past in England, and has opened a bath and body shop, Aromas, with her friend, Nicole. One morning a nasty piece of work is thrown from a nearby balcony, and the mystery begins. The majority of the story takes place in Fabian Gardens, a fictional location where most of the characters live. The setting was fun. I live about an hour north of San Francisco, and this story felt authentic to San Francisco and the area. A love of the city and the characters came through in the book, and you could just tell that the author loves San Francisco and loves to write.
Theo is escaping from her past in England, and the whole story there is never revealed, but I couldn’t believe at first when she arrives in San Francisco and immediately is able to purchase a store and several apartments and she is just 26ish. San Francisco is just so expensive that I was hung up on that detail for a while until things were explained later. The author never states how much money Theo supposedly has (and the story of the money does come out), but I was really stuck there thinking how on earth does this young woman afford all of this? And the place needed massive repairs, so she also had to pay to refurbish everything. The author is working on a sequel to this, and I hope Theo’s backstory is explored more, as it really peaked my interest.
There are many interesting side characters in this book. There are Nat and Derek who run a jewelry showroom, a bitter surgeon named Kurt, and the owner of a local bakery named Helga, to name a few. My favorite was Haruto Miazaki who happens to work in the shop with Theo and also does garden design and computer security on the side. Another favorite was young Davie who has some troubles in his life but still has a positive outlook.
I heard about this book because my local bookstore was doing an author event. So, I was able to meet the author, and listen to her talk about the book and writing in general. Plus I was able to get my book autographed. Susan Cox was absolutely delightful to listen to. She was sweet and charming, and had an obvious love of writing, reading, her book and its’ characters, and murder mysteries. She was really refreshing. Plus, she also brought along soaps in the shape of guns to the event!! (There is a humorous scene in the book with a gun shaped soap). It was a really fun event with lots of good discussion about writing.
I gave this book three stars on Goodreads, which is not quite accurate. This is why I don’t always like Goodreads, as I wish I could give it 3.75 stars, because as far as murder mysteries go, it was smart and fun, and Theo didn’t annoy me. I was actually completely surprised when the murderer was revealed, but it makes sense. I’m looking forward to the second book, I’m not exactly sure when it is coming out, but I will keep an eye out for it as this was a thoroughly enjoyable murder mystery.
Bottom Line: A smart and fun murder mystery set in San Francisco.
Next post: Mini reviews of Before I Fall, A Man Called Ove, and Illuminae.