I confess its the title that got me hooked to picking up this book. Furthermore it promised to be a mystery – always a favorite with me.
Title: The Man on the Washing Machine ( Theo Bogart Series #1)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Crime & Mystery
Publisher: Flatiron Publishing
My Rating: ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ (4/5 Stars )
Author: Susan Cox
Theophina Bogart (first name real, last name borrowed) is trying to live a life of obscurity and ordinary in a sunny slightly upmarket community in San Francisco where she has fled to from England. Her escape is from her murky, headline-spinning, notoriously gruesome family history.
Theo had stumbled onto an ugly building which she briefly considers buying. Then put off by its decrepit state decides not to. But the whimsically done up charming garden at the end of the lane, changes her mind. Which is how she finds herself a reluctant owner and a landlord of a building desperately in need of repairs.
The charming community feels more like a small town and hosts several eclectic characters, all of whom are friends with each another. There is Nicole an artistic whirlwind, Helga owns the local bakery and coffee shop, Haruto- a pint sized samurai who moonlights as a hacker and designs Japanese gardens. He also becomes Theo tenant when he rents out her first floor and helps out part time at her shop too.
Nat and Derek are lovers and run a jewelry business together. Sabina looks like a leather goddess who rides her poison green bike like a hello angel and works out as a message/courier girl. Kurt is a surgeon with a block of ice in place of his heart. He is also Theo’s ex lover, Helga’s massive ‘secret’ crush and dating Sabina currently. Ex Italian Professor and his wife Ruth live on one of the ground floors and are headed towards their 50th anniversary in a few days.
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Apart from the frequent tremors and aftershocks, life has been fairly placid at Fabian village for Theo. She did suffer an incident of attempted robbery when she had just moved in, but was saved by Nat and all was well again.
Up until now.
Tim Callaghan is their resident handy man with very sticky fingers as folks often find things missing after he is done working for them. That morning, Theo sees him fall from the second floor of the opposite building and soon cops invade Fabian village to investigate what is now looking like murder.
No sooner had the hubbub died down, Theo comes back from her night walk to find an insurance salesman type of guy standing on her washing machine. In the ensuing scuffle, Theo manages to injure him before he runs off across the adjacent terrace and escapes only to re-surface in her shop next morning asking for Nicole.
Bramwell Turlough is introduced to Theo by Nicole as a friend of a friend and convinced to let out one of her apartments for a “few” days. He turns out to be the director of the new women’s shelter opening in the village, something that most of the residents are up in arms against.
Then Nicole disappears only to resurface as a dead body in Haruto’s precious compost pile and discovered on the day of the Garden fair.
With the body count rising, Theo starts to work out what is really happening around her. She is more afraid of her secrets tumbling out of her closet than being murdered.
What I liked:
What I didn’t like:
The romance angle was not very well done and seemed pretty half baked to me. It didnt intrigue or excite me enough to be vested in it at all. Also the lack luster police investigation and the toned down insipid character of the lead detective was very boring.
A refreshing light-hearted and very quick read which I loved enough to look up the next book in the series. For me the hero of the book is the setting and the characters. Highly recommend this series which is the winner of St. Martin’s Minotaur/ Mystery Writers of America for First Crime Novel (2014)
If you like my book reviewing then perhaps you would like to check out another one here – Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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