Title: Fog City Strangler
Author: Greg Messel
Published: December 16, 2013 by Sunbreaks Publishing
As 1958 nears an end San Francisco is being terrorized by a man who calls himself the “Fog City Strangler,” who preys on pretty young blonde women. The strangler announces each murder by sending a note and piece of the victim’s clothing to the local newspapers.
Angst mounts as the strangler continues to claim more victims. Private eye Sam Slater is worried that the Fog City Strangler may be eyeing his beautiful blonde wife, TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan. His anxiety is further fueled when TWA launches an advertising campaign with Amelia’s picture on a series of billboards plastered all over the city. Sam fears the billboards may attract too much attention–the wrong kind of attention.
Meanwhile, Sam and Amelia are hired to try to find the missing daughter of a wealthy dowager who fears she has lost her only child. The missing woman went for a walk with her dog on Stinson Beach, near San Francisco, and seemingly vanished into thin air. The woman’s husband arrived at their beach house and found the dog running loose but there was no trace of his wife. The police are stumped in their investigation.
As Sam and Amelia look into the disappearance of the woman on the beach they discover that nothing is as it seems at first glance. On a stormy night a shadowy figure sets fire to the beach house where the couple is staying–hoping to stop their investigation.
I’m sorry, I just could not finish Fog City Strangler. Well, technically I could have, but I was at the point where I was nit-picking every other sentence and just not enjoying it at all, so I quit. I was on page 171 of 480, so these are my thoughts up until that point. Maybe it vastly improved over the second half, I don’t know, and to be honest I don’t really care.
The plot is good enough. There’s a killer terrifying San Francisco. There’s also a missing woman who Sam and Amelia are trying to find. And Sam and Amelia’s neighbors are odd, the husband may be a creep.
I liked a couple of things about the book. First the time period. The late 1950s is interesting and fun. I also liked the black and white photos that were included. showing people and places relevant to the story and to San Francisco in ’58.
I didn’t really care about the characters. Amelia is a little too perfect. Sam seemed okay, but actually a little dull for a PI. By dull I meant boring, not stupid. I actually didn’t mind the romance between the two, it added to the story-line, but felt a bit cheesy at times.
What killed the book for me was the writing. It’s too simple maybe, “Scooby-Dooish” my husband said. The dialogue didn’t seem realistic and I felt he spent too much time telling me things, rather than showing. And telling us over and over again.
A few examples:
Amelia burst into a neon smile as her big blue eyes twinkled with excitement when she caught sight of Sam. Today was no exception, and Amelia even burst into a jog when she saw Sam as she moved away from the other stewardesses to greet her lover and secret husband. (pg 42)
Amelia complies and Regina delicately took Amelia’s hand and held it. “You’re such a lovely lady Amelia . You have a sweetness about you that makes you even more beautiful.” . . . “I understand Sam was also a war hero on D Day,” Regina said softly staring into Amelia’s large eyes. (pg 67)
“With all the billboard hoopla since I got home, I didn’t have a change to ask you about the strangler. Were there any other girls killed this week?” (pg 172)
The is the fourth in the series, although it did work as a stand-alone. that I felt I had enough background on the characters and setting to not feel like I wasn’t missing out on anything. Maybe if I had started at the beginning of the series I would have been invested in the story and willing to overlook the writing, but probably not. There are a couple positive reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, so maybe I’m in the minority, but I didn’t want to waste any more of my time finding out who the strangler was. Actually, by the time I quit I knew who he was and how he picked his victims and how he got into the apartments, so I guess I didn’t care about the missing lady.
Sam Slater / Amelia Ryan Series
- Last of the Seals
- Deadly Plunge
- San Francisco Secrets
- Fog City Strangler