Cox, Susan. 2015. The Man on the Washing Machine. New York: Macmillan (Minotaur Books). ISBN: 978-1250065803. $25.99 USD.
Winner of the Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel award, Susan Cox’s debut mystery is set in a close-knit community in San Francisco, and is full of well-drawn characters the reader will enjoy getting to know. Theophania Bogart has fled a family scandal in England and settled anonymously into a courtyard community in the Bay area. Theo witnesses a man fall from a nearby window and finds herself caught up in a series of crimes that ultimately affect her and her entire group of friends. A plump, grieving baker, a stoic surgeon ex-lover, a shady business partner, a troubled teen, a talented gardener, a grumpy Italian professor and the ubiquitous gay best friend surround the main character and provide humorous dialogue and intriguing plot elements. Rounding out this cast is a female Columbo-like detective and a handsome yet mysterious lawyer who runs a women’s shelter. As the crimes increase and the motives remain murky, the reader will have fun trying to figure out “who-done-it,” and will be surprised once the tale is told. A charming debut.