Another Bouchercon find, although I think I might have had this title on my "Maybe" list for awhile a few years back. If it was, it was because the title intrigued me, but I didn't get a strong enough vibe from the blurb to commit. Susan Cox was one of the participants in Bouchercon's Author Speed Dating event, and my interest was renewed.
I liked it, and I'm interested in reading the next one, but my enjoyment wasn't without reservations. Either Cox's writing style and I were not in sync, or it was poorly edited before going to print. This is one of those situations where it could go either way: Cox's style is a bit loose and free form, so I often felt like the MC, Theo's, thoughts jumped around, or she made connections without a clear line of reasoning, or - and I'm blaming the editing for this one in particular - there would be an abrupt change of narrative topic or scene.
Otherwise, it had great bones. Theo is hard to warm to, but she's in hiding, so maybe her need to stay detached extends to the reader too (the POV is first first past, or after-the-fact). But the San Francisco neighborhood, and most of the characters involved in the mystery, come alive.
The story starts with a man pushed out of a window and before it's all solved, there are smugglers, compost-obsessed-gardeners, machetes, a suspiciously-acting possible love interest, and yes, a man on a washing machine. It all ties together in the end, sort of. Mostly.
This is a first novel as well as a first in a series, and frankly, it shows. The narrative could have flowed better, the plot could have been tighter, more cohesive. But as I said, it has good bones, and there's a lot of potential in this odd but glorious neighbourhood Susan Cox has created. I definitely want to see where she takes it.