Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fog City Strangler by Greg Messel (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Fog City Strangler by Author Greg Messel!

Author Guest Post

The Streets Of San Francisco

Since I was a small child, I’ve been in love with San Francisco. I grew up in the East Bay town of Concord, California, which is about 30 miles east of San Francisco.

I’ve spent a good share of my life, going to San Francisco to have fun. Even though I live farther away from this magical city now, I still return and it is a place I dearly love.

One reviewer said of my Sam Slater Mystery books that one of the main characters in the books is the city of San Francisco. I’m excited to have Fog City Strangler published and available to readers. I plan at least two more in the series.

While I’m promoting Fog City Strangler, I’m busy writing my next book in the series-- Shadows In The Fog--which should be out by the end of this year.

Last summer when I returned to the Bay Area I spent a day in San Francisco, drinking in the sites but also imaging different locations for my books. I wanted to refresh my memory in some cases and make sure things are as I remember. I research the locations as best I can, to imagine what they were like in the 1950s compared to now.

In some cases I do remember what it was like in the 1950s. For instance, one of my favorite locations in San Francisco is called the Cannery. My wife and I loved to go there and when we were dating in high school we would go to the Cannery, which is a collection of restaurants, shops and nearby is the old Ghirardelli Chocolate factory.

When Sam Slater walked the streets of San Francisco, the Cannery was still a cannery, for Dole Pineapple. 

Last summer I visited Coit Tower and drove down the steep hills of Telegraph HIll. Coit Tower and the steep streets which surround it, figure prominently in the plot of San Francisco Secrets.

 I also walked up and down Filbert Street where Sam and Amelia have a harrowing ride after the brakes on their car are tampered with in San Francisco Secrets.

I drove out to historic Fort Point at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge which is a key location in the second book in the series Deadly Plunge. One of my favorite places in San Francisco is the Palace of Fine Arts. I walked around the pond on the path where a Russian diplomat is murdered in Deadly Plunge.

On my recent trips to San Francisco I’ve even driven through Sam and Amelia’s old neighborhood in the Mission District. It has changed a lot since the 1950s. For one thing, sadly there is a Safeway store on the hallowed ground once occupied by Seals Stadium. I will always think of Sam Slater and Amelia Ryan when I drive by the corner of 16th and Valencia. It’s the fictional location of Sam’s apartment building.

I love to use the photos from the San Francisco Historical Society in my books. I think they add a lot and hope readers agree. I have to get permission to use them and they have been wonderful to work with. They have copies of my books in their archives.

I’ve always been very fond of Stinson Beach, a beach town north of San Francisco, which is the location of key events in Fog City Strangler. I liked to go to Stinson Beach in the summer when I was a teenager. There were also a few occasions when I cut school with my friends and went to Stinson Beach. I always wondered how we got away with it. Me and my friends would return from our “sick day” with sunburned cheeks after our day at Stinson Beach.

Napa Valley is a beautiful place and world famous for it’s vineyards and wineries. In 1958 the California wine industry was on the cusp of making a name for itself.

I’ve always loved the movies of Alfred Hitchcock as you can probably tell from my books. I discovered a book called Footsteps in the Fog. Hitchcock shot several movies in San Francisco in the 1950s and 1960s. Footsteps in the Fog talks about the locations he used and showed photos of him scouting locations in the City-By-The-Bay.

I hope I’m following his footsteps in the fog.

I had one reader ask if all of the detail in Last of the Seals, Deadly Plunge, San Francisco Secrets and Fog City Strangler is real? My answer is as real as I can possibly make it. The 1950s world of San Francisco, where Sam and Amelia live, in very alive in my memory.

About The Author

Greg Messel grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives in Edmonds, Washington on the Puget Sound with his wife, Carol. Fog City Strangler is his seventh novel and is the fourth in a new series of Sam Slater mystery novels. Greg has lived in Oregon, Washington, California, Wyoming and Utah and has always loved writing, including stints as a reporter, columnist and news editor for a daily newspaper.

Follow news about Messel’s writings and books at


Fog City Strangler - Book Trailer

Book Review

Fog City Strangler by Greg Messel
Book 4: Sam Slater Mystery Series
Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing
Publication Date: December 16, 2013
Format: Paperback - 496 pages / Kindle - 5221 KB 
ISBN: 0985485973
Genre: Historical Mystery / Suspense / Thriller / Romance

BUY THE BOOK: Fog City Strangler

BUY THE SERIES: Sam Slater Mystery Series
Book 1: Last of the Seals
Book 2: Deadly Plunge
Book 3: San Francisco Secrets
Book 4: Fog City Strangler

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours. 

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.

Book Description:

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 cloth from the victim’s dresses to the local newspapers.

Private eye Sam Slater is worried that the Fog City Strangler may be eyeing his beautiful blonde wife, stewardess Amelia Ryan. Sam’s angst mounts as the strangler continues to claim more victims. 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.

Fog City Strangler is a stand-alone thriller but is part of the Sam Slater Mystery Series--Last of the SealsDeadly Plunge and San Francisco Secrets.

Book Excerpt:

First Chapter: 
Stinson Beach 
November 29, 1958

Amelia Slater had only slept a short time before she was startled awake by crashing and banging noises outside the beach house on Stinson Beach where she was staying with her husband Sam Slater.

Shortly after she awoke, another physical sensation hit her as she regained consciousness. She was really cold. She tried to see if Sam was awake but the darkness was so thick that she couldn’t see him even though he was right next to her in the bed.

The house where Sam and Amelia were staying seemed to be right in the bull’s eye of an unusually fierce early winter storm that was zeroing in on the northern California coast. Storm warnings were up for the coast for high winds followed by heavy rains. The fury of the storm raged outside the large window of Sam and Amelia’s bedroom as the winds whistled through the rain gutters of the beach house and rattled the windows.

The two-story beach house was perched on a steep hill which thrust up from the sandy, wide beach below. The master bedroom where Sam and Amelia were sleeping had a large sliding glass door which opened out onto a deck that surrounded the house on the second story offering spectacular vistas of the beach below.

The beach house also had a round turret with a large leaded-glassed window of Neptune, Kind of the Sea, flanked by two large fish with curvy tails. On the roof was a large weather vane of a gray whale which was spinning like a top in the high winds.

Beach access from the house was a wooden stair case which was built on the steep hill that was covered by thick, low-growing masses of blooming ice plant. The staircase had obviously been replaced recently since the wood had not yet become the weathered gray color of the rest of the house. The raging storm was roiling the foamy surf which crashed onto Stinson Beach and was lapping up at the bottom of the wooden stairs.

Their sleep had been brief. In preparation for a stormy night, Sam and Amelia had found flashlights and candles to put on the nightstands on either side of the bed in case they lost power.

Sam detected Amelia stirring next to him in bed and tried to click on the lamp on the nightstand. It was then that he discovered that the house had no power. Sam reached into the darkness until his hand touched the flashlight. He then clicked it on to look at his wristwatch which was on the table. It was 1:15 a.m.

“Amelia,” Sam said softly, “are you awake?”

“Yeah,” came the reply out of the pitch darkness of the bedroom. “How could anyone sleep through this? I’ve been awake for a while. I didn’t want to bother you in case you had been able to get to sleep.”

“No such luck. It’s freezing in the house. I’m going to go check on things. Maybe I can get a fire going in the fireplace. Light the candles. I’m going to go see if the house is okay. I heard some really loud noises earlier.”

Sam didn’t want to unnecessarily alarm Amelia but he’d swear he had heard footsteps earlier, like someone running through the house. He couldn’t be sure because of the sounds of the raging storm.

Sam clicked on his flashlight so Amelia could find the matches. After she lit the first candle, Sam disappeared into the darkness. Amelia watched as the shafts of light from Sam’s flashlight vanished from sight as he began to walk through the house.

Amelia picked up the candle and made her way to a chair to retrieve her coat which she put on over her nightgown to fight off the chill. She listened intently and could hear some thumping noises. She wasn’t sure if source of the banging was Sam or the storm.

“Sam! Sam!” Amelia called. “Where are you? Sam, is that you?”

There was no response.

The large floor-to-ceiling glass doors which opened off of the bedroom were rattling to the point where Amelia wondered if they would be able to withstand the strong winds. Amelia heard noises outside on the deck and saw a shadowy figure throwing a large can which clanked onto the deck. The man then turned and ran. She strained her eyes against the dense darkness.

Amelia instinctively walked towards the glass doors. She wondered if the man on the deck was Sam. If it was, what was he doing?

She held up the candle but could see nothing. She reached for the flashlight on the table and clicked it on. Amelia shined it out the glass door, but she could see nothing but her own reflection. As she walked closer the beam of her flashlight fell on a red gas can lying on it’s side on the deck.

Amelia moved closer towards the door and then to her horror she saw flames racing across the deck outside the doors. Amelia was simultaneously confused and frozen with terror as she watched the deck become a wall of fire being buffeted by the high winds from the storm.

The bewildered Amelia shrieked before turning to run towards the bedroom door with the flashlight illuminating her path. She began shouting Sam’s name as loudly as she could. As she opened the bedroom door two shots rang out and ricocheted off the wall and door frame above her head.

Amelia squealed and retreated into the bedroom, slamming the door. She looked for a way to lock the door to protect her self from the assailant but there was no lock. It was an old fashioned lock that required a skeleton key.

There was so much noise from the fire roaring outside on the deck and that storm, that Amelia couldn’t tell if the shooter was pursuing her further or attempting to break down the bedroom door. She leaned against the door but knew she would be defenseless if the gunman wanted to force his way into the bedroom.

Where was Sam? Was he okay? Who fired the shots at her? Who set the deck on fire?

Amelia was now trapped between an unknown assailant outside her bedroom door and the fire raging on the deck on the other side of the glass doors. She knew she had just moments to make a decision about how to escape.

She decided to take her chance on the deck since the shadowy figure who fired the shots at her was undoubtedly just outside her bedroom.

Amelia tried to grasp the door handle to the sliding glass door but it was getting hot. She couldn’t figure out how to unlock it and didn’t have time in the darkness to deal with it. Amelia decided to take more direct action--she picked up a wooden chair and threw it at the large glass doors onto the deck. 

The chair cracked the glass but mostly bounced off of the door and fell onto the floor. She quickly scanned the room for something heavier that she could throw through the glass door.

Amelia spotted a large metal paperweight on a writing desk in the bedroom. It looked like some kind of navigation tool from a boat. Amelia cocked her arm and threw it as hard as she could at the cracked glass door.

That did the trick, but the glass shards from the door went flying all over the bedroom floor and the deck. The breaking of the door only made her situation worse as the high winds now pushed the flames into the bedroom and closer to Amelia.

The curtains around the large glass door ignited as the fire now snaked it’s way towards Amelia. It was now going to be impossible for Amelia to escape onto the deck because of the intensity of the flames. Amelia let out a blood curdling scream. “Sam! Sam! Help! Sam, help me!”

The storm and the crackling of the fire which exploded into the bedroom onto new sources of fuel drowned out Amelia’s cries for help. She eyed the bedroom door and decided she had to open it and confront whatever was on the other side.

Sam had taken his gun when he left moments ago. She had no idea what had happened to him. The defenseless Amelia stood in front of the closed bedroom door, She glanced over her shoulder at the advancing flames.

Amelia didn’t know what awaited her on the other side of the door but she was going to have to make a break for it.

To her horror when she grabbed the knob and turned it but the door was locked. Someone had used a skeleton key to lock her in the burning bedroom.

She was trapped.

My Book Review:

In Fog City Strangler, the fourth book in the Sam Slater Mystery series, former baseball player turned private investigator Sam Slater is back with a new case to investigate. Sam and wife Amelia, a TWA stewardess are hired by a wealthy San Francisco dowager to find her missing daughter who disappeared while walking her dog on Stinson Beach. And to complicate matters even more, there is a serial killer calling himself the "Fog City Strangler," who preys on beautiful young blonde women, and leaves his calling card by sending a note and a piece of the victim's clothing to the local newspapers. Sam is worried that the serial killer will go after Amelia, his lovely blonde hair wife, who is featured on TWA's latest billboard campaign.

Author Greg Messel once again weaves another action packed tale of romance, mystery and suspense set in 1958 San Francisco. Written in the third person narrative, Sam and Amelia's latest riveting mystery adventure takes the reader on a thrilling ride with enough twists and turns that will keep them guessing. And if that isn't enough to whet your appetite, Sam and Amelia's marriage will be tested when the Fog City Strangler sets his sight on Amelia.

Of the four books in the series, this book is my favorite as the focus on Sam and Amelia's relationship is taken to the next level with their marriage and it is cleverly interwoven with the two mystery investigations. I loved the balance of mystery and romance that the author interweaves throughout the story. Fog City Strangler is rich in detail and vivid description of the authentic 1958 San Francisco time period. The author provides the reader with some really wonderful historical facts, statistics and pictures from that time period, you can't help but become captivated with the amount of interesting information that the author provides the reader throughout the story.

With a cast of characters who are interesting and draw the reader into their lives with their witty dialogue and dramatic interactions; and a riveting storyline that has enough intrigue, suspense, twist and turns, and a steamy romance that keeps the reader engaged and turning the pages, Fog City Strangler is one heck of an entertaining romantic mystery novel.

Fog City Strangler will captivate your imagination, while the mystery and will keep you guessing as you follow Sam and Amelia on their latest investigative adventure.

Fog City Strangler is the fourth book in the Sam Slater Mystery Series, but can be read as a stand alone story. The author does reference characters and storyline plots from the other three books in the series, but he interweaves them so smoothly that the reader won't get lost or feel like they have missed anything. However, I would recommend that you follow the sequence of the books in the series, because once you have been drawn into Sam Slater's latest investigative adventures, you will be hooked and want to follow him onto his next adventure!


Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Author Greg Messel is giving away a 3 book set of his Sam Slater Mystery Series (Last of the Seals, Deadly Plunge and San Francisco Secrets) AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card! 

• By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
• One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive the 3 book set and $25 Amazon Gift Card. • This giveaway begins February 3 and ends on March 28. 
• Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, March 31, 2014. 
• Winner has 48 hours to reply. 

Good luck everyone! 


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

Monday, February 3 
Interview at Examiner 

Tuesday, February 4 
Book Trailer Reveal at The Book Connection 

Wednesday, February 5 
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Vic’s Media Room 

Thursday, February 6 
Interview at Mia Downing 

Friday, February 7 
Book Featured at Margay Leah Justice 

Sunday, February 9 
Book Review at Memories in a Box 

Monday, February 10 
Book Review at Miki’s Hope 

Tuesday, February 11 
Book Review at Carol’s Notebook 

Wednesday, February 12 
Book Review at Not Everyone’s Mama 

Friday, February 14 
Book Featured at Raven Reviews 

Monday, February 17 
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Queen of All She Reads 

Tuesday, February 18 
Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner 

Wednesday, February 19 
Book Review at Emeraldfire’s Bookmarkmark 

Thursday, February 20 
Book Featured at Emeraldfire’s Bookmark 

Friday, February 21 
Book Review at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense 

Saturday, February 22 
Book Review at Bound 4 Escape 

Monday, February 24 
Book Featured at Literary Winner 

Tuesday, February 25 
Guest Blogging at My Reading Table 

Wednesday, February 26 
Book Trailer Reveal at The Dark Phantom 

Thursday, February 27 \
Book Featured at My Reading Table 

Friday, February 28 
Book Review at Celtic Lady’s Reviews 

Monday, March 3 
Interview at Authors to Watch 

Tuesday, March 4 
Interview at As the Page Turns 
Book Trailer Reveal at Confessions of a Reader 

Wednesday, March 5 
Book Review at Books, Reviews, ETC. 
Guest Blogging at Alaskan Book Cafe 

Thursday, March 6 
Book Featured at Bookalicious Travel Addict 

Friday, March 7 
Book Review at My Reading Table 

Monday, March 10 
Book Trailer Reveal at Emeraldfire’s Bookmark 

Tuesday, March 11 
Book Review at Deal Sharing Aunt 

Wednesday, March 12 
Guest Blogging at Bookingly Yours 

Thursday, March 13 
Book Review at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews 

Friday, March 14 
Book Review at Bibliotica 

Monday, March 17 
Book Review at Bless Their Hearts Moms 
Guest Blogging at Books Books the Magical Fruit 

Tuesday, March 18 
Book Review at Southeast by Midwest 
Book Review at Every Free Chance Book Reviews 

Wednesday, March 19 
Guest Blogging at The Writer’s Life 

Thursday, March 20 
Book Featured at My Devotional Thoughts 

Friday, March 21 
Book Review & Guest Blogging at My Book Addiction and More 
Book Featured at Confessions of a Reader 
Guest Blogging at I Heart Reading 

Monday, March 24 
Interview at PUYB Virtual Book Club 

Tuesday, March 25 
Book Trailer Reveal at Literarily Speaking 

Wednesday, March 26 
Book Featured at Authors & Readers Book Corner 

Thursday, March 27 
Book Review at Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks 
Guest Blogging at Cherry Mischievous 

Friday, March 28 
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews 
Book Featured at Maureen’s Musings 
Book Review at From the TBR Pile


  1. Visiting San Francisco is on my bucket list. I read a paranormal cozy series also based there. I'd visit the Height, and look for the ghosts of the 60's, walk along the streets where the historic houses are.

    The city (no matter the year) is and was just magical.

    1. Hi Nora! Thank you for visiting my blog. I would love to visit SF and walk the streets soaking up all the landmarks that are described in Greg's novel. :)

  2. It's a wonderful place. Thanks for hosting me and for you review.

    1. Hi Greg! SF does sound like it is a wonderful place, especially with the rich descriptions that you include throughout your novel. Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event.

  3. Being from the Bay Area myself I am always drawn to books that I can relate to geographically. Messel's book looks great! All the genres I love that this covers too. I have been reading a couple great romanctic suspense reads by Adrienne Giordano, She is fantastic, but it's time to switch gears, Messel's book is next! Great Review!

    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving your kind comment. I hope you enjoy reading Greg's books. :)