Guest Post by Greg Messel

Shadows in the Fog bannerTitle: Shadows in the Fog

Author: Greg Messel

Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing

Pages: 353

Genre: Mystery Thriller

Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Shadows in the Fog 2

The story begins on a stormy morning in February of 1959. The front page of the morning paper is dominated by news of the plane crash which killed rock ’n roll stars Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens.

Private Eye Sam Slater is hired to perform what he thinks is a routine two-day job as a favor for a friend. However, it all goes terribly wrong when a young San Francisco policeman is gunned down while sitting in a parked car with Sam.

The murder sets off a chain of events which will pull Sam and his wife and partner, Amelia, into a dangerous web of intrigue in the dark, shadowy alleys and back rooms of San Francisco’s Chinatown.

In the winter of 1959, Amelia resigns as a TWA stewardess and is now Sam’s full time partner in the private eye business.

Sam and Amelia inadvertently come in conflict with the San Francisco mob boss after helping a crusading newspaper reporter who is working to expose corruption in Chinatown. Now a mysterious dark car follows the Slaters every where they go. Sam and Amelia discover a hidden world of corrupt cops, gambling parlors, brothels and human trafficking exists right under their noses.

At the same time, a rising California politician hires Sam and Amelia to find his daughter who disappeared without a trace three years earlier. The search is prompted by the sudden appearance of a letter from the woman, who was presumed dead.

As Sam and Amelia pursue these cases, they discover that all the clues lead them back to Chinatown. The Slaters want to avoid taking on the San Francisco crime lords head-on. However, when Amelia is kidnapped in an alley during the Chinese New Year’s celebration, Sam plunges himself into danger desperately searching Chinatown to find her before it’s too late.

The reader will be drawn into fast moving events which culminate in a harrowing conclusion as Sam Slater races against the clock on a foggy night in Chinatown.

“Shadows In The Fog” is the fifth book in the the award winning Sam Slater Mysteries Series but is a stand-alone thriller in the tradition of great whodunits.

Book Excerpt:

The heavy blanket of clouds that had hung on the city all day was especially thick in the Ocean Beach area near Playland. It felt like rain.

When Amelia arrived at her car, which she had parked in a side lot by the Funhouse, she opened the door before removing her trench coat and tossing it on the front seat. She had been overdressed in Cassandra’s parlor, leaving on her coat over her gray wool dress.

As she stood by her car, a slow moving large blue car caught her eye. She froze. There were two lines of parked cars in the lot.  Amelia noticed that the driver of the car seemed to be watching her as he slowly drove through the parking lot.

She watched the man suspiciously and wondered if he might be looking for a parking spot. Maybe the man in the blue car was waiting for her to vacate her spot. Amelia continue to watch him and thought if he tried something she could always turn and run into the Funhouse.

The large blue car then stopped as it entered the row where Amelia was parked.

Amelia leaned in to place her purse on the seat and thought of taking the handgun out of her purse. It was then that the blue car suddenly accelerated and then slammed on it’s brakes with a screech right behind Amelia’s car.

Amelia had been concentrating on the slow-moving car and never saw the second man rapidly approaching her from behind.  The assailant put a black hood over Amelia’s head and grabbed her arm, painfully twisting it behind her before pushing her into the back seat of the blue car. The swiftness of the attack was so unexpected that Amelia had no chance to cry out before she felt herself being held down on the back seat by the large powerful man.

She heard the car door slam. “Let’s get outta here!” the man said to his partner and the car began to drive away.


By Greg Messel

That IS the question. It is a question that as an author you usually need to answer in less than 30 seconds. For many authors including me at times, it’s a more difficult question than non-writers might imagine.

I have watched potential customers and readers at bookstore signings and book festivals. I’ve observed their actions and their faces. They often pick up the book and look at the cover. Then they flip it over and read the summary on the back. I know I have just seconds to make the case which will convince them to not put the book back on the table.

As I watch them read the jacket or the back of a paperback copy of my book, I think of the time I’ve spent trying to craft a concise, yet interesting summary of my story.

I once had a boss who said you always need to have your “elevator speech” ready.  An elevator speech is needed to quickly explain a quick concept. When I enter a elevator to ride to a higher floor, what would I say if someone said, “what is your book about?”

I now have less than a minute until me or the person asking the question, will get off of the elevator. There is no time to hesitate, no time to hum and haw to get your thoughts going. It’s the essence of your sales pitch. “Why should I buy your book?” they are asking.

There’s a classic example in the movie “Sideways” of what not to do when asked “So what is your novel about?”

Miles, the main character in the movie, has written a novel is asked what his novel is about.

He says, “Well, it’s a little difficult to summarize. It begins as a first-person account of a guy taking care of his father after a stroke. Kind of based on personal experience, but only loosely.”

“What’s the title?”

“The Day After Yesterday.”

“Oh. You mean…today?”

“Um…yeah but it’s more.”

“So is it kind of about death and mortality?”

Mrnum, yeah…but not really. It shifts around a lot.”

You must find a happy medium between an extended, long-winded summary of the plot and a quick but uninformative answer such as the one given by Miles.

Why should a reader want to spend their time reading my book out of all of the choices there are out there? I’ve been to the LA Festival of Books and had signings at book stores where you feel that you are in the presence of people who love books.

However, I remember two book signings at Costco.  It was then I really felt like a commodity.  I  was sitting at my table full of my books smiling and saying hello. A shopper comes by with a shopping cart full of toilet paper, bug spray for their rose bushes and a package of 48 frozen burritos. They stop and pick up my book. They look over the cover and then flip it over to read the summary.

To the author, this book is a piece of your soul. I’ve spent almost a year, carefully writing and re-writing this book. I’ve agonized over the title and cover design. I written more summaries of what this book is about then I can count.

It now comes down to this–the person looking at the book jacket is wondering, “why should I give you 14 bucks for this book?” Is there something about my book which is going to make it worth it or should they pick up another of the hundreds of books piled on shelves directly behind me? Or should they forget the book and just buy a new sweatshirt?  

When I watch a potential reader or buyer carefully looking over the outside of my book, it makes me glad that I have a well-designed cover or a good summary on the back. The clock is ticking. What will they decide?

So here we go. You have just got on the elevator with me and asked what my books are about. 

The Sam Slater Mystery series is about a retired baseball player, Sam Slater, in 1958 San Francisco. Sam joins his friend’s private eye business but when his buddy is murdered he must go it alone. At that same time he meets a dazzling, Elvis obsessed TWA stewardess named Amelia Ryan who eventually becomes his wife and partner in the business. These two novices become crime fighters and are usually in way over their heads with gangsters, murderers and blackmailers. 

Ding. Time to get off at the next floor.

Greg Messel is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway begins December 1 and ends February 13.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, February 16.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!


About the Author: Greg Messel 

Greg Messel has spent most of his adult life interested in writing, including a career in the newspaper business. He won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist and has contributed articles to various magazines. Greg retired from the corporate world and now lives in South Jordan, Utah with his wife of over 40 years, Carol Madsen Messel. They have three adult children who are married and have 11 grandchildren.

Greg has written eight novels. His latest is “Shadows In The Fog” which is the fifth in a series of mysteries set in 1959 San Francisco. “Fog City Strangler,” “San Francisco Secrets,” “Deadly Plunge” are sequels to the first book in the series “Last of the Seals.” His other three novels are “Sunbreaks,” “Expiation” and “The Illusion of Certainty.”

Greg is currently working on his ninth novel–the sixth in the mystery series–“Cable Car Mystery”–which will be published in late 2015.

For More Information

  • More books by Greg Messel.

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