Alter Ego Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9960131-1-6 (digital)
ISBN 978-0-9960131-0-9 (trade paperback)
Few mysteries open with a single paragraph of eye-popping intrigue, but The Perfect Coed is full of such moments and its introduction is apt warning that readers will rapidly become involved in something far from mundane or predictable: “Susan Hogan drove around Oak Grove, Texas, for two days before she realized there was a dead body in the trunk of her car. And it was another three days before she knew that someone was trying to kill her.”
True, The Perfect Coed‘s title sounds more like chic lit than a mystery; plus, it tends to not follow the standard formula writing of the mystery genre. And that’s where it gets interesting.
Protagonist Susan is both intelligent and combative. She’s abrasive with those who love her, let alone when a coed’s body is discovered in the trunk of her car, effectively placing her under suspicion of murder.
There’s only one solution to this dilemma: become a self-made investigator. And so the process of Susan’s name-clearing begins: a move which eventually invites the inevitable when someone on campus begins to stalk her.
The stalker obviously doesn’t know who he’s dealing with, however, and Susan’s feisty personality serves her well as she finds herself struggling not only to solve a murder, but to prevent her own demise.
Up till now, The Perfect Coed sounds somewhat predictable. After all, a plethora of murder mysteries center on protagonists who are not professionals and who take on the task of investigation only because they (or loved ones) are threatened.
But a big ‘plus’ of Judy Alter’s approach lies in its ability to gently lead readers up the garden path of predictability, then take a sudden turn. Ergo, what begins as a murder investigation turns into something much more complex as readers discover that Susan’s singular purpose has turned into an unbelievably complex series of events that threatens more than her own life.
It’s the hallmark of a good murder mystery that the stage is properly set, the personalities of all the players are well-developed, and the plot evolves into something much more than a standard read.
Susan’s discoveries on what was a quiet Texas college campus hold far greater ramifications than a single sociopath’s intentions, and will involve readers in a growing web of terror and tension that’s delightfully well-wrought.
Original publication: D. Donovan, Senior E-Book Reviewer, Midwest Book Reviews