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The Perfect Coed (Oak Grove Mysteries Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Susan's boyfriend, Jake Phillips, is also police chief of the Oak Grove campus and has been her lover for two years, despite administrative boundaries that discourage relationships between staff. But Susan, who can easily be called prickly, is not one to conform to rules as others might. When Jake calls Susan out of class, she's annoyed by the interruption as he tells her the foul trunk odor has been reported to him four times that day and asks for her permission to open the trunk. She agrees and Jake discovers the body of a campus coed who has been missing for a few days.
Susan becomes a prime suspect and despite the fact that campus and town police are investigating the murder, when Susan realizes she's being stalked and attempts on her life begin, she decides she must find the killer. This leads to conflict between Susan and Jake as he wants her to stay completely away from the investigation; she thus becomes less than forthright with him about sharing the information she learns.
When Susan breaks her ankle in an accident intended to do her much greater harm, her Aunt Jenny, somewhere in her seventies, hears about it and calls to tell her she's driving the five hours to Susan's house to stay with her awhile. Susan is conflicted because, while she dearly loves Aunt Jenny, she treasures the solitude her home provides her and, often, Jake. Aunt Jenny will not hear "no," however; she soon arrives, and easily endears herself to Jake and other town residents, including a retired, recently widowed judge. Aunt Jenny becomes an important part of solving the mystery, as well, as she charms and cooks fabulous meals for everyone who enters into her life in Oak Grove.
Judy Alter's cozies always move through mysterious twists and turns at a strong pace, and the characters and events in The Perfect Coed carry on her tradition. For any cozy mystery reader fan, The Perfect Coed is a delightful read from start to the surprising ending, and makes me hope we've not seen the last of Susan, Jake, and Aunt Jenny.
by Mary Jo Doig
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
Overall though the book dragged in the middle with the addition of a visiting elderly aunt who frowns upon shacking up with a boyfriend before marriage and this sort of thing. An ex judge also added a fair bit of implausibility to the story. You also wondering the whole time why Susan who should be a woman who can handle things and show that women can achieve anything if that's what she is trying to instil on young girls, constantly needed her boyfriend to save her from situations and take care of her. Maybe another female lecturer would have made a better choice to assist her with solving the murder and staying out of jail than a big strong security guard type male.
When a missing person is inescapably tied Susan Hogan, some of the police assume she’s guilty. She knows she’s not, and happily, she has a useful connection in the police department, in boyfriend Jake. Jake is a bit long-suffering, but a likable guy and truly believes her innocent.
Susan is an unusual, youngish-but still absentminded professor type; not easily fooled, but still sympathetic to her students. This main character immediately likable, mostly for her human qualities. She’s both forgetful and sharp, as well as quick-witted. While she doesn’t want to be blamed for a murder, she doesn’t start investigating until it seems as if she has become a target, as well.
There are intriguing potential suspects, from fellow classmates of the student to certain faculty members that might be putting a more devious plan in mind. Its unpredictable, in exactly the way a good mystery should be. You’ll be puzzling over clues and characters as you go.
Red-herrings also abound, as someone, we soon discover, must have set Susan up. Sorting the real clues from the ‘placed’ is all part of the challenge.
I also enjoyed the quick conversations and some of the secondary characters; the toad-like Ernie springs to mind. Aunt Jenny, every bit as stubborn as Susan herself, is another star performer. Aunt Jenny seemed to be whipping up dinner (centered around beef) for every disaster. Great, individual and interesting characters and simply super writing make this a must-read for mystery fans.
originally posted at long and short reviews.