Sunday, January 6, 2013

Killer Frost Review and Reader Comments IV

Judy with tomatoes, summer 2009, in garden.


Here is the second review Killer Frost has had.  Thank you, Carolyn Mulford.  You can also find it on her website


Jan. 3, 2013

Book review
Writing Teachers Will Relate to Mystery’s Setting

Anyone who has taught a basic English or creative writing course will recognize some of the characters and situations in Killer Frost, a debut mystery by Judy Hogan. 

Most of the book takes place at a financially and academically distressed historically black college in North Carolina. An idealistic untenured professor wars against the  administration to bring ill-prepared but determined students up to standard and to give gifted ones a chance to soar. He brings in Penny Weaver, a dedicated white writer/teacher, to take over both the remedial and the creative writing classes.

Hogan obviously knows both groups of students well, and some of her best scenes involve teaching rather than detecting. Finding the killer takes second place to rescuing the students from poor teaching, bad conditions, and the burnt-out and corrupt staff.  The victims’ behavior had given faculty and students reasons to want to murder them. 

The major subplot revolves around Penny’s disconcerting attraction to the professor who hired her (both are happily married). A more effective subplot involves her difficult relationship with her single-mother daughter. 

Some of the numerous characters in Killer Frost live on the page. Unfortunately some students get lost in the classroom, and neighbors overpopulate Penny’s diverse community. Most talk too much and act too little—until the fast-paced climactic scene, which ends with a satisfying twist.

Killer Frost, by Judy Hogan, Mainly Murder Press, 2012, 244 pp., $15.95 in paperback and $2.99 in e-book; ISBN: 978-0-9836823-8-7. For more information about the writer, her work, and where to buy the book, go to


Here are some new reader comments.  Always welcome!



From gifted writer Mindi Meltz (in an email 12-23-14): Great book! I just finished.  I’ve never read a mystery before.  Aside from the fact that the topic was very important and original and your treatment of it was so complex and sensitive, I really liked the ending.  Endings are important to me, and I feel like authors struggle with them; many books disappoint me at the end.  I liked that you didn’t provide any easy solutions to the many societal issues you brought up in the book–in fact, in a way, you didn’t offer any complete solutions–which is realistic and also inspires the reader to do more thinking on his/her own, while at the same time you didn’t leave the reader with a feeling of despair or “there is no solution” (which I feel is done too often in endings).  Instead there was a feeling of warmth, tenderness and admiration for both the kids who fight against impossible odds and the adults who fight for them...  It’s wonderful that you took on such a tough and meaningful topic.


From Natalya Ilyina, my Russian friend and teacher of literature at Kostroma University (in an email 12-24-12): I’ve read your novel and find that the theme is urgent here as well.  I dare say that no writer has ever tackled the problem with respect to education from the point of view you find necessary.  I think that it’s even more important than the detective part of the novel.  I congratulate you on the new niche in literature you have discovered.  Good luck! 

[Note: As a result of reading Killer Frost, Natalya, who is Chair of the Literature Department at Kostroma University invited me to a conference in April 2013, honoring their playwright Ostrovsky, but also taking up the subject of secondary and college/university education.  I can’t go, but I’ve offered to write a paper.]

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