The Color of Fear
by Judy Alter

Alter Ego Publishing, 2017. ISBN 978-0-999-03710-2.
Reviewed by Diane Stanton
Posted on 10/30/2017

Fiction: Mystery

The Color of Fear by Judy Alter is book seven in the Kelly O'Connell Mystery series. It is a slim novella packed full of strong characters and a concise and subtle synopsis of the development of the previous tales. And, slim though it may be, it packages a tightly woven cozy mystery.

The central characters include Kelly, her assistant Keisha, her husband Detective Shandy, and her baby Grace. New to the series, this reader found the narrator, Keisha, to be exceptionally engaging and informative. Following her narration is akin to having coffee with a new friend and Keisha does a great job of updating the reader on the backstory of the previous misadventures she has shared with Kelly.

About halfway through the work, author Judy Alter weaves some choice threads of the series history into Keisha's analysis of Kelly's current story and predicament. This is a tremendous help to those of us trying to piece together the history and relationships of the current story. The chatty style of Keisha's commentary draws the reader onto her ruminations and provides a taste of the varied experiences the two have shared, including tangling with deranged serial killer and a sociopathic televangelist.

The current crisis involves a threat to Kelly's baby. The televangelist has escaped from a maximum-security prison and is considered a prime threat. But he is not the only one, and the story proceeds to unravel the possible threats—concluding, of course, with a surprise ending.

Character development is a solid strength for Ms. Alter and the individual voices are surprisingly well developed for such a short work. This brief and satisfying introduction to the series will certainly serve as an impetus to read more of this author's work, particularly more of the Kelly O'Connell books.

Read an excerpt from this book.

An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of six books in the Kelly O'Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, Danger Comes Home, Deception in Strange Places, and Desperate for Death. In this novella, The Color of Fear, she picks up the characters and action of the Kelly O'Connell Mysteries, signaling her intention to continue the series. She also writes the Blue Plate Café Mysteries—Murder at the Blue Plate Café, Murder at the Tremont House and Murder at Peacock Mansion. With the 2014 The Perfect Coed, she introduced the Oak Grove Mysteries and in 2016 she returned to her Chicago roots to write the historical novel, The Gilded Cage, which uses one unusual woman's life to examine social structure and labor relations in the late 19th Century. Visit her website. has received a copy of this book for review from the author, publisher, or publicist. We have received no other compensation.

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