‘Death of a Coupon Queen’ by Jenna Harte follows Sophie Parker as she finds herself entangled in the murder of Marla Naylor, the reigning ‘coupon queen’ of Jefferson Grove. Harte strikes a great balance between quirkiness and intrigue- what may seem like a wacky premise is perfectly blended with the peculiar events surrounding Marla’s death to form its own new take of the quintessential ‘who dun’ it.’ It is a mystery that the audience will be eagerly turning the pages of the book to see the next piece of the puzzle Sophie finds in her efforts to find the truth.
The bizarreness of a small-town coupon group suddenly with a corpse at their doorstep unsurprisingly gives rise to its own set of compelling and lovable characters. Harte breathes life into her expertly crafted cast- so much so they could be real people. At the end of the book, I felt like I had been living in the tight-knit community of Jefferson Grove- like I could go to the infamous Booty Burgo and pound a few drinks with Junior Junior Mason, the resident landscaper, or peruse the local fair to have a bite of Aunt Rose’s acclaimed huckleberry pie. Having such a vivid set of potential players to the murderous scheme makes the mystery all the more juicier as you try to figure out who on earth killed Marla and for what possible reason.
The highlight of the book, however, is our resident town sleuth Sophie Parker, who often somehow unwittingly finds herself embroiled in deadly plots such as this one. A quick, sharp and bright young woman, Sophie’s endeavours to uncover the next clue is a delight to read about and a sense of camaraderie arises when you learn new things in tandem with her. Beyond her search for answers however, getting to track Sophie’s development throughout the story is a boon. As trickles of her past are revealed as the story progresses, her actions in the present are coloured by this context and readers are given a greater appreciation when she manages to break free of the shackles binding her. Whether it be in regards to her sweet relationship with AJ ‘Flyboy’ Devlin or her tumultuous rivalry with Vivie Danner, the strides Sophie makes to step out of the shadow of her family’s reputation is worth it alone to pick this story up.
All-in-all if you’re in the mood for a captivating spin on a murder mystery that’s set against a bizarre but welcoming backdrop of a coupon-group of all things, then Harte’s ‘Death of a Coupon Queen’ will satiate this desire and then some.