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Think you want to be the perfect mom? Think again…..
Kate Alger has finally found the cure for her post-partum depression. After years of suffering, all it takes to bring this mommy back to life were a few gruesome homicides! When someone starts offing the alpha-moms from Kate’s daughter’s preschool, Kate—who worked as an Assistant District Attorney before she had Molly—realizes it’s time to get out of bed, dust off the skills and ...
Think you want to be the perfect mom? Think again…..
Kate Alger has finally found the cure for her post-partum depression. After years of suffering, all it takes to bring this mommy back to life were a few gruesome homicides! When someone starts offing the alpha-moms from Kate’s daughter’s preschool, Kate—who worked as an Assistant District Attorney before she had Molly—realizes it’s time to get out of bed, dust off the skills and find out who is killing all the mommies she loves to hate.
Wickedly funny and slightly twisted, Perfect Is Overrated is a romp through the life of one very needy mom, her cockeyed family, gorgeous ex-husband, and the entire insane, entitled, over-dressed , over-zealous, eternally jealous parent body at The Hawthorne Preschool.
“Perfect is Overrated is such a fast, fizzy, fun read! Buy one for yourself and six more for the other moms in the pickup line, then decide which mom you’d take with you if stuck on a deserted island. For me, she’d have to love mascara and be witty.”—Kelly Killoren Bensimon, author of I Can Make You Hot!
I emerge from my depression the moment I learn of Beverly Hastings’s death. She’s not just dead. She’s been murdered. Someone, apparently, liked her even less than I did.
I get out of bed, where I have been spending way too much time. And alone, at that. I turn the volume up on the television. A reporter is standing outside Beverly’s East Side town house, and cops are everywhere.
“Very little is known about the murder of Beverly Hastings. Police are withholding what appear to be gruesome details.”
Gruesome details. I perk up even more.
“I just feel sorry for the child.” An older woman identified as Sarah, Beverly’s neighbor, is speaking.
I, too, feel sorry for the child, but on the bright side, Bitsy will never again have to wear bloomers.
I unravel my Disney princess comforter—Molly’s actually, as mine has been in the laundry for two months—and start looking for the telephone. I haven’t used it in days, a lingering by-product of my acute, protracted depression. It’s not in the cradle. My apartment, once a masterwork of cleanliness and organization, is now a prime example of college-dorm-style disarray. I straighten Paul’s old NYPD sweatshirt and pick up the jeans that I left on the floor after returning to bed this morning. Then I shuffle from my lightless bedroom into the kitchen, which owes its brightness to the building’s architect rather than to any feat of mine. I realize I’m wearing one sneaker.
After I had returned home from dropping my daughter at school, I’d cleared off the counters, pleased that I had chosen a dark marble to hide the stains and grime. The dishes, Molly’s octopus bowl and cup, to be specific, are still in the sink, and so, apparently, is the phone. Please, battery, don’t be out. I promise to recharge you every day from now on. It works. I dial a number that is more familiar than my home phone.
Voice mail. I could have predicted that. “You’ve reached Detective Paul Alger. Leave a message.”
“Paul, it’s me.” I do my best to sound conversational. Although frankly, mere murder is nothing next to the rage I feel every time I hear the dulcet tones of my ex-husband. “Could you call me when you have a sec? Thanks.”
I put the phone back in its cradle as promised, and it starts to ring.
“Katie, is everything okay?”
“Oh, yeah. Molly’s fine, I’m fine. I should have said it wasn’t an emergency, but do you know anything about this Beverly Hastings murder?”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Then why did you ask?”
“I did it for Molly.”
Slightly energized, I scrub my daughter’s octopus bowl as I talk.
“Molly doesn’t even know Beverly.”
“Not true, they have met a few times. And she does know Bitsy.”
“But they’re not friends.”
“They’re four. At this age, they’re all friends.”
“You know I can’t say anything, Katie.”
“You’re sure you’re okay?” He’s convinced that I’ll never be okay.
“Truly, I am.” Truly I am. In fact, I’m sweeping. “I’ll drop Molly off later.”
He’s trying to be familiar, but I hang up in lieu of partaking in our old routine.
I will never forgive him. He makes my skin crawl. But we share a daughter.
And, he’s gotta know something.
* * *
I met Paul Alger in the Eleventh Precinct when I was an assistant district attorney and he was a homicide detective, first grade. It was Christmastime. I was picking up a file from a junior officer, and I grabbed a chocolate Santa from a bowl on his desk.
“Committing petit larceny in a police station?”
I heard a rich, low voice behind me and turned around. Standing there was the most handsome man I had ever seen—excluding television and movies. He had dark, wavy hair, olive skin, light brown eyes, and a large but lean build. Like in a scene in a Greek tragedy, I heard what sounded like a Delphic voice say, You are going to marry this man.
“Excuse me?” I said to both the man and the crazy voice in my head.
“You are stealing items from that individual’s desk. Technically, that’s a petit larceny.”
“Technically, it’s the holiday season and a dish of candy is everyone’s property.” It didn’t sound convincing, so I added, “There’s legal precedent.”
“Legal precedent, huh?” He winked at me. “I’m giving you a verbal warning now, but if I catch you stealing any more sweets, I’m not going to let you off so easily.”
I smiled. I also perused the room for another bowl of candy before leaving the building.
A few days later, I attended the precinct Christmas party, the kind of social event I typically dreaded. Everybody was either on call and downing Diet Coke, or overdoing it on soured beer and ecru cheese cubes. Inevitably, the holiday colloquy transformed into tales of career conquests. I often ate these up, but that night I found myself looking for something else—namely, the handsome, aggressive cop. Strictly a pantsuit lawyer, I had dusted off a dress that morning, a formfitting, black Tahari number that, along with an impressively high-heeled pair of jet suede sling-backs, gave me the slice of femininity called for under the circumstances.
I had gotten to the party early, careful to stake out a piece of cheddar, a place to stand, and a glass of wine. Detective Ken Sawicki, a stocky, balding cop with big blue eyes and pale, pale skin, offered to get me another drink, but then held it hostage in his drying, fleshy hands until he finished this year’s telling of arresting the mayor’s kid for shoplifting a pack of watermelon Bubblicious. Don’t get me wrong. I love hearing a good war story, especially from a cop, but he could do better than gum.
I nodded politely to Sawicki, attempting telepathically to make him hand over the Sauvignon Blanc.
And then he walked in.
“Alger,” Sawicki screamed to him, lifting his glass as if to toast while mine lay limply in his other hand, “merry, merry. What can I get you?”
“I’ll have what she’s having,” Paul said, taking my glass out of Sawicki’s fingers and handing it to me.
“Minus the story,” I whispered under my breath.
“Paul Alger.” He stuck out his hand.
He was even more alluring than I had remembered, and he clearly hadn’t dolled himself up for the occasion. In a fraying white oxford shirt and khaki pants, he was the best-looking man in the room. I studied him more carefully. Chocolate hair and striking, if asymmetric, cheekbones offset his amber eyes. He wore an expression that suggested an imminent wealth of emotion, which upgraded him from merely attractive to mesmerizing.
“Kate? As in Kiss Me, Kate?” He paused for a second. “I bet you never heard that before.”
“It’s a first from a cop.”
“He’s no ordinary cop,” Sawicki said. “He’s a crime fighter.”
“Do you wear a leotard?” I couldn’t resist.
“Only when I’m working undercover.” Paul Alger was still holding my hand.
“Gotta love Paul,” Sawicki declared.
I already did.
“It would be fun to work together.” I sounded, I’m not proud to admit, like a fourth-grader looking for a school-project buddy.
“My thoughts exactly,” Paul agreed. “Let’s get out of here.”
Copyright © 2012 by Karen Bergreen
Posted July 20, 2012
Karen's writing is conversational, her characters are charming and deep. You get to know Kate really well, and through her all the people in her life. As a person who battles depression, I can say that Karen did a great job capturing the feelings and the actions. While she gets it together to take care of her daughter, she doesn't get it together for much else.
So as she starts coming out of her deep depression, it's funny how Karen throws in a detail here or there about something that was left undone for too long.
And this is a mystery, so you follow Kate as she collects evidence and tries to find out who the murderer is. I will say, you won't see it coming. I had a hard time putting it down, but the last 20 pages had me so griped I ended up letting my children stay up too late just so I could finish it!
You never know if the 2nd book will be just as good as the first, or if a person just had the one good story. I will now say that Karen Bergreen is a favorite author, and this was even BETTER than Following Polly.
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Posted November 22, 2012
Posted November 19, 2012
Posted September 16, 2012
I shall start by saying I thoroughly enjoyed Perfect is Overrated by Karen Bergreen (“comedian, author, stressed-out mom”).
The writing was intelligent, laugh-out-loud funny, and tragic in parts, the murder mystery keeps you guessing. Perfect is Overrated offered something for everyone, which can be a very dangerous venture. Thankfully, with very few bumps in the road, lawyer-cum-comedian-cum-author Ms. Bergreen pulls this off handily. So rather than start this review with a synopsis of narrative, I would like to begin by saying that this book is artfully written and is a very satisfying read. Observations are biting, and other times poignant, always intelligent, and occasionally just downright delightful. Characters range from realistic to archetypical. And that's okay. This book is more than the sum of its parts. Anyone who was expecting a straightforward narrative should read another book.
Okay, now here's the story
We have Kate, lawyer, mother, struggling alternatively with post-partum depression, divorce, and an insatiable curiosity as to who is murdering society mothers whose children attend the same privileged preschool as Kate's daughter Molly. Among the victims: the judgmental and overly solicitous Beverly Hastings whose four-year-old Bitsy “shows a zeal for gouache”, and the animal-hating Phillipa Von Eck (or "Von Ick" as she is often called) among her collection of authentic samurai swords.
As these mothers are being murdered, each in a different fashion, Kate regains interest in life outside her walls. She begins conducting a slow, sometimes paranoid (although one may also argue Kate is excellent at pattern recognition) investigation of her own, sometimes to disastrous and/or humorous effect. Through this investigation the genesis of her depression and subsequent divorce is woven.
We have a delicious distraction named Steve. If nothing else, this micro-fluid studying doctoral candidate currently teaching preschool science at the hallowed halls of the exclusive Hawthorne School is an exquisite diversion for Kate who hasn't had a romp in the hay in quite some time and finally indulges, much to the chagrin of Kate’s omnipresent ex-husband, and homicide detective Paul who is investigating aforementioned murders. Maybe Steve’s the killer, maybe he isn't.
We have wonderfully drawn secondary and tertiary characters ranging from snobbish, potentially homicidal society mothers, to former colleagues, to a best friend Miriam who lovingly donates her size 4 “fat clothes” to our poorly shod protagonist.
These narratives are inextricably woven: Kate's deeply personal journey; the murders; and an occasional and delightful excursus on the Manhattan Über Mom scene. These weighty narratives slide in and out artfully with the comedy, although there are a few moments where they were more a bug than a feature. The humour, the intelligence, and polished prose more than compensate for these ruptures in narrative suture.
I read this book in the way one eats a delicious meal: on the one hand this meal is so good that you devour as quickly as you might, on the other, you wish to slow down and savour so that the meal does not end. I look forward to Ms. Bergreen’s next book.
Posted July 18, 2012
Karen Bergreen's second book is just as good as her first (Following Polly). The characters seem very real to me and the mystery is filled with twists and turns. I love the Stephanie Plum type and this book is BETTER than that and so very well written. I'd recommend it for anyone who is looking for a fun, interesting read. I really can't wait for her next book . . .and this one just came out.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.