Posted By Susan Bernhardt

Shorter days, a chill in the air, hot tea, and the perfect book... The Ginseng Conspiracy - A Halloween-themed mystery - Curl up with a killer.

REVIEW: As a rule, cozies revolve around multiple murders in a small community, a likable amateur sleuth, and often food. In The Ginseng Conspiracy, Bernhardt fulfills our cozy expectations and adds a few refreshing touches. The murders in the fictionalized community of Sudbury Falls multiply at an alarming rate. Kay Driscoll as the sleuth is immensely appealing because, like every character in Bernhardt's book, she's multi-dimensional. She's sweet, tough, vulnerable and reckless in her sense of justice. When Kay's husband begs her to walk away from the investigation because her life is in danger, indomitable Kay refuses to stop. She continues her pursuit of the truth and we root for her every inch of the way, holding our breath whenever she puts herself in harm's way.

The plot, without any spoilers-alert, is as follows. While on her way to a Halloween Ball, Kay Driscoll, former nurse and newcomer to Sudbury Falls, witnesses a murder. When the official report claims the death to be accidental, Kay suspects something is amiss and decides to investigate.

With support from two of her friends (Elizabeth, a liberated woman who's never met a man she didn't like, and Deirdre, the quintessential spiritualist concerned with good karma and a balanced environment with the help of feng shui), Kay throws herself wholeheartedly into uncovering the truth, using Sweet Marissa's Patisserie as headquarters for their crime-solving efforts. As the investigation gets under way, Kay and friends encounter a city-wide corruption involving some of the best families in town as well as government officials.

By featuring Sweet Marissa's Patisserie as Kay's crime-solving headquarters, Bernhardt does more than continue a tradition of presenting some of the action in a cozy around the consumption of food. She turns the locale in its mouth-watering splendor into another character in the story. Bernhardt shows great expertise not only in her characterizations and descriptions but also in maintaining tension in dialogues and keeping the tension strong from one scene to the next.

In The Ginseng Conspiracy, Bernhardt shows she has mastered the art of the cozy, providing plenty of red herrings and plot twists to keep our interest throughout. For this reader, a refreshing and most welcome touch was Bernhardt's use of art and music in the narrative. During a visit Kay pays to a local museum, the author's adroit pen turns us into museum goers looking over Kay's shoulders as she views the works of the masters. With equal expertise, Bernhardt drops us into the audience when Kay attends a music gig by her husband's band; the music resonates through and off the pages.

With such a successful foray into the genre, one can only expect many more Kay Driscoll adventures by Susan Bernhardt in the future. Bravo, Bernhardt. Long live cozies!

4 Comment(s):
Susan Bernhardt said...
Thank you, Lorenzo. :)
October 7, 2014 11:21:09
Lorenzo said...
I must say this is a masterful review.
October 5, 2014 09:34:16
Susan Bernhardt said...
Thanks, Mary. Murder Under the Tree will be published in November.
October 2, 2014 07:42:04
Mary said...
Congratulations Susan on your success! I loved the Ginseng Conspiracy. Waiting for your next mystery.
October 2, 2014 07:19:28
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Susan Bernhardt


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