The Ginseng Conspiracy
By Susan Bernhardt
About the Book:On her way to attend a Halloween Ball, Kay Driscoll, a newcomer to town, witnesses the murder of a local professor. When the official coroner's report rules the cause of death to be accidental and the community accepts the judgment, Kay decides to uncover the truth for herself. Through her personal investigations, Kay exposes a complex conspiracy, woven deep within the thriving local ginseng industry, that involves some of the more prominent figures and families of Sudbury Falls.
With her new friends, the free-spirited herbalist Deirdre and the untamed modern woman Elizabeth, Kay discusses new clues over tea and pastries at Sweet Marissa's Patisserie, their crime-fighting headquarters. As Kay gets closer to the heart of the conspiracy, additional murders happen in quick succession. Before long, Kay learns that the villains are gunning for her, too. Phil, her musically talented but preoccupied husband, determined to keep her safe, withholds from her the one thing she needs most: the truth.
I was eager to read and review Bernhardt’s new cozy from my publisher, MuseItUp. The Ginseng Conspiracy is set in the fictional town in Wisconsin near where I set my own—I think I recognized a couple of characters, too. Big Smile.
Unlike the typical cozy, Bernhardt’s story unravels much like Columbo. The crime of murder appears after the stage was set, readers know who dun it, and we follow the amateur sleuth as she and her sidekicks dig up clues. We want to scream “duck” or “don’t go there!” as conspirators lurk around every corner. The bad guys have a few scenes of their own, and there’s something else going on with our sleuth’s marriage that is part sideline and part red herring. The author did leave a surprise suspect which kept me turning pages in a hurry.
Ginseng Conspiracy is a longer mystery, filled with yummy food and lots of descriptions. Mostly told in first person from Kay, the sleuth’s, point of view, the reader will occasionally wander into other character’s perspectives. Kay’s friends are a blast, and the mythical town of Sudbury Falls is a great place to visit. Fun for those who like meatier cozies. Looking forward to more of Kay and her buddies to come! Recipes? Please!
About the Author:
Susan Bernhardt’s town in northern Wisconsin was an inspiration for the quaint setting of her novel. Like Kay Driscoll in her cozy mystery, The Ginseng Conspiracy, Susan is a retired nurse who volunteers at her local free clinic. She lives with her husband, William, and has two sons, Peter and David.
An avid reader of mysteries, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inc. Her other published works include October 31st, Midsummer, and John and Madeline.
When not writing, Susan loves to travel, bicycle, kayak, and create culinary magic in her kitchen. She works in stained-glass, daydreams in her organic garden, stays up late reading mysteries, and eats lots of chocolate.