Review Of The Ginseng Conspiracy

The Ginseng Conspiracy

A Kay Driscoll Mystery, Book #1

Susan Bernhardt

5 Stars 


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 judgement, 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. (Goodreads)


When Kay Driscoll is heading to The Halloween Ball, she notices some people wearing hooded robes and wonders why they are wearing them.  She decides to follow them into an abandoned building, wondering if they are having a pre-Ball party.  What she sees makes her realize that the only type of party this may be is a “killer” party.  When she is almost discovered,  she runs away and narrowly escapes getting caught.  She does not know what to make of what she witnessed, and after she finds a dead body with her two best friends, she knows there is a murder to be solved.  The death is ruled an accidental drowning, but Kay knows better.  Kay and her two friends, Deirdre and Elizabeth, begin their own investigation into the murder.  When more dead bodies turn up, they know that they must be very careful before they end up deceased as well.

There is so much that I like about this book.  I think that the characters are well developed, well rounded and three dimensional.  I really enjoy the fact that Kay is an older woman with a family.  So many of the cozies I read have younger main characters and many do not have families.  Although the characters in these books are still relatable to me, Kay and her friends seem even more realistic and very engaging.  Her friends have quirky personalities and the three of them together meshed perfectly.  Kay’s husband seemed a little clueless most of the time but you could tell that he loves Kay.  I feel like they are friends I have known for a long time and I was catching up on their lives.  I think the author did a great job with these characters, especially since this is the first book in the series and I just met them.

The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read.  The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and I felt like I was right there watching all the action, instead of just reading about it.  The descriptions of the food, the Masquerade Ball and the setting in general are well done and never became repetitive or boring.

The mystery is carried on well throughout the book.  There are enough twists and turns to keep Kay and the reader guessing the whole time.  There is plenty of suspense and tension and I could not turn the pages fast enough.  There are a few times where my jaw dropped open while reading and I did not want to turn the page because I was worried about what was about to happen.  I think the ending is much more realistic than many other cozies I have read.  A lot of the time, the protagonist puts herself in grave danger at the end and someone else needs to rescue her.  That was not necessarily the case with this book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well plotted cozy mystery.  The second book, Murder Under The Tree, has already been released.  Do yourself a favor and grab both of these books and enjoy.  You will be happy that you did.