Series: A Kay Driscoll Mystery #1
Published by MuseItUp Publishing on January 1st 2014
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.
It’s the Halloween Ball, and Kay Driscoll lets curiosity get the best of her when she hears a noise in a vacant shop. Seeing something sinister which she can’t ignore, Kay gets dragged into a secret conspiracy involving multiple murders. Will she be able to figure out who is involved, or will she be silenced like the others?
When a book promises a conspiracy, I want to be shocked and left doubting everything I thought I knew. Unfortunately, Bernhardt fails to give me that paranoid feeling I craved, and instead waits until the end to throw all of the information at me. The rest of the novel meanders through painful dialogue and some slow, fluffy moments that get old fast.
I started out this book very hopeful. The conspiracy seemed intriguing and Kay seemed like she was going to get into all sorts of trouble while she was investigating. The relationship between her and her husband was cute and fluffy, which would have been a good compliment to the dark mood of Halloween in the background. The hope quickly dwindled as I realized that I was never going to really know much about the conspiracy itself, and Kay began to turn into a selfish, impatient woman.
What irked me most about her was that she seemed to not support her husband when it came to his passion of playing in a jazz band and building guitars. Any time he talked to her about the craft, she basically gave him the cold shoulder and acted like he was rude for even thinking she would be interested in the discussion. When he has to go to school to do anything, she acts like he is ignoring her and complains. Yet she gets upset whenever he mentions that he doesn’t like her being involved in an investigation that has resulted in several deaths. I’m wondering if this is a setup for them to divorce further along in the series, but it gets tiresome to read about a one-sided relationship issue after a while.
While the mystery was interesting and the stakes seemed high, it got overdone fast. View Spoiler »Kay has a friend in the FBI whom she calls for assistance after realizing the police might be corrupt. But even after she does this, and I’m placing the emphasis on her actually requesting the help of the FBI, she fails to turn over key evidence. It’s almost as if she thinks, at that point, that she can do an investigation better than the FBI. I just am confused, because there is this false tension created between her and the FBI agents, when she was the one requesting them. Had she simply handed over the evidence, while it may not have been a grand ending, it would have been a better representation of her character. « Hide Spoiler
The murderers and the motive never really made sense to me. As we learn the motive, it just falls flat to me, and I don’t see why it was worth killing over in the beginning. Sure, after the first death you might as well eliminate witnesses, but I don’t see why the first few deaths were even necessary. If something had changed in the ginseng, I don’t know how anyone would ever know who did it or why.
It was a relatively boring novel, with dialogue-driven action and flat characters. I wouldn’t read anymore in this series, unless I wanted another holiday-centric book and had no other choices.