Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Ginseng Conspiracy by Susan Bernhardt @SusanBernhardt1 #CozyMystery, #GeneManipulation, #Suspense

The Plot:

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.

About the Author:

Susan’s town in northern Wisconsin was an inspiration for the quaint setting of her Kay Driscoll novels. Like Kay Driscoll in her cozy mysteries, The Ginseng Conspiracy and Murder Under the Tree, 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. and the Wisconsin Writers Association. Her published works include: A Manhattan Murder Mystery: An Irina Curtius Mystery, The Ginseng Conspiracy (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 1), Murder Under the Tree (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 2), Murder by Fireworks (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 3), “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.


I really wanted to enjoy The Ginseng Conspiracy, and for the most part, I did. However, it needed better editing. Maybe I missed something at the beginning, but there were times when I couldn’t figure out where characters came from or who lived where. One major example is Margaret. The book begins with Kay Driscoll going out walking with her two best friends. Elizabeth and Diedre. She describes them in detail, and says Diedre lives next door. When she gets home, Margaret calls and they agree to meet later at Sweet Marissa’s Patisseri. Who the heck is Margaret, and why is Kay meeting her? There’s no explanation.

Later, Ms. Driscoll says someone lives “two doors down from Elizabeth.” I’m not sure if she’d yet mentioned that Elizabeth was across the street from Kay, but I was totally confused about where this person lived. I may have been confusing Elizabeth’s house with Diedre’s, because people already lived two doors down from her, and I wondered how these characters could live in the same house. I don’t usually miss details like “Diedre lives next door, and Elizabeth’s across the street.” But at least if you’re going to start a book with a page or two of info dump describing your protagonist’s best friends, you could tell the reader where they both live instead of just one.

The mystery itself was pretty good. There were several people involved in the murder, and while I was able to identify a few obvious perps at the very beginning, a few remained mysteries to the end, and there were even a couple of good red-herrings. But with the confusion over people popping out of nowhere and characters all seeming to live in the same house, I found myself backtracking—so it wasn’t the page-burner I’d hoped. Therefore, I’m afraid I’m closing out Roses & Thorns with three roses for The Ginseng Conspiracy.

Warnings:  None
Length: 284 Pages
Print: $10.99
Digital: $3.95

You’ll notice we always include the publisher’s buy link. That’s because authors usually receive 40-50% of the net proceeds from the publisher. Editors and cover artists usually receive about 5%. When you buy a book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or another third-party vendor, they take a hefty cut and the author, editors and cover artists receive their cuts from what is left. So, if a book costs $5.99 at E-Book and you buy from there, the author will receive about $2.40-$2.99. If you buy the book at Amazon, the author will receive about $1.70-$2.10.

Download the file from the publisher onto your computer as you would any other file. I’ve created a folder for books on my computer, with subfolders by source (Marketing for Romance Writers, Net Galley, Authors who find me on Kindle lists, etc.). That way, if there’s a glitch with your Kindle, the books are on your computer. Some publishers send books in all digital formats. If my Kindle breaks and my kids buy me a Nook, I won’t have to replace all of my books. If you have a Kindle and your hubby has a Nook, you won’t have to buy separate copies, so buying directly from the publisher can save you money.

Moving the file from your computer to your e-reader is as easy as transferring any file from your computer to a USB flash drive. Plug the larger USB end of your e-reader charging chord into a USB port on your computer and simply move the file from the folder into which you’ve downloaded the book to Documents/Books directory on your e-reader. You can move the file by highlighting it and dragging it to the documents directory in you Kindle you want to move it to. Or right click on it, and then left click copy or move. Or hit Control/C for copy, Control/X for cut, and Control/V for paste.

Your author will be happy you did when he/she sees his/her royalty statement.

Thanks for visiting. To those of you who have been loyal readers, I’m sorry this is my last post. I simply can’t keep up with this blogsite and my own writing and promotion. Happy reading.


  1. Rochelle, I'm sorry to hear you are closing out the Roses and Thorns site. I like your honest reviews of books. Also I like the advice on buying from the publisher's book store if they have one. I'm afraid I'm guilty of buying from amazon because it is so convenient, but you make a good point to have the files on your own computer. Best wishes in your next endeavor!