Featured: Murder by Fireworks by Susan Bernhardt

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Review: While Reading any of Susan Bernhardt’s books you’ll find yourself engrossed in a good mystery and you won’t want to stop it reading until the mystery solved.

Wedding bells are in the air, and so is murder.

Kay Driscoll’s son’s wedding reception for two hundred guests is in her backyard.

As if that wasn’t enough, a precocious and troubled twelve-year-old is foisted on her two days before the wedding.

When the happy day arrives, one of the guests disrupts the event and is asked to leave: a womanizing member of Kay’s book club.

A few days later, after a Fourth of July fireworks show, he is found dead on the beach.

Kay and her ever-present friends, Elizabeth and Deirdre, investigate the death, which at first is declared a suicide.

They believe this is a cover-up and go about to prove their theory, an arduous task because the potential suspects are many, and few (if any) will regret the victim’s death.

Susan Bernhardt

Meet Susan Bernhardt:

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, Susan is a retired nurse who volunteers at her local free clinic. She also writes the Irina Curtius mysteries. 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), Dress to Kill (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), Paradise Can Be Murder (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 4), Murder Misunderstood (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 5). 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.

The Kay Driscoll Mysteries – Cozies For All Seasons

“As a rule, Cozies revolve around multiple murders in a small community, a likable amateur sleuth, and often food. In the Kay Driscoll series, 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.

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.

Bernhardt 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!”

Review by Doward Wilson:

Complex characters mix with even more complex motives for murder! Kay Driscoll and her husband Phil recently retired to Sudbury Falls, Wisconsin. She is preparing for their son’s wedding reception that they are hosting in their backyard when Phil drops a bombshell.

They have to care for his cousin’s twelve year old daughter who is arriving now. After a rough start with their unexpected guest, things are flowing along until an obnoxious and womanizing friend causes a scene at the reception.

A few days later following a Fourth of July fireworks display, his body is found in the nearby dunes. The police say it is suicide but Kay is convinced otherwise. Determined to find the truth, she and her two closest friends Elizabeth and Deirdre follow up with the man’s many conquests and their jealous husbands.

This series has much more depth in both the characters and murder plots than some of the lighter cozies but it just adds to the enjoyable read. Kay and Phil’s relationship is one of the most believable that I have ever read.

Their words and actions will give you a smile and make you laugh. This is a series that both cozy and traditional mystery readers will enjoy.

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