TOUR, Guest Post, and Giveaway! A Roux of Revenge, by Connie Archer

April 11, 2014 Soup Lovers Mysteries 34

When a band of travelers arrives in the village of Snowflake, Vermont and a dead stranger is found by the side of the road, the past returns with a vengeance.  Long-kept secrets will be revealed, lost loves will be found and the lives of many in the village will be irrevocably altered. 


Keep reading for my review and a giveaway below Connie’s guest post!

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GUEST POST by Connie Archer, author of A Roux of Revenge 


Special thanks to the Bookwyrm’s Hoard for hosting this stop on my blog tour for A Roux of Revenge, the third book in the soup lover’s mystery series. [LARK: You’re welcome, Connie! It’s my pleasure!]

Cooking the Crimson Fish

Every mystery buff worth his or her “salt,” if you’ll pardon the upcoming pun, knows what a red herring is — a false trail intended to draw a reader to an incorrect conclusion.  That’s part of the game for mystery writers—to create false trails until the true culprit is unmasked at the conclusion of the story.  At which point (we hope) the reader gasps and thinks, I’ve been well and truly fooled.  I thought the culprit who poisoned the tea in the conservatory was Sir So-and-So.  

Herring.


Well, I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I really only recently learned where the phrase came   And there are various theories about its origin:  One is that it originates in the sport of fox hunting in which a dried, smoked fish (not necessarily herring), which has turned red in color (from being smoked), is dragged across the trail of a fox to throw hounds off the scent. Eventually the hounds would learn to follow the original scent and not the fishy smell.  Another theory is that when hunting, early settlers in New England would leave red herring along their trail to confuse wolves who might be after the same food supply.  

Keswick Boxing Day hunt at the Pheasant Inn, 1962 (source: Wikimedia Commons)


Perhaps all these theories about red herrings are only misdirection after all because yet another theory claims the idiom originates from an 1807 article by William Cobbett, a radical journalist.  When a battle was mistakenly reported, Cobbett said he had once used a red herring to confuse hounds in pursuit of a hare, and that the published story was “ . . . a political red-herring; because the next day the scent became as cold as a stone.”  Frankly I don’t really buy this theory.  Cobbett was a journalist, not an outdoorsman.  The practice of dragging stinky fish across trails could not have been something he invented on his own.  

Fox (Vulpes vulpes) at British Wildlife Centre, Surrey. (via Wikimedia Commons)



But back to the writer’s dilemma:  When are red herrings too much?  When are there so many that we risk losing the interest of our readers?  And worst of all, when is the red herring so obvious, our readers know exactly where not to look for the culprit?  It’s a difficult task because it’s almost impossible to evaluate your own work with a clear mind.  After all, you’ve spent months on the story and you can’t possibly view it from a fresh perspective.  And in all fairness to mystery readers, there should be some hint, some well-placed phrase, some clue that might allow the percipient reader to solve the puzzle early on – but not too early.  You don’t want to bore anyone who was nice enough to buy your book, you want them to be entertained.  Best of all, you want them to gasp and say, “I didn’t see that coming!” 

Obviously, I can’t talk about my red herrings in A Roux of Revenge because that would be a stinky fish . . . ooops, I mean a spoiler! 


About the author: Connie Archer is the author of A Spoonful of Murder (Amazon), A Broth of Betrayal (Amazon), and just released, A Roux of Revenge (Amazon). 

You can visit Connie and learn more about her books at:
          Website: www.conniearchermysteries.com
          Facebook: www.facebook.com/ConnieArcherMysteries
          Twitter:  @SnowflakeVT
          Goodreads: Connie Archer (Goodreads Author)


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MY REVIEW:


Connie Archer cooks up a delicious mystery in Roux of Revenge, the third book in the Soup Lover’s Mystery series. Set in a small town in Vermont, the novel features an engaging main character in Lucky Jamieson, the owner of the By the Spoonful Soup Shop, and a cast of interesting — but for the most part blessedly normal — secondary characters.  Archer easily maintains the fine line between the boringly ordinary and the overly charming or eccentric, creating a place and characters that are both entertaining and believable.

The mystery begins when police chief Nate Edgerton arrives at the scene of a single-vehicle accident and finds the driver dead… but not necessarily as a result of the crash. Here’s another way in which Archer sets her novel a little apart from the typical cozy: although amateur sleuth Lucky is the main character, we do see some scenes from the police chief’s perspective, which lends them more immediacy than if the events were related by one character to another. Speaking of which, Nate, an older man, is also unusually forthcoming with both Lucky and her grandfather Jack, telling them more about his ongoing investigation than I think most policemen would. While his openness did stretch my credence a bit (almost the only thing in the novel that did), it’s more than made up for by the lack of either animosity or sexual tension between policeman and amateur sleuth. After a few too many cozies featuring one or other (and sometimes both!) I found the cordial relationship a relief.  And it certainly makes it easier for Lucky to learn some of the pertinent facts. I also appreciate that Nate is not a “stupid cop”; he’s perceptive, canny, and not easily misled.

Another mystery arises around the same time, this one squarely in Lucky’s court. A strange man appears to be stalking her teenage waitress, Janie. As both mysteries escalate, the complications multiply. What secret is Janie’s mother Miriam keeping from her? Who is the dead man, and who is trying to keep Nate from identifying the body? How does any of it relate to the influx of ‘travelers’ working at a nearby harvest festival, or to the insurance investigator who just can’t let go of his only unsolved case?  The escalation of tension is expertly done, and although most mystery aficionados will guess that the two cases are connected, the connections are far from obvious for quite some time.  Ms. Archer employs her red herrings with skill, and isn’t above a spot of clever-but-fair misdirection. I did spot the murderer part-way through, in part because I’m very familiar with mystery conventions, but I could so easily have been wrong.

Lucky’s relationship with her boyfriend Elias, the town’s doctor, was the only place where I felt the novel stumbled even a little. Their relationship had clearly developed in the earlier books, and the inevitable obstacle which cropped up in this book, while it reveals a lot about Lucky’s insecurities, was a trifle obvious and more than a bit cliched. It also tripped my “why don’t they just talk to each other” button – though to Archer’s credit, avoiding the issue in question is consistent with both their personalities.

That small quibble aside, however, A Roux of Revenge is a well-plotted and solidly-written mystery, as flavorful and satisfying as the unique and hearty soups served at By the Spoonful.  (You’ll find some recipes in the back, by the way. The Pumpkin Rice soup sounds delicious!) I’m delighted to have discovered this series, and I can’t wait to catch up on the first two books, A Spoonful of Murder and A Broth of Betrayal.

Final note: It’s worth checking out Connie’s website, where she has photos of small-town Vermont, a map of Snowflake, character descriptions, and a very up-to-date News page listing recent blog appearances, and her author bio.

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Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads links: A Spoonful of MurderA Broth of BetrayalA Roux of Revenge

Category: Cozy mystery
Series: Soup Lover’s Mystery #3
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin/Random House)
Release date: April 1, 2014

Book source:  I received an ARC from the publisher as part of this blog tour.


WIN a copy of Roux of Revenge!

Win a paperback copy of Roux of Revenge. (I’m sorry, but US residents only, please. The publisher requests no P.O. boxes.)

http://socratesbookreviews.blogspot.com/2013/11/cruisin-thru-cozies-reading-challenge.html


34 Responses to “TOUR, Guest Post, and Giveaway! A Roux of Revenge, by Connie Archer”

  1. Sandy Cody

    Interesting info – and very cleverly told. It was fun to read and made me want to read your mysteries. Good job.

  2. Player X

    I agree that the Red Herring idea requires difficult judgment. As a reader, I don’t want tricks that fool me, I want to simply have parallel possibilities to confuse me. Your ability to maintain multiple possible outcomes very deep into the story is a great talent. I remember very clearly being within 20 pages of the end in Roux of Revenge and saying to myself, ‘I still have no idea who did it.”

  3. petite

    A thought provoking feature. This mystery is captivating. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  4. Jan @ Notes from a Readerholic

    Great review, Lark! I haven’t read any books in this series, but it sounds good and I like mysteries like this so I will have to give the series a try. I’m in the mood for some mysteries these days.

    I enjoyed your article about red herrings, too, Connie. I think it must be difficult to set up, but so much fun when done well.

    • Connie Archer

      Hi Jan ~ Glad you could stop by today. I love mysteries that give me a tiny, tiny clue in the beginning too (as long as I’m paying attention). If I miss it, I kick myself for not spotting it sooner. Good luck with the giveaway!

    • Connie Archer

      Hi Ronna ~ Autumn is probably my favorite season, but I’m working on one right now that’s set in spring. I”m finally in line with the seasons! Good luck with the giveaway!

  5. kimbacaffeinate

    What an interesting guest post, and I am very good at picking up subtle clues and lovewhen a author is able to fool me..provided it isn’t a too far fetched ending.Great review Lark..and yes communication is the key to happiness.

    • Connie Archer

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m checking back at all my blog stops today. I hope you have a chance to guess the real culprit! Best of luck in the giveaway!

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      This ending wasn’t at all far-fetched; it worked beautifully, and Connie does a great job with the subtle clues and red herrings. Glad you enjoyed the review and guest post, Kimba, and I hope you get a chance to read the book!

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Ann, I see you write cozies as well! Your Lowenna series intrigues me; I love British cozies and Cornwall is such a lovely part of Great Britain.

      Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you get a chance to read Connie’s books. I think they’re wonderful!

  6. Kim

    I never thought about where the term “red herring” came from. But I will admit, my husband has listened to me. He now is able to figure out before hand who the killer is in shows like Castle and NCIS. I mean, the true criminal is always revealed early on.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      That’s often true. Agatha Christie was really good at hiding the murderer while still giving clues to his/her identity. So were Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. I cut my mystery teeth on those Golden Age British writers, so I’ve gotten reasonably good as spotting the murderer, or at least narrowing it down to a few suspects. But I love it when an author can fool me with a red herring!

  7. Anonymous

    Marguerite B
    My son lives in Vermont. Can’t wait to read Connie Archer