by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of Gretchen Archer’s new book and an interesting interview with Gretchen. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a signed copy of Double Dog Dare. There is also a link to purchase it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL
Double Dog Dare: A Davis Way Crime Caper By Gretchen Archer
Review by Cynthia Chow
As a spy and elite security agent for the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, Davis Way Cole has prevented and outsmarted an endless number of schemes to steal and scam not just the casino, but thousands of its guests. When the attack comes towards her family though, Davis finds herself at wit’s end and without her usual resources at hand. Looking forward to a long-overdue visit from her sister, Davis instead meets Meredith’s best friend Vreeland Howard, who has the continuous verbal stream-of-consciousness of a crack addict with ADHD. She is soon followed not just by a ransom call demanding a million dollars for Meredith’s safe return, but by Bootsy Howard, Vree’s sort-of mother-in-law whom all of their hometown of Pine Apple believes to be a witch.
With Bootsy squatting in a resort room until they fork over the money, Davis must scramble in order to hide the kidnapping from her by-the-book husband Bradley, an attorney and the Bellissimo CEO. That’s not going to be easy as Davis juggles her duties as a body-double for the casino owner Bianca, who uses Davis for all public appearances, including that as a judge for the Southern Canine Association dog show. Missing dogs, destructive lottery winners, corpse moving, and five days to find a million dollars will have Davis ready to mow down anyone in her way, especially if that makes Vree finally stop talking.
When a series bills itself as “A Davis Way Crime Caper,” one should expect a novel that involves a good amount of scheming and nimble plot shenanigans. This seventh in the series exceeds all expectations by delivering so many twists and turns, nimbly tying together elements into an absolutely delightful conclusion. My fears that Davis would be bulldozed and outmaneuvered were quickly put to rest as she marshaled her forces, namely Fantasy Erb, an Amazon with flexible morality and terror of the witch being housed in her husband’s den. One can only imagine the joy the author had in crafting the tangents of Vree’s mind-numbing monologues, which are as hilarious as they are exhausting. What proves to be both unexpected and outstanding are developments that reveal the complexities of characters that make even the most unlikable characters ultimately sympathetic. One should only expect to be surprised by skillful plot twists that fill this seventh of the series, which remains as fresh and delightful as the first. Davis continues to shine with her intelligence, loyalty to her family, and extraordinary sense of humor, and she is given an outstanding supporting cast to match.
Check out other Henery Press mysteries on their website.
Interview with Gretchen Archer:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Gretchen: When my youngest started Kindergarten, afraid my husband would want me to go back to work, I weaseled a deal with him to stay home and write the Great American Novel. Six years later, Double Whammy was released. I abandoned the Great American Novel idea, trading it for Southern Crime Capers.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?
Gretchen: Double Whammy released in May of 2013. The first in my series, unemployed and down-on-her-luck Davis Way trades Pine Apple, Alabama for Biloxi, Mississippi, where she joins an elite security team at a posh casino.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?
Gretchen: I’m mysteries, particularly humorous mysteries, all the way. They’re my favorites to read and write.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.
Gretchen: I chose a Southern casino setting for my cozy mystery series because I don’t knit, don’t have cats, and don’t bake cupcakes except for birthdays.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Gretchen: While I do write to entertain (myself), every book in my series has an unwritten theme running through. With Double Dog Dare, it was help. I kept a tiny Post-it note in the corner of my computer screen while writing “”, on it, with the word HELP. Everyone in “Dog” is helping someone else. Double Up, the title before Dog, was about friendship, the value of old, new, and repurposed friendships. The theme of the book I’m writing now is survival.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Gretchen: I have the worst schedule in the world. I hit my desk at four every morning. Seven full-length books and two short stories in, I spend way more of my day running the business of writing than actually writing. So hitting my desk dark and early to write is almost a necessity at this point.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Gretchen: I start a new book knowing the general theme, the beginning, the middle, and the end. When I try outlining (because it’s a really good idea), I don’t make it past II.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Gretchen: I love writing dark and early. The phone doesn’t ring. No email hits my inbox. Social Media is asleep. I write more between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. in the morning than I could ever write any other time of day.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Gretchen: Four-hundred and eighty-seven rejection letters. My family moved last year, three streets over (might as well have been three states), and I finally tossed the rejection letters. That’s how long ago it was; rejections were delivered by the mail carrier. In all fairness, the rejections were for four women’s fiction manuscripts I wrote before Double Whammy. I call those my learning-curve books. When I opened the document that would four months later be Double Whammy, I queried my top 10 dream agents, signing with my fabulous agent within a week. Moral of that story: four-hundred and eighty-seven rejections later, it happened in a flash.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Gretchen: Well, once I was slicing a cantaloupe, my son was watching SpongeBob Squarepants, the phone rang, and it was Molly Friedrich. That was exciting. She didn’t call to offer representation, but something about my query made her call to offer me a bit of advice. Her advice? I was writing the wrong thing. (She was so right.)
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Gretchen: Once my friend Carol Duckett came to a Barnes & Noble signing wearing a red swimsuit.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Gretchen: I’m not finished writing Davis just yet, but I have another series on the back burner with two of the same elements: Southern and casino.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Gretchen: Janet Evanovich, Carl Hiaasen, and Lawrence Sanders.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Gretchen: The very best kind! I take casino vacations!
KRL: What do you read?
Gretchen: Reading widely, and sleep, are the biggest sacrifices I’ve made to be a published author. I read more within my own publishing house than anything else, because friends, and save NYT big hits for the beach. Still, though, I’ll accidentally pick up something new-to-me and get lost in it. The last time that happened it was Stephanie Bond’s Coma Girl. LOVED it!
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Gretchen: Crime Drama. All shapes and sizes.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Gretchen: The difference in a good book and a great book is editing. Find the best developmental editor you can, then find the best line editor you can.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Gretchen: I love my job.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Gretchen: I have a tattoo.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win a signed copy of Double Dog Dare, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “dare,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 5, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways.
Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:
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