Double Wide By Gretchen Archer: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Aug 21, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow
& Gretchen Archer

This week we have a review of the latest mystery from Gretchen Archer, along with an interesting guest post by Gretchen about epistolary novels. Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a signed copy of the book along with some Bellissimo Resort & Casino swag, and a link to order it from Amazon.

Double Wide: A Davis Way Crime Caper Book 10 by Gretchen Archer
Review by Cynthia Chow

As Bellissimo Resort and Casino’s covert security agent and frequent celebrity body double for the self-centered and vain Bianca Sanders, Davis Way Cole often finds herself in absurd and dangerous situations. Being stuffed in a motorhome basement is a first though, especially since she has also been “adultnapped” with her fellow operative Fantasy Erb and an extremely eccentric golf caddy named Mango Matisse. While Davis initially assumes that she has mistakenly been taken in place of the billionaire’s wife Bianca, information arduously pulled from the trivia-spouting Mango quickly proves otherwise. While Davis does not need to know that 70% of the crimes against women are committed by their intimate partners or the number of poisonous snakes in certain countries, tidbits of actual clues seem to be hidden within Mango’s babble. And the longer it seems to be taking Davis’s husband and her trusty agent Baylor to find them, the more Davis and Fantasy are going to more to rely on themselves to escape and track down the scheme’s Mastermind.

This tenth of the series takes the unique step of interspersing Davis’s letters to her husband, written on takeout menus, with emails, memos, and blogs from an assortment of hilarious parties on the women’s trails. Having postponed/cancelled his fifth attempt at a wedding to Davis’s nanny July, Baylor defies Davis’s mandate to never touch her computer, and documents through emails, their attempts to find them. Davis’s husband Bradley single-mindedly focuses on scrambling together the $50 million ransom, while her boss “No Hair” Jeremy Covey seems more likely to crack heads and interrogate later. Surprisingly, it’s Gulf Coast Herald investigative reporter Nelson Miller who may be closest to tracking down the women held on a random island off of Alabama. When Nelson loses his official status as employed reporter, the mantle is taken up by intern Tiffanee Jones, former beauty blogger who writes with a text language and euphemisms that requires translation for anyone over the age of twenty.

Alternating chapters with Davis’s intrepid and very clever strategy to save herself and her best friend Fantasy, keeps the viewpoint as seen by our heroine, who occasionally falters but remains determined to return home to her husband and her children. Bradley’s momster preemptively makes plans to help her son move on with the next wife, while Davis’s ex-ex-husband, of course, has to add to the chaos. The humor and action moves at a fast pace and keeps readers riveted to the page, especially as Davis gets closer to discovering the goal of this extremely complex plan. Taking the characters out of the Bellissimo refreshes the series and takes advantage of the southern coast setting and the quirky personalities who live there. This is an extraordinarily fun and laugh-out-loud mystery that still hits emotional beats and rewarding endpoints for characters. This series remains at the top of my favorites as it never ceases to create flawed individuals who may not always be likable but are always hilarious. Non-stop action, humorous dialogue, money-driven scams, a treasure hunt, and a surfeit of eccentric characters make this another wonderful entry in the Davis Way series.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

The Epistolary Novel
by Gretchen Archer

Have you ever read an epistolary? A story told through correspondence rather than by a narrator? Of the epistolaries I’ve read—comparatively speaking, there aren’t all that many out there. The one that made the biggest impression was A Woman Of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey. With the single exception of A Woman, I’ve never read a book more than once, unlike my oldest daughter Laura, who reads the entire Harry Potter series every year or Margaret Tate, Sandra Bullock’s character in The Proposal, who reads Wuthering Heights every Christmas. But I’ve read A Woman at least a dozen times since stumbling upon it in my early twenties, and I’d happily sit down with it again today. I’ve gifted it to friends so often through the years that once when it temporarily went out of print, I panicked a little. I absolutely loved the epistolary format. I loved piecing Bess Steed Garner’s life together from her letters, starting with her fourth grade spelling bee and ending with her (assumed) death at eighty. There aren’t responses to Bess’s entries. It’s up to the reader to see past the words on the page and reach their own conclusions as to what might be going on behind the scenes. An epistolary is an interactive read, fully engaging the reader, a book in which the reader plays a pivotal role. And right about now, I bet you’re reading past the words on this page to see exactly where I’m headed with this; Double Wide is an epistolary.

Gretchen Archer

Let’s talk pros and cons of an epistolary.

Author pro: it’s challenging to write. Honestly, it felt like putting an 80,000-word puzzle together, but every piece was the same color and shape. The trickiest? Deciding which character would advance the storyline. The hardest part? Holding back. Refraining from letting the characters know too much too soon. It was a delicate balancing act and I loved every minute of it.

Reader pro: it’s challenging to read. The story doesn’t unfold in the usual manner. It inches forward in surprising fits and unexpected bursts from a number of sources, requiring the reader to actively, rather than passively, pick up the clues. Like searching for story treasure.

Author pro: writing from multiple viewpoints. Let’s do some rough math. Before Wide, there were nine books in my series averaging 75,000 words each which means I’ve written roughly 675,000 words from my main character Davis Way’s perspective. That 675,000 views through one camera lens. Never had I ever spread my author wings to other character voices in a complete novel, much less the dozens of voices found in Double Wide.

Reader pro: a direct connection to every character. Within the pages of Double Wide the reader rides shotgun, for better or for worse, with all the contrasting characters. Until Wide, the reader has only been privy to Davis’s observations of the supporting cast and guest stars. In Wide, the reader hears directly from fan-favorites Bea Crawford and Baylor (Just Baylor). Reader feedback to the cameo characters appearing in Wide has been almost unanimous: I loved Nelson; I hated Tiffannie (poor misunderstood Tiffie). (Talk about a writing/reading challenge.)

Do you think you might enjoy an epistolary novel? Try The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, or Double Wide…by me!

To enter to win a signed copy of Double Wide along with some Bellissimo Resort & Casino swag, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “wide,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 28, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

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. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Gretchen Archer is a Tennessee housewife who began writing when her children, seeking higher educations, ran off and left her. She lives on Lookout Mountain with her husband and a misbehaving sheepadoodle named Kevin. Double Wide is the tenth in her Davis Way Crime Caper series.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

37 Comments

  1. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

    Reply
  2. Love to play the slots.
    Have several casinos in our
    area for me to spend my
    money. Sounds like a
    fun read. thanks
    txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Reply
  3. Thank you so much, Cynthia Chow and Kings River Life!

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  4. If anyone can switch gears successfully from her normal by writing a mystery story in the epistolary style it’s Gretchen Archer…she’s a writing genius in engaging her readers and creating a reader’s active investment in the outcome of the story!!

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  5. I loved reading each and every letter, and note written. It brought it all together and wrapped it up. Gretchen definitely has the gift to keep us engaged.

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  6. I loved it! One of my favorite books of all time. So funny!

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  7. I don’t recall reading an epistolary book. Would love to read “Double Wide”.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  8. Love her other books looking forward to this one!

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  9. I can’t wait to see what Davis and company are getting up to next!

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  10. I have read all of Ms. Archer’s books including Double Wide.

    I have enjoyed everyone of them. She has a lot of humor in her books as well as difficulty situations for the characters involved.

    I actually laugh out loud. Davis is a hoot.

    I highly recommend her books.

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  11. I hope you have write another 675,00 words because I have loved reading every one of them. I also love hearing them as I’ve started listening to your books, Amber really brings the characters to life.

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  12. This was such a fun read. Well, actually all of the books in this series are a fun read. But this was a FUN read!

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  13. Wish I did not know this information. Makes me a little hesitant to read. But it’s Davis Way, so of course I will read it!

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  14. Double Wide was such a fun book even with Tiffanee trying to drive me crazy(er). I’m always looking forward to the next book to see what Davis, Fantasy, and the gang get into next.

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  15. Would love to get a copy of this! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

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  16. Absolutely love Davis Way! Laugh out loud read!

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  17. I can’t wait to read this book!!!!! I have so much going on. Stay safe and carry on

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  18. Love Davis Way!

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  19. Really love reading all of the books.

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  20. Love the Davis 2ay series and have read all of them. I hope this series continues for a very long time.

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  21. Loved the book.

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  22. Enjoyed this immensely, I like this writing style!

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  23. Haven’t read this series yet, but the intro you have about the book really caught my attention. Yes Please! I’d like to be entered to win a copy of this book.

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  24. Very interesting!!! Thank you for the chance to win your wonderful giveaway!!!

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  25. I love this series.

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  26. Love this series!! I generally listen to it on audible….so good! Now I’ve gotten my 25 year older son listening too!! Keep them coming.

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  27. After having read Double Wide and also having read the two other Epistolary books mentioned, I’d say the one I enjoyed the most was Double Wide! I’ve loved this series so I’m partial to Davis Way adventures and this one tops off my list!

    I love it when an author is challenged when writing a book as the results are readers who won’t forget this book and how it made them think about the words to solve the clues making this book very memorable and unforgettable in my opinion.

    Thank you Gretchen Archet for this brilliantly written book! It’s my favorite of all!

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  28. I’m new to your books ?. It sounds really interesting and fun to read. Thank you for the chance! Donakutska7@gmail.com

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  29. I love this series! I started reading it before I had a kindle and was delighted to score a bunch at a used book store!

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  30. I have loved every one of the Davis Way books. Looking forward to reading Double Wide!

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  31. Davis and Fantasy always leave me laughing. Then drop in Baylor, her ex ex mother in law, her mom and now her mortar in law Ann…..love it. Great series and I enjoy reading them yearly.

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  32. Thanks so much for the hours of fun you’ve provided through your fun and exciting adventures of Davis Way! I am excited for this next chapter for her! Thanks so much for the great opportunity to win.

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  33. I would love to win a copy!

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  34. This sounds like a fun read and I love the cover.

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  35. We have a winner!

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  36. I thought you were a genius before all those OTHER people thought so — and I have not changed my opinion. You have always written complicated, carefully thought-out books and recently, you’ve been playing for formats. Which I find absolutely delightful. And thank you for the blanket! We really need a new one and it was just the right color, too.

    As I age, I get dizzy over nothing, I’m very careful with new medication. I actually have a bottle of anti-dizzy pills — which both Garry and I use. Garry gets dizzy because of his hearing aids clogging his ears so his gyroscope doesn’t work properly. I’m just one dizzy dame!

    I’d post this whole review and your response. I’m just not sure twitter allows it. But I think I will steal YOUR section and post that! I found it very illuminating.

    Reply

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