Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley Prime Crime/mystery, fiction
Release Date: November 1995
China discovers that business can be murder when her accountant, Rosemary Robbins, is killed. With an abusive ex-husband and plenty of former clients in the picture, there’s no shortage of supspects. And China must trace a crooked trail of passion and greed to discover who would profit most from murder…
This is the fourth book in Susan Wittig Albert’s popular China Bayles Mysteries, featuring an ex-lawyer turned herb shop owner who always seems to be in the middle of a mystery. The books are very much in the same vein as Goldy Culinary Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries and Cupcake Bakery Mysteries; the stories are sprinkled with folklore and tips for growing and using herbs.
I have found this to be a very enjoyable series, partially because of the setting in the Texas Hill Country. Albert’s descriptions of central Texas are spot on- right down to businesses closing when the air conditioning is broken and hippies roaming unfettered. (That last comment is firmly tongue in cheek- I adore central Texas and pledge to Keep Austin Weird.)
This particular book is probably my least favorite of the series. China spends a lot of time consulting the spirit world and being a simpering hand wringer. I prefer the “Forgiveness is easier to ask for than Permission” China. She could have solved the mystery much more quickly if she had not spent so much time whining about her boyfriend and his young son.
My verdict: Read it. Even though this is one of the weaker books in the series, it is still a treat for fans of the genre. Make sure to enjoy at least a portion of the book in an Herbal Bath.