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  • Albert, Neil
  • Albert, Susan Wittig
  • Allingham, Margery
  • Archer, Jeffrey
  • Atherton, Nancy
  • Aubert, Rosemary
  • Ayres, E.C.
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    $2.66 list($21.95)
    1. Lavender Lies: A China Bayles
    $1.43 list($6.99)
    2. Shall We Tell the President?
    $6.29 $2.40 list($6.99)
    3. Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil (Penguin
    $2.25 list($21.95)
    4. Mistletoe Man (China Bayles Mysteries
    $6.29 $2.75 list($6.99)
    5. Chile Death: A China Bayles Mystery
    $6.29 $3.00 list($6.99)
    6. Thyme of Death: A China Bayles
    $6.29 $3.25 list($6.99)
    7. Witches' Bane
    $6.29 $2.94 list($6.99)
    8. Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday
    $7.89 list($25.00)
    9. Malice Domestic 3 (Malice Domestic
    $6.29 $4.07 list($6.99)
    10. Hangman's Root
    $7.19 $3.20 list($7.99)
    11. Aunt Dimity and the Duke (Penguin
    $6.29 $2.50 list($6.99)
    12. Rueful Death: A China Bayles Mystery
    $6.29 $4.24 list($6.99)
    13. Aunt Dimity Digs in (Aunt Dimity
    $6.99 $2.70
    14. Love Lies Bleeding: A China Bayles
    15. Eye of the Gator (Tony Lowell
    $6.29 $3.45 list($6.99)
    16. Bloodroot
    $5.36 $3.80 list($5.95)
    17. The Tiger in the Smoke
    $7.19 $0.95 list($7.99)
    18. The Eleventh Commandment
    $6.29 $2.75 list($6.99)
    19. Rosemary Remembered

    1. Lavender Lies: A China Bayles Mystery
    by Susan Wittig Albert
    list price: $21.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0425170322
    Catlog: Book (1999-10-01)
    Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
    Sales Rank: 272276
    Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Book Description

    From the national bestselling author of Chile Death--an all-new mystery featuring the herbal wedding of the year!

    Nominated for both Agatha and Anthony Awards, Susan Wittig Albert's bestselling series has taken root with mystery fans who delight in the exploits of lawyer-turned-herbalist China Bayles. Now, as China prepares for her upcoming nuptials, the only cold feet threatening the wedding are those of a corpse...

    A bushel of praise for the China Bayles herbal mysteries:

    "Warm, appealing series that just keeps getting better."--Booklist

    "Albert's characters are as real and as quirky as your next-door neighbor."--Raleigh News & Observer

    "A treat for gardeners who like to relax with an absorbing mystery."--North American Gardener

    "One of the best-written and well-plotted mysteries I've read in a long time."--Los Angeles Times

    * Prime Crime's fastest-growing series--titles include Chile Death, Love Lies Bleeding, Rueful Death, Rosemary Remembered, Thyme of Death, Witch's Bane, and Hangman's Root
    * Chock full of herbal lore, customs, and facts (lavender is a traditional wedding herb)
    ... Read more

    Reviews (8)

    5-0 out of 5 stars China's back -- in more ways than one!
    LAVENDER LIES is about the eighth China Bayles novel. Albert is SUCH a good writer, her books are a true pleasure to read -- and hard to put down. This one may be the most fun so far, as the wacky women work together to solve the multi-layered mystery while China and McQuaid prepare for their possibly doomed wedding. I look forward to my visits to Pecan Springs, Texas. And I appreciate her little herb-related quotes, myths, and recipes. I've never actually made anything from a recipe in these books, but I must say Ruby's Lemonade with Lavender and Rosemary sounds like heaven on earth. And what my objection was in the last book was that McQuaid did all the work and called all the shots -- this time the very competent ladies -- with China back in charge -- do it all. And it's a lot of fun.

    3-0 out of 5 stars getting predictable
    Susan Wittig Albert's mystery novels are still enjoyable, but I'm beginning to figure out the "pattern" behind them. At the risk of committing a **SPOILER**, it seems that there is always one character who doesn't seem to have any reason to be in the book, just sort of shoehorned in, and that person always turns out to have done it. I hope the next few novels contain more twists.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The Best For Awhile!!
    This is a good China Bayles mystery. I was a little disillusioned after the previous two in the series, but this is a great one. I really enjoyed the story, and the wedding sideline was a great one. China is her usual rushed self in this story, and she's trying hard to concentrate only on her upcoming nuptials, but gets involved in spite of herself with another murder. This murder is of a citizen of Pecan Springs, who no one will really miss that much (except his wife). He's a sharpy, and he gets cut on his own misdeeds. The story moves along swiftly, and we see China trying to get wedding plans in amongst murders, hurricanes and faled wedding cakes. It's great. Read this for a whomping good ride.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I want to be China Bayles!!!
    This is my first China Bayles mystery and I'm hopelessly hooked! China has my dream life: the herb shop, Thyme and Season; the tea room, Thyme for Tea; the sideline job of writing a gardening column for the local newspaper; not to mention the young hunk, Mike McQuaid!!! I think I better go back to the beginning, though, and work my way through the entire series. I love the herbal lore and recipes that begin each chapter as I have my own herb gardens. I didn't think China and McQuaid would EVER make it to the alter, but thankfully, they did in spite of murder, mayhem and a hurricane! Ms. Albert is a primo mystery writer and kept me guessing right up to the end. China's friends, Ruby, Smart Cookie, The Whiz, et al are icing on the cake of the plot, especially Ruby with her new age shop and flamboyant outfits. I highly recommend this book, especially if you're into herbs and love a good, fast-paced, well-written mystery!

    2-0 out of 5 stars Abridged Audio Annoying
    I'm a fan of China Bayles, but wouldn't be if my first exposure had been this abridged audio (Reader's Disgust version). Read by the author, who has entirely the wrong accent - more midwestern or simply generic, it starts out okay, but then becomes hurried, flat and deadpan. The story itself suffers mightly from the abridgement. A cozy needs the subplots and red herrings, but they were so numerous in this abridgement that it quickly became confusiong and rather non-sensical. I missed the little bits of herbal trivia I've come to expect, the richness of the characters was lacking, and generally I would have to say this audio is a mistake. Take a pass, and read the book. ... Read more

    2. Shall We Tell the President?
    by Jeffrey Archer
    list price: $6.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0061013706
    Catlog: Book (1999-03-01)
    Publisher: HarperTorch
    Sales Rank: 344176
    Average Customer Review: 4.45 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    What the President Doesn't Know May Kill Her

    After decades of struggle, sacrifice, and personal tragedy, Florentyna Kane has finally attained her goal--the presidency of the United States. Yet even as she gives her inaugural speech, those who oppose her are plotting to silence her forever.

    Only one man knows when the assassins will strike, and even he doesn't know where, how, or most importantly, who they are. He has only six days to track down the senator at the heart of the cold-blooded conspiracy. Six days in which he can waste no time, leave no trail, and trust no one. One wrong word, one false move, and both a nation and a dream will crumble.

    Master storyteller Jeffrey Archer keeps the pace sizzling in this daring political thriller where treason and betrayal threaten to topple an American dynasty. ... Read more

    Reviews (22)

    5-0 out of 5 stars What Goes On in The Senate and The FBI
    While Jeffrey Archer's previous 2 books, "Kane & Abel," and "The Prodigal Daughter," are are romance, politics, business, and a blend of history, with creativity, "Shall We Tell the President," is a blend of politics and law enforcement on a level that most of us probably haven't considered is possible.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, because Mr. Archer, being a master at his craft, created so many word pictures that you become part of the story.

    Watching Senate hearings, as a result of reading this book, I have more questions in mind.

    There are many surprizes, especially in the last 50 pages. And there are some speeches in this story that provide the readers with a great deal to think about, in terms of homeland security.

    It's a fast read -- not too heavy, yet this book will stretch your mind, as a good book should.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Solid political intrigue novel...but not with many surprises
    Apparently this is Jeffrey Archer's second published novel. Hard to find these days but, having read most of his other works, I wanted to round out my collection. Obviously, this is a dated novel, taking place just after Ed Kennedy is sworn in as president after Jimmy Carter. It was a rough time in American history, and Archer weaves the mood of the times into this story. The plot revolves around a junior FBI agent's investigation into an assassination attempt against the new president. He juggles a new relationship with the daughter of a senator who just happens to be a prime suspect in the conspiracy. Good reading, even though a thin novel, and not Archer's best. Archer demonstrates his US political expertise here, despite being an Englishman. This novel goes behind the scenes of Washington DC, though not nearly to the extent his later novel, First Among Equals, does in London's Parliament. My only real complaint with the novel is its lack of major plot twists which I've come to expect from Archer's works. Pretty straight forward story. If you enjoy Archer's works, try to locate a copy of this one too.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Not Archer's best but still a suspenseful enough read
    Sequentially, this book seems to follow Kane and Abel and The Prodigal Daughter. However, it is more a thriller rather than drama as in the other two books. The President is now in danger of being assassinated and things must be done fast. The narrative is pacy and never tedious. Archer's gift of plot and fluent writing keep us turning the pages once again.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Just what you could have expected from Archer
    If you want to read this book you must be one of this three kinds of people:
    1)Archer-nut - a person who reads everything by this author. It's a must for you then, so you must read it anyway. You just should know it's as good as other Archers.
    2)fun of spy and thriller books - you must have read "The Day of the Jackal" and you look for something as exciting. You must be warned, that it's much different. The story is propably similar but Archer - in stead of details - has a much more extended plot. And it's not so serious, so if look for first-hand experience in dealing with assasins it's not suitable for you.
    3)reader of everything - if everything, so why you read it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Another Great Jeffrey Archer Book
    About a young FBI agent who gets involved way over his head. It's another one that you just can't put down, because Archer keeps you wonder just what will happen next! ... Read more

    3. Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil (Penguin Mysteries (Paperback))
    by Nancy Atherton
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0141002190
    Catlog: Book (2001-10-01)
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Sales Rank: 33717
    Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    "A romantic tale with echoes of A. S. Byatt's Possession and enough dreamy and ghostly wish-fulfillment to satisfy readers across several genres." (Booklist

    With rain crashing down on her Range Rover, as it climbs up a steep embankment on the Northumberland moors, Lori Shepherd is beginning to doubt the wisdom of her decision to evaluate a rare book collection at Wyrdhurst Hall.

    The grim, neo-gothic hall that greets her upon arrival is full of surprises-including a charming, secretive stranger, and a cache of World War I letters that tell a tale of doomed love and hint at a hidden treasure. It will take all of Dimity's supernatural skills to help Lori solve the puzzle and restore peace to a family haunted by its tragic past.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (11)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Aunt Dimity books are a surefire good read
    When Lori Shepard leaves her home to evaluate a library in the wilds of the border country, she does so to do a favor for her friend Stan, and to take a little time away from her twin toddlers. She doesn't expect to be influenced by another less friendly ghost. Once again, Aunt Dimity comes to the rescue, but not without alot of plot twists and turns. This is a great book and I recommend it highly.

    5-0 out of 5 stars This author writes a warm mystey that leaves us feeling good
    Expatriate American Lori Shepherd leaves her Cotswold home to drive to Northumberland to evaluate the Wyrdhurst library rare book collection. However, instead of arriving safely at the Hall, a landslide caused by a torrential storm leads to an accident. Writer Adam Chase takes the unconscious Lori to his hovel. When Lori awakens, she feels an attraction to her rescuer that in turn makes her feel guilty since she just left her beloved spouse with their twin toddlers.

    Still, Lori goes about her business and begins to scrutinize the collection. Soon, Lori hears eerie laughter and finds a cache of love letters written by Claire Byrd and W.W.I vet Edward Cresswell, who died in combat. However, an apparent ghost and someone knocking out Adam disturb the serenity of her work. With hints of treasure hidden in the castle, Lori with the help of her spirited Aunt Dimity begins a different type of investigation that could prove dangerous to this amateur sleuth.

    On first glance, AUNT DIMITY BEATS THE DEVIL sounds inane, but talented Nancy Atherton turns the tale into an entertaining otherworldly cozy. The story line is simply fun to read due to the strong support cast enabling the lead couple (Lori and Aunt Dimity) to excel. The "dialogue" between Lori and Aunt Dimity is often humorous, but also retains a seriousness that embellishes the plot. Unlike many English cozies, AUNT DIMITY BEATS THE DEVIL contains plenty of action, but the novel as with the previous five books in this series belongs to its two stars.

    Harriet Klausner

    5-0 out of 5 stars Aunt Dimity is Great
    Just love this series. Read the most recent one and went on Amazon to find all the previous. Fun, relaxing books that you want to curl up in front of the fire and read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Another Winner.
    This series is light and airy, a real pleasure reading. A great difference from the classic English mystery but just as interesting. A great gift for the mystery lover. A wonderful read.

    4-0 out of 5 stars All of the Aunt Dimity series
    I am an expat living in Singapore, also very bored, between the serious reading,"Conversation with God" for example I discovered the Dimity series, have enjoyed it immmensly. A days read which actually relaxes me and takes my mind off other problems.So a big thank you to the author, Can't she write quicker! What am I to do now! ... Read more

    4. Mistletoe Man (China Bayles Mysteries (Hardcover))
    by Susan Wittig Albert
    list price: $21.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0425176738
    Catlog: Book (2000-10-01)
    Publisher: Prime Crime
    Sales Rank: 585238
    Average Customer Review: 4.64 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    China Bayles, a lawyer who's dropped out of practice but hasn't yethanded in her bar card, is back in business at Thyme and Season, her herb shop in Pecan Springs, Texas. The shop is so successful that China and Ruby, a friend with another remarkably successful New Age boutique named Crystal Cave, have added a tea room--named, of course, Thyme for Tea. Pecan Springs is getting to sound a lot like Sausalito, but apparently a lot of tourists pass through the west Texas town on their way to or from the Pecan Pageant, the Herb Fair, and, presumably, other unnamed attractions.

    This ninth China Bayles mystery is a cozy case of confused property lines thatlead a couple of likable people into a confrontation that ends in murder. Unfortunately, the dead man was China's main supplier of the herb of the title,and Christmas is just around the corner. So it behooves China (along with hernew husband, a retired police detective, and her close friends, who all seem tobe in law enforcement) to straighten things out, nail the culprit, and reestablish the mistletoe supply as soon as possible. Which they do, in a whimsical story that's as much about China's strained relationship with Ruby and her new life as a wife and stepmother as it is about who killed the Mistletoe Man. This all-but-bloodless tale is long on charm and local color and short on action. Susan Wittig Albert's quirky characters andtheir customs are on display (like the maiden lady who believes she's beenabducted by aliens) rather than suspense or plot. But Albert's many fans won'tmind a leisurely afternoon with China or the herbal lore that's served up as an appetizer before each chapter. --Jane Adams ... Read more

    Reviews (14)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent.
    I believe MISTLETOE MAN is the 9th in the China Bayles series that began with THYME OF DEATH. This is one of my favorite mystery authors -- she always creates strong charcterization and a good sense of place. By now each visit to Pecan Springs is a real treat for me, like visiting old, loving friends. And loving is really the theme of this tightly woven story. Loving sisters, loving an old "crazy" woman, loving spouses, loving children, loving pets, loving friends, loving life. This is one of the best examples of how the mystery itself is not the most important part of the book. It's the development of the ongoing story of the characters that keeps the series fresh and alive. In this case, a life-threatening illness brings out new feelings and responses in our familiar charcters. A lovely ending. One of the best books in the series so far.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An excellent mystery with something for everyone.
    The China Bayles series offers the best of all worlds for mystery fans. China herself is no nonsense and tough talking (she calls her husband by his last name), with a background in criminal law and a circle of friends that include police chiefs, sheriffs, and Texas Rangers. But she's put the dog-eat-dog business world behind her to run an herb shop in the small Texas town of Pecan Springs, and she's just recently opened a tearoom with her best friend, Ruby.

    With Christmas approaching, business is booming, but then things start to go awry. China's mistletoe supplier, Carl Swenson, turns up dead by the side of the road, the victim of an apparent hit-and-run. The main suspects are Carl's next-door neighbors, the two Fletcher sisters, who happen to be China's good friends. And on top of all that, China's friendship with Ruby is suddenly strained by Ruby's odd behavior and insistence that nothing is wrong.

    This is an interesting mystery, with ample subplots and characters to keep a reader on her toes. China is a complicated character, and her life in Pecan Springs is fun to read about. This is the ninth book in the series (preceded by Lavender Lies), but Albert does an excellent job of making China's recurring involvement with mystery solving plausible. (It's difficult for long-running series to keep their amateur sleuths stumbling over crime in a realistic manner. Most authors don't manage it very well.)

    A thoroughly enjoyable Christmas mystery.

    5-0 out of 5 stars This book made me a fan...
    As a mystery writer myself, I am very picky about the ones that I read--just personal tastes cropping up. This is the first China Bayles book I've read and I really enjoyed it. I have to say, this was the first mystery I've read in several months where I finished it in one day because it pulled me in so quickly. I am on my second China Bayles book now, and plan on reading the whole series. I like the characters, the writing is mature and the book well-written. Very well done.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Layers of intrigue...
    The further journey into the world of China Bayles in this continuation of her series involves the murder of the Mistletoe Man, Carl Swenson. He is found dead in the ditch from a hit and run, in an effort to solve the mystery, China helps the Fletcher Sisters and their beloved Aunt (who believes she was taken aboard a Klingon ship years ago and expects their return shortly) from being sent to prison for something they didn't do, or did they? While China is putting together the clues leading to the murderer, she also is trying to understand why her best friend Ruby has become distant and remote. One of the things I liked best about this book was not the actual murder story (which was very good) but the subplot of Ruby's story. The life of China is rich with multiple layers and the characters continue to grow and have added depth with each story. I think that is what I like best about the China Bayles series, the characters continue to change and grow like all of us.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The death of China's mistletoe supplier opens a can of worms
    China's mistletoe supplier is a surly loner who raises goats in the Texas hills. He is found dead on the side of the road next to his brand new $20,000 truck. There seems to be many more mysteries around this neighborhood other than the identity of the murderer.

    As usual, Ms. Albert writes a really strong mystery with vivid and colorful characters. There is more than one mystery involved as well as China's worry over the strange behavior of her best friend Ruby. Great book, enjoy!!! ... Read more

    5. Chile Death: A China Bayles Mystery
    by Susan Wittig Albert
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0425171477
    Catlog: Book (1999-10-01)
    Publisher: Prime Crime
    Sales Rank: 57648
    Average Customer Review: 4.22 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    She planted the seeds of mystery stardom with her first book, Thyme of Death. She continued growing with such highly-praised follow-ups as Witches' Bane and Love Lies Bleeding. Now Susan Wittig Albert's career blooms with a flourish--with the brand-new offering Chile Death.

    An annual chili cookoff, a womanizing judge, and a crisis in China's personal life add up to a novel that will delight fans of this fast-rising author, a nominee for both the Anthony and Agatha Awards--and attract a whole new audience to this "appealing series that just keeps getting better." (Booklist) ... Read more

    Reviews (18)

    3-0 out of 5 stars China Bayles continues to find trouble.
    And she continues to solve mysteries -- but not by herself. This series, one of my favorites, seems unfortunately to be losing a little of its identity. As the character loses her independence, she's surrendering some of the feistiness that made the series what it is. In this entry, she starts taking direction from her future husband and, as she does so, she's losing me as a devoted fan. The book is also about 50 pages too long; during the long middle section, I kept finding myself setting it down and doing other things, restless for the book to get on with it. I wouldn't say I was really disappointed, because she's a great mystery writer. Rather, the book isn't faithful to what the series started out to be. I can't fault the author for wanting to take the character in a new direction -- it's up to us whether to follow or not. But, darn it, I really enjoyed the first books in the series. I hope the fun comes back in future books in the series.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Attention Chile Heads and Pepper Bellies
    An exceedingly clever Texas cozy mystery, featuring China Bayles, former lawyer turned herb shop owner, in what is about the middle of a series of books by Ms. Albert. The characterization and interaction of characters is exceptionally inspired and the reader really feels she knows these folks before the book is finished - they live and breathe - well, all except the corpse, who doesn't survive the chili tasting contest and who no one is particularly sorry to see go. While the writing is well above competency, the plot does meander quite a bit. The chili / chile trivia throughout the book was interesting enough that the spousal unit took heed, and the recipe for cake with cayenne pepper was also a huge success! I particularly appreciate that not only do I have more China Bayles books to look forward to, but also a very fun website to visit these new old friends. Not only did I learn a lot about herbs and what you can do with them, I'm also learning about chili/chile and thoroughly enjoying the work of an exceedingly talented and smart writer.

    If you like books with recipes, and have exhausted this series, let me suggest and recommend WORLD OF PIES (also set in Texas) and the Dianne Mott Davidson books. And the wilder women out there, might want to try the two Sweet Potato Queen books.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A mystery in every bite...
    Albert's books are great fun to read. I enjoy them so much...she is a more than adequate writer, fairly good at drawing her characters in words, and the plots make good sense (well as far as mysteries go...why do the protagonists insist on going into bad situation by themselves?)

    I knew from the minute that it became obvious there was going to be a 'tasting' that someone was going to get poisoned. It's probably one of the oldest forms of murders there is. Yet, poisoning is not exactly what happened. The murderer took into account the victim's own allergies and used that against him. The victim was one of these annoying insurance guys who use their looks to sell their insurance, as well as use scare tactics to sell to older people. He had plenty of enemies, and China and McQuaid have to sort through an overabundance of information to find the most pertinent info.

    As usual Albert puts in a bit of history, a lot of recipes, and some information on the sad disease that is Alzheimer's.
    A good summer read...

    Karen Sadler

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good Book
    I Love this series. They are easy to read with good characters and an interesting but never too violent mystery.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Satisfying
    This is the first China Bayles novel I have ever read and will be reading more. I liked the Texas setting with a true Texas Chili Cookoff in the Texas Hill Country. The recipes are great. The mystery kept you guessing until the very end. Easy, quick to read and very satisfying.

    Highly recommended. ... Read more

    6. Thyme of Death: A China Bayles Mystery
    by Susan Wittig Albert
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0425140989
    Catlog: Book (1994-03-01)
    Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
    Sales Rank: 71916
    Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Book Description

    Nominated for both an Agatha and an Anthony Award, Susan Wittig Albert's novels featuring ex-lawyer and herb-shop proprietor China Bayles have won acclaim for their rich characterization and witty,suspenseful stories of crime and passion in small-town Texas.

    In her first mystery, China's friend Jo dies of an apparent suicide. China searches behind the quaint façade of Pecan Springs and takes a suspicious look at everyone. Though she finds lots of friendly faces, China is sure that behind one of them hides the heart of a killer.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (17)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, well-written mystery!
    I have to disagree with the fella's review down below me who said that genre novels do not deserve five stars! Hogwash! Shoot, I only review books that deserve five stars. If it's not a good book, why read OR review it? Which leads me to declare my life's motto: So Many Books, So Little Time!

    This first book in the China Bayles series is excellent. I read "Lavender Lies" first and thought I might be disappointed in the first book of the series, but I was proven wrong! We're introduced to all of China's cohorts in Pecan Springs, Texas and get the dirt on everyone. Ms. Albert immediately draws us into solving the murder of China's friend (who has terminal breast cancer) who appears to have comitted suicide. It's a wild plot with suspects galore, but I was totally surprised when the murderer was finally brought to justice by China and Ruby. Good, fast-paced read. I highly recommend it to mystery lovers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Refreshing!!!
    I have loved all of the Susan Wittig Albert books in the China Bayles series: strong women characters, mystery and wonderful sensory experience of description of herbs throughout the book. Another strong focus of the books for me is demonstrating how there could be a peaceful life outside of the chaos of corporate America---something many people dream of!

    4-0 out of 5 stars China Bayles' debut novel
    In China Bayles, Susan Albert has created an independent, likeable character. China becomes a lawyer because she wants to emulate her father but then finds that she does not enjoy the life-style of a big-city attorney. In a complete about-face, she moves to the small town of Pecan Springs, Texas, where she purchases an herb shop. Albert's descriptions of the countryside between Austin and San Antonio, and the kind of people that would inhabit a small Texas town are right on, and they provide a great setting for this series. One of China's friends in Pecan Springs is Jo Gilbert, a woman who is concerned with the environment and who is spearheading a move to prevent the building of a regional airport. When Jo's daughter finds her dead, the police assume that it is a suicide. China cannot believe that her friend would take her own life and she sets out to prove that it is a murder instead. She begins an investigation that leads her to everything from disgruntled developers to lost love. Along the way, she enjoys romance with Professor Mike McQuaid, and introduces us to several of the town's more colorful characters. This is the beginning of a very promising series.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Flawed start to intriguing series..
    Susan Wittig Albert's "Thyme of Death" is the first of the critically acclaimed China Bayles series. Basically, it is good, but it is also quite flawed, so it only gets three stars.(The sequel to this book is better). China, a former lawyer who burned out, is now a herb store owner in Hill Country Texas(an area of Texas north of San Antonio and west of Austin). One of her friend's Jo Gilbert dies in an apparent suicide, but China's best friend, Ruby Wilcox, sees foul play. Soon, China and Rudy find out about the secret life of a popular actress on a children's program(a Barney clone). Murder and theft are committed, and China has to unravel all the lies being told. She solves the mystery, but justice isn't complete, as a murderer is brought to justice, but the evidence of another murder is destroyed.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting characters, good page turning fun/mystery
    As a UT alum (go Horns!), I think that Albert does a good job in defining the atmosphere of the Hill Country in Texas. The characters are likeable and her writing style is easy-to-read, whether it's a long summer day by the beach or a cold winter's day in front of the fireplace. I picked up a few of her books and have just finished the first...and am looking forward to getting to know China Bayles and the other "regulars" better.

    If you're seeking Hemingway or Poe, you won't get it here. But the whodunnit aspect and the few soft twists makes this a very enjoyable read. ... Read more

    7. Witches' Bane
    by Susan Wittig Albert
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0425144062
    Catlog: Book (1994-09-01)
    Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
    Sales Rank: 77068
    Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (6)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Witch hunt in Pecan Springs
    China Bayles has given up the big-city life of a Houston attorney and enjoys running her herb shop in the Hill Country of Texas. She rents half of her building to Ruby Wilcox who runs a New Age shop next door. Ruby starts a Tarot class and is surprised when the two businesses are picketed by a group led by the Reverend Billy Lee Harbuck who accuses them of being witches. Sybil Rand, one of the Tarot class members, decides to have a Halloween party for her friends, and soon she is killed in a ritualistic manner. This give fuel to the anti-satanic crowd and China and Ruby find themselves in the middle of a murder investigation. Police officers decide that Ruby's boyfriend may have committed the murder, so Ruby has an even bigger motivation to find the real killer. Soon another murder takes place, and China begins to make a short list of suspects. Before it's all over, China's life is put in danger. This plot is wound around China's personal life which features a love affair with Mike McQauid, a professor of criminal justice at the local college. As usual, the Hill Country and China's herb garden create an interesting background to the solving of a mystery.

    4-0 out of 5 stars First great China Bayles novel..
    "Witches Bane" is the second China Bayles book, and better than the first. This one takes place about a year after the first book. A firebrand teleevangelist targets Rudy Wilcox as being a witch. China, of course, comes to her friend's defense. But the preacher is the least of their worries. Someone is killing animals for ritual, and soon, a woman is murdered after being sent the "Death" card. Ruby comes under suspiction as her tarot knife was the murder weapon. There are a few suspects, including the woman's husband, a real-estate developer with a cash-flow problem. China and Rudy strive to find the killer, and nearly get killed in the process. The identity of the killer is shocking, and as is the motive. Highly recommended as a good mystery(although it bashes Christianity a little too much)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Another fun read by Albert.
    Once again, China Bayles, herb shop owner/ex-lawyer, finds herself tangled up in a messy murder. Her best friend, Ruby, is accused of being a witch, and an acquaintance of theirs is found murdered. Although China has good intentions and plans to stay out of it, she is drawn in and ends up right in the middle of everything. The characters are fun, some are wacky, but they all serve a purpose in the overall story. I also enjoy the author's in-depth information regarding herbs and their uses, and the insight into the Wiccan religion. The continuing storyline between China and her boyfriend, McQuaid (an ex-cop) also keeps us wondering what is going to happen next.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable Halloween-themed mystery.
    ...The author deftly solves most of the problems with alot of interesting herb lore. The mystery wasn't difficult to figure out, but was well worth reading.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Mystery with an herbal twist
    I had the pleasure of hearing the author speak recently and discuss her mysteries and her vast knowledge of herbs. I'm not the usual mystery fan but I liked this book because it creates interesting characters that are multidimensional and it presents lots of interesting herb lore. You learn from this novel and you also have an interesting ride on the search for a killer. Her details on the modern religion of Wicca are well informed and grounded in reality. I've shared this book with several friends who enjoyed it thoroughly. We are now moving on to her other books with great anticipation. ... Read more

    8. Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday
    by Nancy Atherton
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 014200393X
    Catlog: Book (2004-01-01)
    Publisher: Penguin USA (Paper)
    Sales Rank: 34812
    Average Customer Review: 4.18 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    When Lori Shepherd’s husband, Bill, is summoned to the reading of a will at the resplendent country estate of Earl Elstyn, Lori jumps at the chance to come along. She didn’t expect, however, to find herself entangled in a messy—and dangerous—family dispute. The aristocratic earl has called together the entire Elstyn family to disclose the beneficiaries of his fortune, and all present will be affected. But someone has a grudge against the Elstyns and will stop at nothing for revenge.

    A burning topiary, a suspicious maid, family secrets, and threatening notes lead Lori to seek her phantom Aunt Dimity’s help in identifying the culprit before he or she can torch the whole house—with the guests in it. ... Read more

    Reviews (11)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Aunt Dimity Takes a Nosedive
    I love Aunt Dimity and couldn't wait to read the latest. The size of the volume alone should have been a red flag. The Dimity books have never been what you would consider 'heavy reading' but all were well crafted, with memorable characters and an excellent sense of place. This is all missing. Everyone is a cardboard cutout; I never felt any one of the characters' emotions -and with the issues dealt with in this book, there should have been many strongly felt feelings. Also, pressure from Lori's critics over her flirtatiousness has won out- there is nothing more than a motherly friendship between Lori and Simon, and even that feels shallow. But the worst offense, to me, is at the end when the plump red haired maid becomes the petit gray haired maid.....I was so busy blathering "What...??!!" to myself that the emotional climax evaporated completely. I hope Aunt Dimity's next outing will be more substantial.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The latest Aunt Dimity is as good as the rest
    The Harris family is in turmoil. Everyone understands that Derek is estranged from his father the Earl. When the family is summoned to a family reunion of sorts, Emma finds out that she was never told the whole story. Derek never even told her his real name! Understandably upset and apprehensive about the upcoming visit, she asks Lori Shepherd to come along with her. Lori's husband Bill informs her that he is one of the Earl's lawyers and they were going already. Lori and Emma wonder what other surprises are in store for them, and what secrets of the past will be revealed.

    This is one of my favorite series and I always look forward to the next. Although a little short for my taste, this is a wonderful cozy. Derek's background was always a mystery, and everything is explained in this novel, Nell is featured as usual, and we see a little more of Peter, who has been largely invisible since, Aunt Dimity and the Duke, which is a shame. I read this one in one sitting and plan to reread it soon. It is nice to read something that is not too violent and ends happily once in a while, so I look forward to these books.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Weekend Mystery
    This book is a good mystery. The plot is always complex, but not confusing, and very well written. These stories are perfectly situated in England. The titles of these Aunt Dimity series are a bit misleading. By the title I thought it would be about a little lady who travels and gets involved in little mysteries, like Agatha Christie's Poirot and also her Miss Marple, etc. The stories are about a woman named Lori, who is married to a lawyer husband (who travels a lot) and has two little twin baby boys. In this particular story, she is invited, by her neighbor and friend, Emma, to come with her to meet her husband's wealthy English family (who she doesn't know existed). Her husband is the lawyer for Emma's in-laws, and so Lori is invited and goes with both her friend and her husband. On their arrival a sculpted bush (to look like a turtledove) is in flames. Soon, anonymous poison pen threat notes start arriving to a certain person in the book, and Lori has to figure out who's writing the notes, etc. Aunt Dimity was a rich eclectic woman. She was the best friend of Lori's mother, and having no family of her own to pass on the huge trust fund she had accumulated over the years, she passed it on to Lori when she died, along with her little stone cottage, set in the heart of the English countryside, and a blue bound journal. Through this journal she communicates with Lori, even after her death. This part is kind of strange, though I say it myself, but adds a bit of quirkiness to the book that is charming.This book is a great (shorter) mystery novel, a great way to just cuddle up, read, and relax during the weekend.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Another Great One
    I'm an Atherton fan. Have loved every Aunt Dimity so far. Nancy hit the mark again on this one. Easy read and fun characters. Honestly, I did have some tears at the end.
    Appreciate her development of the characters. Keep up the good work.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best yet.
    I have read all of Aunt Dimity's adventures and have grown fond of these people. The author moves the plot along quickly without treating the clearly drawn characters as puppets. I felt Lori's growing fondness for the people she met and grew to understand them with her. The author is very relationally centered. I don't consider this "light" or fluff. I had tears at the ending. Though I hated for it to end, I couldn't put it down till it did. Hope I don't have to wait too long for the next one. ... Read more

    9. Malice Domestic 3 (Malice Domestic , No 3)
    by Nancy Pickard, Linda Hamilton, D. B. Sweeney, Leslie Mann
    list price: $25.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0787116882
    Catlog: Book (1998-02-01)
    Publisher: Audio Literature
    Sales Rank: 992194
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    10. Hangman's Root
    by Susan Wittig Albert
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 042514898X
    Catlog: Book (1995-08-01)
    Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
    Sales Rank: 147811
    Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (6)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Texas Hill Country mystery
    China Bayles becomes disillusioned with her career as an attorney so she moves to the small town of Pecan Springs in the Texas Hill Country and opens an herb shop. In this third book of the series, China's good friend, Dottie Riddle, a biology professor at the university in Pecan Springs, is being accused of murdering one of the other faculty members, Miles Harwick. Harwick's animal experiments have galvanized opposition from animal rights groups, but Dottie has personal as well as professional problems with Harwick. A piece of physical evidence is all it takes for Dottie to be arrested. As China does some investigating, she discovers that other people have a motive to murder Harwick as well. Just as she thinks that she has the mystery solved, yet another possible suspect appears on the scene. The setting of the Texas Hill Country is a great place for a mystery and the characters surrounding China, especially her boyfriend Mike McQuaid just add to the fun.

    3-0 out of 5 stars So So China Bayles mystery
    China is considering moving in with McQuaid, stressful enough, and then her friend, known as the cat lady is accused of the murder of a fellow professor. The professor has alot of skeletons in his closet, everything from abusing animals to children, but who killed him?

    This is a pretty good mystery, but others of the series are much better.

    3-0 out of 5 stars China Bayles - amateur slueth
    As much as I enjoy this series, I feel like something is lacking, I just can't figure out what it is. I like the closeness of the characters, but have a hard time looking at them realistically. China is off on another investigation, this time trying to free her friend and animal rights activist, Dr. Riddle, from a murder charge. China owns an herb shop, but can always seem to find someone to 'mind the store' anytime of day whenever she needs to go nosing around on a case. This is the third in the series, and I'm not seeing any character development at all. The storylines are fun and good for a quick read, and I'm hoping the author will bring China out of her shell a little bit in future books and make her more enthusiastic toward her relationship with McQuaid.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Can Someone Give Me Directions to Pecan Springs, Texas?
    I was talking to a friend the other day who's read this series and we both agreed that we'd love to live in Pecan Springs, Texas and be one of China's quirky friends! The true test of a good mystery is that it keeps you guessing right up to the end, and this one more than fills the bill. The characters are as real as they come and some of the most interesting 'people' I know! LOL! Reading a new China Bayles mystery is like arriving at a party and discovering that all your favorite people are there.

    In this tale, China is appalled when she hears that her friend, Dottie (The Cat Lady), has been accused of murdering the mean old Professor Harwick (who's been known to threaten her cats) and sets out to find the real killer. Lots of intriguing twists and turns in this interesting, well-crafterd plot. Thanks, Ms. Albert, for creating such an entertaining, likeable character in China Bayles!

    3-0 out of 5 stars ready to give up on series
    This is my third China Bayles book and I am not impressed with the character. She is not very likeable and the story lines are barely enough to keep me from putting the book down. I like the setting of Central Texas (having grown up here), but she continually gets facts wrong. I mean, she even misspells "y'all" for goodness sake! That's something I am having a hard time getting past. I'll finish this one, but I think it's time to put this series down and find one that has a lead character that a reader can like and pull for. China is not that character. ... Read more

    11. Aunt Dimity and the Duke (Penguin Crime Fiction)
    by Nancy Atherton
    list price: $7.99
    our price: $7.19
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0140178414
    Catlog: Book (1995-11-01)
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Sales Rank: 52573
    Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (13)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Read the Entire Aunt Dimity Series...
    Nancy Atherton does not center this book around her usual title character, Lori Shepherd - but rather around her English neighbors and best friends. It is a delightful sideroad to travel down.

    The entire series is simply delightful and a great read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book in a wonderful series
    Although this is the second book of the Dimity series I would recommend reading this one first as it is sort-of an off shoot from the character in the first book Lori - if you read Atherton's first book Aunt Dimity's Death first you sort-of loose some of the excitement of this book but it is still fabulous and fun.

    Read them all!

    4-0 out of 5 stars A hint of romance and a dash of the paranormal.
    Heroine: plump

    CompuTech executive Emma Porter, a dumped frump abandoned by her lover of 15 years for a blonde sylph 20 years her junior, is anxious to leave New England for Old England and a long, relaxing vacation among the finest gardens of the world.

    Once there, a series of odd coincidences lands the amateur gardener at Cornwall's infamous Penford Hall, where his grace, Grayson Alexander, insists she is the one meant to restore his grandmother's favorite flowerbeds. While there she meets the duke's old friend Derek Harris, widowed earl's son and father of two precocious young children, who was hired by Grayson to renovate the manor and ferret out a missing antique lamp in the process. Derek expresses concern to Emma that his old friend's estate is in terribly fine shape considering that his grace had been left in penury by the late duke. In fact, the Hall and its nearby village appear to have undergone extensive expensive renovations in the very recent past.

    But where did the money come from? Was it possible Grayson was dealing in illicit funds? And did it have anything to do with Lex Rex, the punk rocker who met a tragic ending on the duke's yacht, and who turned out to have been penniless himself at the time of his death?

    Perhaps only Grayson's super-model cousin Susannah knows the answer, but she's not talking--at least not since an "accident" in the ruins of a nearby castle left her unconscious.

    What worked for me:

    An avid gardener myself, I'm always keen to read a story that involves flowers.

    The mystery kept me turning the pages, as did the sweet romance blossoming between Derek and Emma.

    I haven't tried it so can't vouch for it, but the strawberry tart recipe certainly sounds scrumptious.

             Size-wise Emma is full-figured, plump in her own eyes but deliciously curvy in her hero's. In fact, the men in the book seemed to prefer the charms of "hippy" women to that of the willowy super-model-in-residence.

    What didn't work for me:

    I thought the writing quality fell off a smidge in the middle of the book.

    This is the second novel, albeit a prequel, in the Aunt Dimity series, yet she only appeared briefly in the story. In fact, "Aunt Dimity and the Duke" seemed more like "Emma Porter and the Duke's Friend".


               A good read for fans of British cozies who like a gardening theme, a hint of romance, and a dash of the paranormal in their stories.

    If you liked "Aunt Dimity and the Duke" you might also enjoy "Thornyhold" or "The Dancing Floor".

    3-0 out of 5 stars Aunt Dimity and the Duke
    I read all the Aunt Dimity books. This one was a little slower in the beginning, but once your in, it's a good read. I liked that the main character wasn't Lori Shepard, but rather focuses on her best friend. It helped bring her character to life in the other books. I reccommend reading the whole series.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Aunt Dimity series
    If you aren't acquainted with Aunt Dimity, you have a wonderful experience in store for you. Do it now! Don't read the synopsis...just buy the books...all of them...then read and enjoy. They are delightfully unexpected. Both the men and the women in our family love them. We feel that the less you know about them before you read them the better. We only wish there were more of them. ... Read more

    12. Rueful Death: A China Bayles Mystery
    by Susan Wittig Albert
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0425159418
    Catlog: Book (1997-08-01)
    Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
    Sales Rank: 34289
    Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (9)

    3-0 out of 5 stars China Bayles on retreat?
    In Rueful Death, China finds herself involuntarily and unwittingly tricked into using her amateau detective skills. China has decided to take a two-week retreat at St. T's convent in order to wind down from the busy holidays. While there, she is asked to look into a series of fires. This book is different from Albert's others in such that you don't really want to choose a suspect, because who wants to think that a nun, or anybody working at a convent, is behind all the trouble? China also happens to run into a hunky ex-beau that she knew from her lawyer days. China doesn't get much rest on this retreat, but she does catch the firebug. Pretty much par for course in this series.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Get thee to a nunnery!
    China has survived the Christmas rush at her herb shop but is sadly in need of some private time. So off she goes to a nunnery! Together with her friend Maggie, she heads off to a remote nunnery where the sisters grow amazing garlic. Instead of the peace and quiet she longs for, China finds herself embroiled in a contentious power struggle between two groups of nuns working to combine two disparate orders into one. As the sister's jockey for position, fires break out and several mysterious deaths occur. If that wasn't enough, China runs into an old beau and the heat is still there. As she works to solve the nunnery mystery she is making major life choices for herself. Once again, I enjoyed the ride and learned more about herbs and gardening.

    3-0 out of 5 stars I agree, Not Her Best
    I was so excited to find this series, and I've enjoyed all the books so far. I enjoyed this one too, but it was not her best. I really missed Ruby. We only see her at the beginning, and there were no real harmless eccentrics in this one, and I think that is what Ms. Albert does so well. Also, the mysteries were a little simple compared to her other plots. I will continue to read the series because I love China Bayles so much. I'm also curious to see what she does with her life after she has reflected in the nunnery.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Will Someone Get Away With Murder?
    Another remarkably resourceful Texas cozy mystery, featuring China Bayles, former lawyer turned herb shop owner. China is on a post-Christmas overload, needing some soothing winding down time to consider whether to accept an offer to sell the herb shop, and whether to stick around Pecan Springs with McQuaid and son. She heads for some solitude at a quiet monastery where the sisters raise garlic. Full of garlic tidbits and trivia, the plotting is excellent and the characterization clever. Not only does China immediately find herself involved investigating some odd happenings, she also finds an old flame has moved into the vicinity.

    Ms. Albert sketches the setting so well, I feel as if I had a brief respite. And there is an exceptionally fun website for China (and friends) at, where you can visit between books.

    4-0 out of 5 stars More murder in a nunnery
    China Bayles gets out of Pecan Springs for a while, but doesn't get away from murder. Her friend Maggie arranges for the two of them to go on a retreat at her former home, but neglects to tell her of the strange happenings that they want her to investigate. A typical Bayles mystery, they are always entertaining, with a new set of characters. ... Read more

    13. Aunt Dimity Digs in (Aunt Dimity (Paperback))
    by Nancy Atherton
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 014027569X
    Catlog: Book (1999-03-01)
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Sales Rank: 58652
    Average Customer Review: 4.09 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (11)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Actual human/3D characters grow on you, and in themselves
    So call me cryptic. I think the feeling that remained with me after I finished this book last week was that Atherton's Dimity series shows us human nature--not pasteboard icons, for the most part--and honest characters. She does *not* rely on stereotypes, unless she's pitting them against each other to see what will happen.

    In most of her books in this series, I see actual character development and growth--characters learning from their mistakes and human failings. In many of the books, you see people who've been hurt in some way: some of them get stuck in a victim role, and wallow in their hate/fear, and others triumph over their pain, and choose to love and to live. Without being preachy, she quietly demonstrates that you don't have to wallow, but that you can choose to leave the past pain behind and make a new path. When you are caught in the grips of a major depression, it's a beacon, a demonstration that it can be done when the time is right.

    Enough of that. This was a ripping good read. I don't know where Ms. Atherton did her research on the plight of the Modern Mother in Western Civilization, but she sure has the isolation in a crowd aspect down right. I adored learning more about the village in this book; I can't speak for the archaeology, but the witch felt right (speaking from experience), and the idea that this was a traditional village of ... incomers hoping to find a home of their own, well, that was really sweet and unexpected.

    I had a lot of fun watching events play out, plots get more complicated and then resolved, and you really ought to stop reading this and order it.

    I continue to enjoy the way Aunt Dimity manages to communicate, and while I don't think I ever had a similar relationship with any of *my* stuffed animals (what few I had--I was an odd child), I see that relationship in my son and his toys/substitute siblings (his brother is a T. Rex, you know (and glad I am not to have carried THAT to term!)). I also enjoy the culinary overtones in the book.

    I look forward to the next one; and to being able to share impressions with other F2F friends who've read it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
    I began reading the Aunt Dimity books by accident. They are wonderful - I've read each of them in approximately 2 nights. I find myself being part of these books - very relaxed - sipping tea! I do not want to part with these stories - I could read them over and over. Perfect books to take your mind away and get caught up in an almost soap opera like story line - where you want to know everything about everyone. I certainly hope that this author writes for a long, long time!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars adictive reading
    What a wonderful book! Of course, I liked the entire series ... but I have to say I loved this one the best. A real page - turner, without being horrific. Atherton's charectors are charming and true; you want to spend time with them! Fantasy, mystery, and storytelling are intertwined seemlessly. One of Atherton's finest!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Mysteries Hitting Close to Home
    In this book of the Aunt Dimity series, Lori plays detective a little closer to home. Learning about some mysterious facts in the town's history, she involves herself in uncovering yet another secret in the English countryside. Like the others in the series, the pleasant life of Lori in Dimity's cottage is woven into the tale. And, of course, the ghost of Aunt Dimity is lurking around to help.

    4-0 out of 5 stars GOOD FUN AND GOOD READING
    Imagine a contemporary mystery sans bodies, blood or bludgeoning with a sleuthing heroine who is not a former forensic expert and you're getting close to Aunt Dimity Digs In, the fourth in a series of gentle, pleasant mysteries replete with quaint cottages, pots of tea, and a cast of eccentrics.

    Lori Shepard lives in a cozy English country cottage with her lawyer husband and infant twin sons. Worn to a frazzle by the babies' demands, she is rescued by the unexpected appearance of an expert nanny, Francesca Sciaparelli - think a statuesque, voluptuous Mary Poppins. But Lori's new found moments of relaxation are cut short by a cry for help from the local vicar. He fears an outbreak of civil war in the village of Finch due to a rancorous dispute involving the use of the schoolhouse. Peggy Kitchen, self-crowned queen of Finch, wants the building for her vaunted Harvest Festival but it has been assigned to a visiting archaeologist, Dr. Adam Culver, as headquarters for his dig.

    Although it seems that any combat in a place as benign as Finch would be waged with popcorn, Lori promises the worried vicar that she will try to find a copy of a pamphlet stolen from his desk. It seems that this mysterious document would prove there is no reason to dig near Finch and solve the squabble. Obviously, the thief entered through never-locked French doors, but who could have taken the pamphlet?

    With the aid of the late Aunt Dimity, who communicates with Lori by writing in a magic blue notebook, the mystery is eventually solved. But what a rare time is had along the way as Lori meets a witch who lives near the vicarage, and assists her followers via email. She swears she saw two other witches worshiping the moon the night the pamphlet was stolen. The local pub owners, logical suspects since a famous dig might put Finch on the map and bring them additional revenue, are convinced that the figures seen that night were actually aliens.

    Along the way romance blossoms between the comely, capable Francesca and Dr. Culver. What does it matter if Lori needs a little hocus-pocus from dear departed Aunt Dimity to bring the lovers together and peace to Finch? All's fair in love and war.

    Aunt Dimity Digs In is good fun and good reading, best done with lemon bars and piping hot tea at the ready. ... Read more

    14. Love Lies Bleeding: A China Bayles Mystery
    by Susan Wittig Albert
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0425166112
    Catlog: Book (1998-11-01)
    Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
    Sales Rank: 82293
    Average Customer Review: 3.79 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (19)

    2-0 out of 5 stars What A Disappointment
    I can only say that I loved allthe previous China Bayles books. Now I have no desire to continue the saga. This is not the same heroine I started reading about.I'm afraid the Author has made her into a woman I don't care for. I had a very hard time finishing the book because of her whimpy personal life attitude.I can't tell you how many times I put the book down because I was totally disgusted with China. The general mystery was good but my appeal for China is gone! I don't even want to know what happens in the next book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good Mystery but...
    This may be the last China Bayles for me. I love the series but I had a real hard time with the personal side of China's life. I can understand McQuaid's temptation, I can even understand his circumstances (although why it had to be that severe is questionable), but what I can't understand is how China befriended Margaret. She's a better woman than me. I enjoyed the plot of the mystery and visiting with old friends. I'll need to read the synopsis of Chile Death before I'll invest my reading time with China again

    1-0 out of 5 stars China is a total moron in this book...
    Let me start of by saying China has always been one of my favorite characters. And I would love to have her back in the next installment. This China, the simpering idiot who blames herself when her boyfriend betrays her, is not the strong heroine of previous books. Bring back the real China!!

    3-0 out of 5 stars An unexpected twist!
    The author sure thew a twist into this one. Back from her haitus at Saint T's convent, China is trying to get back into the swing on things. However, McQuaid is acting different, and China fears he is having an affair. She overhears a phone conversation between McQuaid and a woman and confronts him about it. McQuaid admits it is true, but that it is over. Also, unbeknownst to China, McQuaid is working undercover with the FBI regarding an issue with Texas Rangers. While China is trying to sort out her feelings, McQuaid is shot while working undercover on his case. We never really get to see how China would have worked things out because once she hears that McQuaid has been shot, everything else is immaterial. Not only does she totally forgive McQuaid for his affair, but she befriends the woman with whom he had the affair (an FBI agent). To top it off, she takes responsibility for the affair by saying that if she had said yes to McQuaid one of the many times he had asked her to marry him, he wouldn't have looked elsewhere. No matter how much she loves McQuaid, I have trouble equating this simpering female with the headstrong,independent China from the previous books.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Texan who dunnit
    This was my first China Bayles mystery...I enjoyed it, reading about China and the town of Pecan Springs was a hoot. Having gardening plans and ideas strewn throughout the book was fun. Being in the legal field, I can relate to the idea of leaving it all behind and running from the city to a quiet remote little town. But somehow I think the town of Pean Springs has a lot more danger lurking around than one would think. China's friends are quirky and add spice to the background. They mystery itself kept me quessing...I will hunt up the previous China stories as well as the more current ones. Great reading for an rainy afternoon or relaxing on the beach... ... Read more

    15. Eye of the Gator (Tony Lowell Mysteries)
    by E. C. Ayres
    list price: $22.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0312134908
    Catlog: Book (1995-12-01)
    Publisher: St Martins Pr
    Sales Rank: 1031837
    Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (1)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Fast-moving and interesting
    The information about the phosphate industry in the novel is very interesting and the plot moves along at a good clip. Like NIGHT OF THE PANTHER, there are lots of villians and the setting is great. This is the second Tony Lowell mystery I have read and enjoyed. ... Read more

    16. Bloodroot
    by Susan Wittig Albert
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0425188140
    Catlog: Book (2003-01-01)
    Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
    Sales Rank: 37623
    Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (16)

    5-0 out of 5 stars China must unravel the family secrets
    In this book China Bayles has to deal with her family that she disowned many years before. She deals not only with the living family, but she also has to unravel some family secrets and possibly deal with their ghosts.

    Her mother Leatha calls and asks her to come to come to Jordan's Crossing, the old family plantation in Mississippi. She will only tell her that Aunt Tullie might end up in jail if she doesn't come to help. China is no longer a practicing lawyer, but she gets Ruby to look after her herbal store Thyme and Seasons. She says goodbye to her husband McQuaid and his son Brian. Then takes off for Jordan's Crossing.

    When she arrives, she finds that not only has Aunt Tullie aged in the years since China has seen here, but she is also not well. Sometimes she is fairly lucid, but not always.

    Her mother tells her that Wiley showed up with what he claimed to be a deed to a portion of their land. No one seemed to be aware of this and Aunt Tullie got quite upset. Wiley hasn't been seen since. There are extenuating circumstances and then the Deputy gets involved in the search for Wiley.

    China renews an old friendship with Darlene, who is now the cook at Jordan's Crossing. They start looking into things and find that there is more going on than just a deed. China starts reading Great-Grandmother Pearl's diary hoping to unlock some of the secrets.

    China finds herself in many interesting situations and dealing with many feelings regarding her family and heritage. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more China Bayles mysteries. This book was very well written and the plot was masterfully crafted.

    I highly recommend this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed
    Like Murphy's Law, Bloodroot represents a departure from the author's usual place and, to some extent, time. Albert's popular heroine, China Bayles, left her criminal law career to open an herb shop in a small Texas town. Here China leaves her home and her new husband to answer a plea from her mother, Leatha, at the family plantation in Mississippi.

    China finds her great-aunt has finally become too ill to run the business. A man has produced a deed claiming ownership to the family property. When he is found dead, China must look in the past for answers, to protect her family and her long-ago friends.

    What seemed to be a long-ago dream turns out to hold the key to the interlocking mysteries of family, property and murder. Albert evokes the steamy summers and equally steamy secrets of life in a family that takes its dysfunctional qualities from the post-Civil War southern culture.

    The narrative moves swiftly, except for the many details about China's family tree that are needed to understand clues, red herrings and an ultimately satisfying ending. China's detective work, made easier by friendships formed in childhood, solves the crime. However, the family's secrets are unraveled by documents that literally turn up when China needs them most.

    The focus on history does take away the uniqueness of China's character, which blossoms in her home setting. At times I thought I was reading about Shankman's heroine, Samantha. And the uniquely southern blend of supernatural, dreams and real life reminded me of McCrumb's folksong series.

    Then again, people often lose part of themselves when they return home for a visit. Although Bloodroot offers a pleasant variation in the series, I suspect readers, like China, would like to get back to her herb shop in Texas.

    4-0 out of 5 stars I find Albert's books very interesting mysteries...
    Albert is a good writer and I enjoy learning about the deep South and even more learning about herbs and their ancient usage. In this book, China (the protagonist and owner of an herbal shop and tea shop) is required to confront her unsavory past when her mother calls and frantically begs her to come to the family plantation. Apparently, her old maiden aunt took a cane to a man who was trying to get land from her (probably legally his)...but her aunt is also sick with Huntington's disease. Huntington's is a familial, genetic disease that is much rarer then Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. It also tends to occur sooner in life then either of the other two diseases.

    So not only does China have to find out whether this man died from being whacked with a cane by an old lady, but she also has to worry about whether her mother and her possibly have Huntington's. Not only does she solve the mystery, but in her family research she finds out the information that helps her to deal with all of this knowledge.

    I would hate to see people do genealogy research because they are fearful of some disease. Family research should be done to find out information about what your ancestors did and accomplished. Huntington's disease is an awful disease that we still do not know a lot about...they are working on genetic therapy for it (replacement of genes) but still have a way to go. Everyone has 'problems' in their backgrounds, but it should not be approached in fear on the basis of a mystery. Enjoy the book, but take it with a grain of salt and a big dosage of knowledge.

    As usual, the herbology is great and very interesting.

    Karen Sadler

    4-0 out of 5 stars Roots rooted in mystery and blood lines
    The importance of your ancestry is never more solidly touted than when it comes to discovering what genetic ailments one might have passed on to his or her progeny. And thus, Aunt Tullie's ailment, the curse of Huntington's chorea, comes head on to both China Bayles and her estranged mother. And part of the poignancy of this mystery is China's forced link to her mother and her Mississippi heritage, something China has set aside in her adult life.

    The strong female role that epitomizes China Bayles life in each of the novels Albert has written of her is now exposed at its roots, and we see a strong and successful female who precedes China and her mother in Aunt Tullie. But with each discovery of what really ails her aunt, China and her mother both have to face the likelihood that they will both face a similar fate, fighting a disease for which there is no known cure, a decline to death that brings on a tortuous end. The reader can't help but hope that part of the mystery will be solved and that there will be some reason why China will not inherit this fate.

    With China displaced from her usual Texas base, she is not the business woman we usually encounter. Instead, she is the guest of her past and must face the close and haunting memories of her childhood, which come to her in dreams of vignettes played out in the moonlit grounds of her ancestor's home.

    This is a good ol' Southern set mystery, not as violent as a James Lee Burke tale but nicely eerie. And the departure from the Texas setting is not disconcerting at all. "Bloodroot" just enriches the reader's understanding of China, who will appear in several more volumes of Albert's imaginings. Fun reading, suspenseful and poignant with good food in all the right places.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Maybe the Best Thus Far?
    This is a departure for the series as China Bayles leaves Pecan Springs to go to her ancestral home, Jordan's Crossing in Mississippi, to help her mother with a problematic great-aunt. Most episodes have occurred in & around Pecan Springs. Great Aunt Tullie, about 85 years old, has Huntington's disease, a degenerative & inherited disease, that causes loss of control of muscles, speech, and emotions. There are other problems that have arisen in the years that China has been away - including a claim against the land, a man disappearing, and a mysterious old woman who seems to know more than anyone else about the family's history. I really enjoyed this entry into the series. It showed more depth into the development of characters and it was interesting to see the interaction between China and her semi-estranged mother, Leatha. Definitely worth reading and definitely worth looking forward to the next book. ... Read more

    17. The Tiger in the Smoke
    by Margery Allingham
    list price: $5.95
    our price: $5.36
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0786707194
    Catlog: Book (2000-03-01)
    Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers
    Sales Rank: 239716
    Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (8)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Miasma
    Despite the blurb and critical praise, this late novel is really no more than a thriller, not a "crime novel." As a thriller, it is quite successful, with some notably tense scenes in the London fog, although the finish on the French cliffs makes very little impact, and the plot, with its mixture of albinos, hunchbacks and dwarves, psychopathic ex-Commandos, saintly canons and buried treasure, is preposterous in the extreme. As a novel, it is less successful. Jack Havoc never comes across as the truly wicked man all the other character say he is, and the famous scene in the church is grossly over-rated. Thus, a rather pretentious return to the author's early 'plum pudding' approach combined with her late style, which is often very good but equally often requires close and careful reading to avoid headache (particularly in the scenes with the ghastly ex-service men).

    3-0 out of 5 stars Tiger tiger, burning bright, in the fogbound London night
    A thriller rather than a mystery. If you are new to Allingham's Campion stories this is not a good place to start, partly because it is so atypical of the series and also because the array of minor characters that flit through the pages, and which will be familiar to readers of previous Campion books, can be rather bewildering for the newcomer.

    Written in 1952, the story is interesting for its insight into aspects of life in post-war London. Some of the references, and much of the slang, will be lost on young, and non-British, readers. It will also perpetuate the myth of London being permanently fogbound. Present-day London hardly ever experiences fog, but in the fifties, when it was still an industrial city and suffered heavy smogs, it was commonly known as 'The Smoke', hence the book's title.

    In truth, the author's grasp of underworld culture is somewhat shaky. She doesn't get the language or the behavior quite right. She was from the rural English midlands and from a different social class, so this is very much an outsider's view.

    The intriguing story and the intense drama are what make this book worthwhile. It is well written and one episode, Lugg's driving through the fog, is hilarious. He wonders aloud at one stage whether he is approaching a traffic island or the side of a bank building. The villain, Havoc, is memorable. Oddly, there is no one, central hero. That role is shared between three or four characters. Campion himself is incidental.

    My one complaint about the plot is that it relies on a very remarkable coincidence, which is something that always undermines credibility. But if you are willing to accept it (and remarkable coincidences do occur in real life) then you can relax and enjoy this first-rate thriller.

    If you do enjoy "Tiger in the Smoke", you might also like Graham Greene's "Brighton Rock", which features the razor gangs of pre-war Brighton, and which has an equally memorable villain.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Gone for Soldiers Everyone
    Meg Eginbrodde has cause to be upset. On the eve of her wedding to Geoffrey Levett photographs of her first husband, who died in the war, suddenly start turning up. Someone wants her to think Martin Elginbrodde is still alive, and she doesn't know what to do. At a loss, Meg and Geoffrey turn to Albert Campion and Charlie Luke to help solve the problem. Campion and Luke are sure that Martin is dead, but they don't understand why someone is bent on proving otherwise. First an actor dies, then Geoffrey disappears, then a series of brutal killings points to someone who is desperately seeking information that Martin left for his wife before he died.

    The police discover that the killer is escaped convict Jack Havoc, a sociopath who believes in the science of luck; heartless, intelligent and deadly. Havoc is assisted by a motley crew of war veterans, who are every bit as terrifying as Havoc himself. The investigation becomes a desperate race against time, as Campion tries to outwit a criminal who is every bit as sharp as he is.

    "The Tiger in the Smoke" is an entirely different Margery Allingham story than we are used to. In the ever-present fog, the genial good humor and comedic sense of other Campion stories evaporate. Instead, we find ourselves confronting larger issues of good and evil, personified by Canon Hubert Avril (Campion's uncle) and the diabolic Mr. Havoc. One cannot help but compare Havoc's artificial family of ex-soldiers welded together by fear and distrust with the easy interplay amongst the characters that stand with Canon Avril, a man who refuses to lie.

    Avril, Luke and, for that matter, Havoc have larger roles than Campion does, which has not happened since "Crime at the Black Dudley." But the key character is Margery Allingham herself, whose own character and beliefs are the moving force behind the story. In "The Tiger in the Smoke" she demonstrates a great deal of depth that has hitherto been disguised. Expect something different and unnerving. This is a far cry from her previous work, and will always stand out as one of the most exceptional works of an exceptional writer.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling tale of good vs. evil
    "The Smoke" is fogbound post-WWII London. "The Tiger" is the truly evil Jack Havoc, who has escaped from prison by feigning mental illness to get sent to a psychiatrist, whom he fools and then murders. In his quest to get hold of a priceless hidden treasure, he doesn't care how many people he kills. This thriller, one of the best I've ever read, is notable for its graphic contrast of good, personified in the saintly Canon Avril (Albert Campion's uncle), and evil, personified in Havoc. There's also a most entertaining Dickensian cast of cockney characters. "The Tiger in the Smoke" is well worth reading and re-reading.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Finally! Available in America
    I am just thrilled this has finally been reprinted in America. I treasure a first edition acquired many years ago. I agree completely with the first reviewer - this is Ms. Allingham's best thriller. The characters are beautifully drawn and the action is like a symphony. Fabulous! ... Read more

    18. The Eleventh Commandment
    by Jeffrey Archer
    list price: $7.99
    our price: $7.19
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0061013315
    Catlog: Book (1999-05-01)
    Publisher: HarperTorch
    Sales Rank: 206246
    Average Customer Review: 3.62 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (47)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Thou Shalt Not Put This Book Down
    This commandment may not be the actual one, but The Eleventh Commandment, written by Jeffrey Archer, is a riveting, thrilling novel. The nonstop pace of this book makes it a winner, along with the witty set of characters, such as 28-year veteran of the CIA and holder of the Medal of Honor, Connor Fitzgerald. As the CIA's most deadly weapon, Fitzgerald is assigned by the hard-nosed, stringent Director, Helen Dexter, to assassinate a Russian presidential candidate. When the CIA turns against him, Fitzgerald ends up struggling to survive in the conflict he is in between the Russian Mafia, the President of the United States, his family, and the institution that he devoted much of his life to. With a series of backstabbing and deceiving tricks, the President and his long-lost best friend attempt saving his life.
    The unexpected always occurs in this spine-tingling book, and each page is better than the last. The fast pace and trickery throughout makes it nearly impossible to predict what will happen next, with each chapter ending as a cliffhanger. Eager to find out what will happen to Fitzgerald next, it is impossible to not root for him, whether it be in the Washington, St. Petersburg, or Australia. Because of the many conflicts within conflicts, the story never slows down, and the plot is always thickening. Although the constant change in point of view is a bit confusing, it makes it even more enjoyable for any reader. The Eleventh Commandment would appeal to anyone, male or female, young or old, who has the least bit of interest in either mystery, thrillers, suspense, or action. Starting this book would be agreeing to follow the commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Put This Book Down."

    4-0 out of 5 stars My first Archer novel...
    Although I have read J. Archer's short stories, The Eleventh Commandment is my first novel. Hence, I do not have any basis of comparison vs. his past novels, which most readers say are a lot better. Regardless of that observation, I have found this book very enjoyable. The opening scene has caught my attention & the subsequent events are definite page-turners. I agree that the story takes you for a (roller coaster) ride from one country to another & the events may be quite surreal. But what is specifically there which is not believable? For someone who has not worked with the secret service, much more with the NCOs, Connor's every movement is livid & brings us closer to feeling his dilemma. My only negative comment though is on how Mr. Archer portrayed Connor's character...a seemingly flawless person. But overlooking this shortcoming, The Eleventh Commandment is a very enjoyable read.

    2-0 out of 5 stars unbelievable thriller
    This is the first novel I have read by bestselling novelist Jeffrey Archer - and it will likely be the last. "The Eleventh Commandment" stretches credibility to such lengths that I lost all trust in the book. The first assault on credibility is the fact that the main character, Connor Fitzgerald, an assassin for the CIA, is a regular boy-scout kind of guy much admired for the content of his character as well as his chillingly efficient professional skill. Give me a break! Nice, normal guys, I don't think, go around murdering people in cold blood as a profession.

    The author is clever at setting a good scene with authentic details and he might have sold me on the notion that nice guys can be assassins - but he couldn't sell me a wholesale lot of plot twists and turns which add up to implausibility. Connor is so smart and has so many friends that leap into the story to help him out at critical points that he outwits everyone - the CIA, the Russians, the Russian Mafya (yes, it's spelled that way) -- evading capture and execution and effortlessly finding opportunities to stalk heavily-guarded world leaders. Thus, about half-way through the book, I began to lose interest in the story and from then on I just turned pages quickly to get to the end.

    2-0 out of 5 stars I did not enjoy reading it at all.....
    Its Funny to think a person such as Jerrery Archer who has written books as Kane and Abel {which is almost a legend} to write a very mediocre book such as The 11th commandment ... The book starts off well but then it starts to the stuck in the same place for long moments and this is very frustrating and boring short after i finished this book i felt very dissatisfied at the story and the very predictable ending that this book has...ahhh thats one more point the book is extremly predictable all the way .... I will not recommend this book .... look for another book from JA or many other good fiction authors ,i am not going to write a list here.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Not great, but a worthy effort
    This is a fairly decent book it is well thought out and one tends to have sympathy for the charecters. Some very good plot twists make up for "Huh" moments any of us might suffer from.

    I do have some issues with this book

    1. it takes a damn long time to get anywhere, once it does it manages to clip along fairly well and the reader tends to get interested but for the first 5 chapters it is just as slow as frozen molasses in winter time. (that's a regional expression we have in the south)
    2. Characters are built up and then discarded with no explanation as to where exactly it was that they went or in some cases just killed off conveniently almost as if the author got bored with them.
    3. The ending (particularly the very end) is worthless and severed no point at all why I had to struggle to reach the end and find out the ansewer to a question I already knew is totally beyond me.

    I did like the story I'm not saying that, its just that parts of it do have their flaws

    1. I liked the supporting characters Chris Jackson and Sergi in particular the back and forth between these two is priceless.
    2. The author does have a good ear for what he is talking about as far as the technical stuff is concerned I like that.

    Overall-Good book but not perfect you should still consider if you are a newcomer, would be a nice introduction to this author. ... Read more

    19. Rosemary Remembered
    by Susan Wittig Albert
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 042515405X
    Catlog: Book (1996-08-01)
    Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
    Sales Rank: 141144
    Average Customer Review: 4.12 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (8)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Definitely a great read!
    China finds her (and nearly everybody else's) accountant shot in McQuaid's blue truck, which they had borrowed to Rosemary. This happens shortly after a convicted killer, who McQuaid helped to put behind bars and who threatened to get even, was relased. Rosemary happens to resemble China at first glance and she was driving McQuaid's truck. Who shot Rosemary who was recently divorced from an abusive husband (who happens to manage a gunshop) and was involved with one of the local hotel co-owners? Did anybody really know Rosemary? Did she have a secret agenda? Why has the man she was involved with gone on a fishing trip shortly before Rosemary was killed? The hotel co-owner's brother-in-law (who owns the other half of the hotel) sends McQuaid after him to bring him back, but where did Jeff really go?
    China, who in the meantime has moved in with McQuaid, Brian and all his animals, is not only busy preparing a conventionof herbalists in Pecan Springs but also busy to find out about the motif for Rosemary's murder as well as her killer.
    Even though Pecan Springs is fictional, everyone who knows the Texas Hill County will immediately feel familiar with places and people. Susan Wittig Albert gets better and better! I think it is a good idea to make references to previous novels, because readers not familiar with them will know what has happened before and can start with any book of this series. Read this book and you will get hooked

    3-0 out of 5 stars An improvement over the first three.
    As with the first three books in this series, I still ask myself how come somebody who owns a store seems to have so much time to run around doing other things. But, getting beyond that, this has definitely been my favorite to date. In this one, after finding the body of Rosemary Robbins (who ran the store a few doors down from China), China seems to feel she owes it to Rosemary to find out who killed her. So once again, instead of letting the police do their job, she throws herself into the thick of things. So, you've got one dead body, one person missing, McQuaid out of the country trying to track down said missing person, an ex-con McQuaid helped put away recently released and threatening to come after McQuaid's son Brian (who has been left in China's care while McQuaid is out of the country), and McQuaid's ex-wife suing for custody of Brian. All in all, a big improvement over her previous books, and a lot of stuff happening. Of course, let's not forget the never-ending tidbits of knowledge regarding various herbs, which I think adds a pleasant side to each of these stories.

    4-0 out of 5 stars More Ruby please
    I figured out who the killer was early on but it didnt spoil the story. I really like China Bayles. She is cool. However if I could talk to Ms Albert I would ask her to please include more of the Ruby character and ease back on the Sheila!! I think Ruby rocks!! But I liked this book and I like this series. The herb info is cool too. I am reading these in order so I have a few more to go. I have enjoyed them all.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Quirky, Clever and Offbeat
    So far my favorite China Bayles book, this clever herbal mystery reads beautifully. From a stubborn air conditioner to step-child issues to murder, trekkies and channeling, and a host of wonderfully quirky characters, everything fits together neatly and truly works. The later books have more herbal lore included, which I missed a bit in this one, and Ms. Wittig Albert provided enough clues for the reader to puzzle out the mystery. Nonetheless, it was a delightful and enjoyable read.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Very simplistic mystery...
    Any regular mystery reader can figure this one out before it hardly gets started. Also, I feel the series is going downhill fast, specifically because of China's control freak boyfriend. Lose the man, China! ... Read more

    list price: $3.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0553249584
    Catlog: Book (1985-05-01)
    Publisher: Crimeline
    Sales Rank: 451142
    Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (4)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Allingham
    The best bit is the artistic milieu, especially the industrious Potters who live in a shed in the garden. Though lacking in talent, they are genuinely gripped by art. Mr Campion seems ghostly himself, drifting through, letting others talk and not cracking a single joke. And the lovely Lugg doesn't even get a mention. What was Margery up to?

    4-0 out of 5 stars Art's Labor Lost
    "Death of a Ghost" finds Albert Campion in attendance while the family of famous artist John Lafcadio prepares for a posthumous exhibit. Lafcadio, irritated at the thought that another artist, Charles Tanqueray, might outlive him, provided a series of paintings to be shown one at a time, after his death. Max Fustian, art dealer and general popinjay, has prepared a lavish event for this year's unveiling. He is aided in this effort by Belle, Lafcadio's wife and a cast of remarkable zanies that reside in and around the Lafcadio residence.

    No sooner does the party start than Tom Dacre, another artist is murdered when the lights suddenly go out. Campion manages to keep his old friend Stanislaus Oates from arresting Lafcadio's daughter Linda who was Dacre's jilted lover, but now must seek a solution to what appears to be a perfect crime. To make matters worse, another household resident is murdered by poison in mysterious fashion. Campion begins to suspect he is facing an ingenious killer with few, if any, moral compunctions.

    This is the type of mystery novel I think of as a 'set piece.' By that I mean that long before the end the puzzle is completely defined, the rules set out, and it is now up to the detective (and the reader) to fit the pieces together and make it work out. In this case, almost exactly halfway through (shortly after the reader has guessed the killer) Campion half-deduces / half-intuits the criminal. He manages to convince Oates of his conclusion, and it is now up to them to discover motive, means and proof. This is no small task, and before the end Campion must risk his life to bring the case home.

    This kind of writing always runs the danger of becoming an intellectual exercise or worse, boring. Allingham's skill is such that there is no danger of this. Instead, "Death of a Ghost" comes close to being a tour de force of characterization, which has always been Allingham's strength. Narrative is strong as well, and the novel, while not among Allingham's very best, is a great success and an enjoyable read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars the simple art of murder
    Years after his death salon painter John Lafcadio continues to haunt the art world with the yearly public unveiling - and subsequent auction - of one of a dozen stored masterpieces. At the revelation of the seventh painting the lights suddenly go out - when they come back on, there is a knife sticking out of the back of young watercolorist Dacre, fiance of the great artist's grand-daughter. Albert Campion, the universal uncle, is there, and doubts the police's initial guess of the culprit. He takes upon himself Mrs Lafcadio's charge to put a stop to the crimes - for soon there is a second murder within the artist's enchanted circle.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The art world, one dead painter, his models, his wife and...
    I had never read anything before by Margery Allingham but had heard about her. After I read Death of a Ghost, I decided to read all of her books....she is great. She puts together an exciting, different and well-ordered mystery with very good character studies. John Lafcadio was a well-known artist, dead now, whose wife had a big celebration once a year and shows a new painting of his. Everyone who is everyone comes. This time the party does not go smoothly.....for death comes! Albert Campion, friend of the family and some-time crime investigator looks into the murder. It's a good thing he does, because soon another body show up.. He and his friend, Insp. Oates take a journey through the art world, the greed, self-centeredness, hunger fame is all around them.. they talk to John Lafcadio's old models who still live at his house with his wife, Belle. She seems to be the only sane one in the house. The story is smooth, even, well-paced, and give just enough clues, but not too many. The ending is a surprise. I can't wait to curl up with tea, scones and another book by Margery Allingham ... Read more

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