From Publishers Weekly
In Albert's assured 14th outing for China Bayles (after 2004's A Dilly of a Death
), the herbalist and ex-lawyer is worried about the effect of the poor tourist trade on her Pecan Springs, Tex., herb shop, tea room and New Age store owned jointly with her best friend, Ruby Wilcox, when her 14-year-old stepson, Brian, announces a disturbing discovery: while on an archeological dig in a cave, he found a skeleton with its skull bashed in. Analysis later shows that the bones are about 30 years old. After a leading citizen shoots dead an apparent intruder in self-defense, China begins to suspect there's a link between this incident and the past murder. In her own quiet way, China pursues the truth. China's warmth and sensitivity toward Ruby's new boyfriend, the new professor at the local university and others will endear her to readers, while her investigative skills make her a leader among female sleuths. Fascinating information about herbs and tempting recipes round out this leisurely cozy with a Southwestern flair. (Apr. 5)
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China Bayles is always trying to teach us stuff: it's not annoying at all but somehow soothing and fascinating. The ex-attorney turned herbalist in the Texas town of Pecan Springs loves to talk about the plants and herbs she grows; she loves to share recipes and run her business (herb shop, tearoom, catering) with her friend and partner, Ruby; and she loves the opportunity to enjoy her spouse and teen stepson. In this gently narrated cozy, a skeleton in a cave allows China to think about archaeology, forensics, love affairs, immigration, and secrets from the past. Meanwhile, two elderly and reclusive sisters, one imperious and the other frail, the last of their family, donate a building, the funds for its renovation, and property for a community theater, with the stipulation that a play written about their father must be the first production. These events turn out to be intimately connected to the body in the cave, and it makes for an enjoyable journey as China makes the necessary connections one by one. GraceAnne DeCandidoCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved