From Publishers Weekly
Welcome back in her third appearance (following Thyme of Death and Witches' Bane) is China Bayles, the prickly and independent former lawyer who swerved out of the Houston fast lane to open an herb shop in Pecan Springs, Tex. Miles Harwick, an unpopular biology professor whose mild appearance belies a vindictive nature, is found drugged and hanged in his office even as animal rights activists are in the quad protesting his research and the new lab he wanted to build. When China's friend, the cat-loving and plain-talking Dottie Riddle, Harwick's neighbor and colleague opposed to his plans, becomes the main suspect, the herb-shop proprietor reluctantly realizes that her lawyer's instincts can't be left behind as easily as big-city life and activates the old-girl network to come to Dottie's defense. Despite a slow start and little herbal lore, the plot unfolds briskly and with sly humor as China and friends, some of the savviest women to inhabit mysteries since Harriet Vane, investigate crimes and motives.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
It looks like a duel to the death between cat-rescuing fanatic Dottie Riddle and her Central Texas State College colleague Miles Harwick, whose latest grant finances the wholesale slaughter of guinea pigs who've endured a long ``weightless'' suspension. Fortified by an animal-rights contingent (including Amy Roth, an unprepossessing young lady who's just full of surprises), Dottie pickets Miles's lab; Miles imprisons one of Dottie's beloved felines and sends her threatening letters; Dottie forges a death threat to herself; but it's Miles who's found dead in his office, strung up like--well, like a guinea pig. Dottie's friend China Bayles, retired from the Houston rat race to an herbal shop in Pecan Springs (Witches' Bane, 1993, etc.), dusts off her law degree to help clear Dottie and soon learns, with the help of a blackmail letter obligingly left behind in the college's computer files, that Miles was hiding much bigger secrets than cruelty to animals: He'd been involved in child molesting and a complex financial scam- -though none of this stuff, rather improbably, is the real reason for his death. In fact, the circumstances of the murder, from motive to method, defy belief. The good news is that, having largely written herself through the pipe-dream Pecan Springs herbalist cozies and dysfunctional family babble that marked her first two mysteries, Albert goes in for more serious plotting and a more generous distribution of suspicion here. Who knows what's next? (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.