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Rueful Death [Mass Market Paperback]

Susan Wittig Albert
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 9.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

April 15 2002 China Bayles Mystery (Book 5)
During a supposedly relaxing retreat at a Texas convent, herbalist China Bayles and her friend Maggie, an ex-nun, investigate the seemingly accidental death of the Mother Superior and uncover a deadly conflict within the walls of the cloister. Reprint. PW. "

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Early in this intelligent addition to herbalist China Bayles's adventures (Thyme of Death; Rosemary Remembered), one character laments that she has given up reading about women detectives because they are all "Raymond Chandler in drag.... Lotta guts, no soul." Wittig takes up the challenge, showing how to do it right with quiet humor and only an occasional overload of introspection. Exhausted by the Christmas season and her new roommates, love interest Mike McQuaid and his 12-year-old son, China takes off for a retreat at St. Theresa's Monastery in Texas's remote and wild Yucca River country with friend Maggie Garrett, a former nun. In spite of its tranquil appearance, the religious order is in a state of turmoil. Having received a legacy worth millions, St. Theresa's has merged with another order which wants to use the money to open a high-powered retreat center. The two sides are hopelessly deadlocked when the Reverend Mother, the tie-breaking vote, dies mysteriously. China agrees to look into the death. Her investigation quickly takes on urgency when threatening events ensue: someone shoots at her, some small fires are set and she finds the deadly herb rue growing in the garden. Even when the stakes seem too high or unlikely for ordinary life, Wittig manages to make them mostly believable, mainly because China's character is credible (when she makes a mistake, she gets embarrassed). Albert gives readers a page-turner and soul to spare.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Delightful series sleuth China Bayles, owner of a small-town herb shop, is vexed by troubles at a Texas convent where the mother superior has just died. More quality diversion from the author of Thyme of Death (LJ 10/1/92).
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Afterward, when I thought about what happened at St.Theresa's, I felt embarrassed and a bit rueful. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Her Best -- So Far! May 3 1999
By A Customer
I just became acquainted with this author's series recently. I read (and enjoyed) Thyme of Death, and Witch's Bane, but this book is the best so far!! I enjoyed the setting and atmosphere, and the off-stage (so to speak) deaths (Witch's Bane and even Thyme of Death had some pretty bloody, gory deaths, which I don't care for).

One minor quibble: the author could do with a bit of better copy editing. 1) She had too many nuns name Rose (and variants thereof) -- it got confusing. 2) Early on in China's stay at the monastery, she & Maggie go up the cliffs at night. Just before they do, the author mentions a "sliver of moon" hung low in the sky, but when they're on the cliff, all is bathed in moonlight!! You don't get much moonlight from a sliver, and suddenly the moon is described as "quarter round" -- huh?? "Quarter round" I take to mean full -- certainly, the landscape won't be bathed in moonlight under a crescent (sliver) moon.

There is just as glaring a copy editing problem in Witch's Bane; unfortunately, it's just as China is realizing who the murderer is, so I'm not going to describe it here online.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Terror Stalks a Community of Nuns Nov. 20 1996
By A Customer
Rueful Death by Susan Wittig Albert takes place in a community of nuns. China Bayles, herb store proprietor, feeling hemmed in and increasingly entangled in domesticity, decides to go with her friend, former nun Maggie Garrett, to St. Theresa's Monastery for a retreat. But the monastery has undergone changes since Maggie was there, with nuns from an urban community forceably joined with those who chose this isolated rural environment. Resentment, power struggles, jealousy all grow from this mix. They produce arson and anonymous accusatory letters to some of the nuns. The menace and venom cascade from this novel. This is a mystery, but it is also a serious, thoughtful study of beliefs. The role of women within the Catholic Church is at the center of this novel along with the role of the Church and whether it should be contemplative or active. Two groups of nuns with exactly opposite ideas about such vital questions produce a foreboding and portentous atmosphere in which acts such as arson and threatening letters seem almost normal. This is a crackling good story, with entertaining people, intriguing problems and a surprising solution
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5.0 out of 5 stars Will Someone Get Away With Murder? April 3 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Get thee to a nunnery! July 6 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars China Bayles on retreat? April 10 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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