The herbalist and amateur investigator China Bayles has a knack for getting herself involved in sticky situations. In Mourning Gloria, she happens upon a house fire just in time to hear a woman trapped inside screaming for help. China calls 9-1-1 and tries to get in to save the woman but the heat drives her back. The investigation of the event by fire marshalls and police reveal that it was no accident and that the woman had been shot and tied up before being left to die in the flames. Who in the peaceful town of Pecan Springs would possibly be guilty of such a gruesome act?
One who tries to piece the story together and find the solution to that question is a young woman intern-reporter at the local newspaper. Jessica Nelson tracks down leads and clues to the story, but then she suddenly disappears. Did she find the murderer and will she meet the same fate as the first victim?
Her friend, China Bayles, is on the case and sets out to track her down, find out what has happened and save her, if it is not already too late.
One of the most interesting things about the Bayles series for me is the herb lore that is woven into the stories and the yummy-sounding recipes that are included. This entry is no exception.
This was a well-plotted story that moved along without any draggy parts. Susan Wittig Albert is an experienced writer in full command of the art of the mystery, who knows how to keep the reader interested in turning those pages and who fills her stories with sympathetic characters. That's why each of the China Bayles mysteries is such a pleasant read.