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by Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley Prime Crime, January 2003
304 pages
ISBN: 0425188280

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I have a in-born resistance to being classified as a "cozy" reader. I'll reluctantly admit to being a closet-fan of "Murder, She Wrote" but I still find myself resistant to the idea of being a reader of the malice domestic variety of mystery. Perhaps it is the sometimes clichéd storylines that I've often run across... perhaps it is simply my own vision of cozy readers being little old ladies (which I will never admit to being--even when I'm 90). Regardless, there are very few amateur sleuths with whom I am eager to spend my precious reading time: Jerrilyn Farmer's Madeline Bean, Victoria Thompson's Sarah Brandt, Margaret Chittenden's Charlie Plato and Barbara Seranella's Munch Mancini.... But top of the list is Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles.

China Bayles is an attorney-turned-herb-shop-owner whose knack for trouble is only enhanced by her genuine, earnest desire to help those around her. In her latest adventure, Indigo Dying, China is drawn into the fight for a dying town, Indigo, Texas. She and her friend, Ruby, use good, old-fashioned snooping and new-age intuition to help find the truth behind the murder of the town bully.

Infused with the solid mystery is a bounty of entertaining and informative insights about herbs, natural dyes and human behavior. The authors genuine love for the subject comes through in every page, making research seem less like research and more like the passing-on of age old wisdom. If there is one thing you can't fake in a book, it is the author's own genuine interest in the topic and characters. The China Bayles series has this sparkling quality in spades--making it a top-shelf series in my hard-edged-police-procedural library.

Reviewed by Cathy Gallagher, January 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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