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by Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley Prime Crime, June 2003
254 pages
ISBN: 0425190021

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

There are 10 China Bayles short stories in this collection which had its start as a series of short stories for Country Living Gardener's on line magazine. All the stories take place in and around Pecan Springs, Texas, where China, former Houston attorney, runs Thyme and Seasons Herbs, its attendant garden and small tearoom, Thyme for Tea, It's not too good an idea to become too friendly with China, or Ruby Wilcox, owner of Crystal Cave, the New Age shop next to Thyme and Seasons and part owner of Thyme for Tea, because something bad is bound to happen to you.

The stories are charming, ranging from a missing will to a missing cat, a stolen cookbook, to saving an historic house from being razed. Each of the stories visits with different denizens of the area, some familiar from the books and some new ones. The major characters are introduced in the beginning, before the stories, so even if you are not familiar with the eleven novels that make up the series, you can enjoy these tales.

There are lots of recipes and herb lore which I found interesting but, since I am one of those people who read quickly, but still read every word, found that the digressions interrupted the flow of the story, even though the sidebars were just that. The bits of information are placed outside the text of the story, either on the side or at the bottom, or, if a long recipe, on another page, but within the story, not as footnotes or endnotes.

They are vignettes of life in a small Texas town that has all sorts of touristy things in it ...not really stories and not always involving murder but charming nevertheless.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, May 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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