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by Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley, April 2007
320 pages
ISBN: 0425213943

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

China Bales , owner of a herb shop in Pecan Springs, Texas, has a lot on her mind lately. She has recently met her half brother Miles Danforth, who is a lawyer and very successful. China and her mother had no idea that her long dead father had a son from another relationship. Miles is sure that their father was murdered and not killed in an automobile accident and so he asks China's PI husband Mike McQuaid to help him prove his theory. Mike agrees but China wants little, if anything, to do with the investigation.

China's best friend Ruby Wilcox has just broken up with her boyfriend, Colin Fowler. China isn't unhappy about this since she never cared for Colin but Ruby is upset. Making matters worse, Ruby's mother is elderly and sick and Ruby has to leave Pecan Springs for a little while to help her mother move into a nursing home.

While Ruby is gone, China and her friend Carole are outdoors looking for wild yucca plants for the papermaking class Carole will be teaching. They not only find plenty of plants but a dead body too that of Colin Fowler.

Unfortunately, China is the one who has to tell Ruby that the Colin is dead but she also wants to find out who killed him and why. As she investigates, against the police chief's wishes, she finds out some suspicious things about the man. Could Colin actually be an ex narcotics officer and if so, what is he doing in Pecan Springs?

SPANISH DAGGER by Susan Wittig Albert is yet another superb book in the wonderful China Bayles series. Albert is one of the best writers around. She has an uncanny way of writing about murders, herbs, friendship, and small town life that has readers begging for more.

Each book in this series is a standalone. At the start of every novel Albert gives the readers a tour of Pecan Springs and re-introduces us to the people who live there. The tour lasts for only a few paragraphs but it enough to get new readers involved with the town and as a fan of China Bayles and Pecan Springs, I never get bored reading these paragraphs. They help to remind me about the town and its delightful inhabitants.

The books have a lot of information about herbs and how they are not only healthy but also calming as well. Albert also includes lots of recipes that you can try for yourself.

Other authors can learn from Albert and her writing style. She writes good, solid mysteries with likeable characters. Read SPANISH DAGGER not just because it's a great mystery that is filled with wonderful characters but read it to see how an excellent writer writes. Susan Wittig Albert is always on top form.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, June 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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