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Cat's Claw
China Bayles Mystery, No 20
Susan Wittig Albert

Berkley Prime Crime
March 6, 2012 / ISBN 9780425245279
Cozy Mystery

Reviewed by Linda Morelli

China Bayles is a retired criminal attorney, now herbalist, who runs Thyme and Seasons. She responds to an email from Larry Kirk, a computer guru, who believes he's being stalked. Minutes later, China is called by a neighbor and told that Larry is dead.

Pecan Springs' first Police Chief, Sheila Dawson, is China's friend. She's on a case involving George Timms, a man booked for criminal trespass in an attempt to retrieve incriminating evidence. He claimed he was blackmailed, that his computer was in Kirk's shop. When she hears of Kirk's death, Sheila jumps at the chance to assist in the investigation. Sheila can handle herself in any situation, but she's tired of sitting behind a desk. She soon learns that Timms is not the only suspect in the case, for Kirk's soon to be ex-wife, and her library boss also had motive.

Cat's Claw by Susan Wittig Albert is the latest release in a series featuring China Bayles. Though China is still a major character, this novel centers on Sheila, a strong female, who loves to pull the pieces of a crime together to preserve order in a chaotic world. The author uses first person when in China's point of view, and switches to third person for all others, which was a bit disconcerting for me at first. However, this style accentuates China's and Sheila's different goals and personalities, making them feel real. The author has added some wonderful minor characters, such as Ruby and Detective Bartlett, to give this book extra appeal.

I enjoyed Cat's Claw for the wonderful setting and vivid characters. Most of all, it was the perfect cozy mystery, one that had a marvelous plot that kept me involved until the satisfying end.

Reviewer's Note: Also referred to as a Pecan Springs Mystery with Police Chief Sheila Dawson as lead character.

China Bayles' Book of Days (NonFiction)

Reviews of other titles in this series

Mistletoe Man #9
Dilly of a Death #12
Dead Mans Bones #13
Bleeding Hearts #14
Spanish Dagger #15
Nightshade #16
Wormwood #17 [review 1] [review 2]
Mourning Gloria #19
Cat's Claw #20
Widow's Tears #21
Death Come Quickly #22
Bittersweet #23
Blood Orange #24
The Last Chance Olive Ranch #25 [review 1] [review 2]
Queen Anne's Lace #26

Reviewer Linda Morelli is the award-winning author of Fiery Surrender, Shadow of a Doubt, and Lani's Challenge.
Reviewed 2012