China Bayles Mystery, No 20
Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley Prime Crime
March 6, 2012 / ISBN 9780425245279
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.