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Widow’s Tears
China Bayles Herbal Mystery #21
Susan Wittig Albert

Berkley Prime Crime
April 1, 2014/ ISBN 978-0-425-25464-6
Mystery / Amateur Sleuth / Cozy / Paranormal

Reviewed by Laura Hinds


I read Widow’s Tears in 2013 when it was first released as a hardcover edition. Circumstances conspired to allow me the opportunity to read the book again as well as to review it and I couldn't have been more pleased.

The China Bayles Herbal Mystery series is a longtime fan favorite, with devoted readers who adore China and her supporting cast of characters. Widow’s Tears brings a new twist to the series- featuring China’s friend Ruby Wilcox as the prime mover of the story. What a delightful surprise! Ruby’s discovery of the true depth of her psychic abilities takes the mystery into a paranormal direction, while allowing China to keep her head and heels firmly grounded.

The story begins during the prologue, as we learn about the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The storm cost Rachel Blackwood her home and her entire family. In present times, the house that Rachel had built 100 miles inland is owned by Claire Conway, a childhood friend of Ruby. Claire hopes to turn it into a bed and breakfast, but there are problems. Little things- like it may be haunted! Ruby agrees to visit Claire and see if her extrasensory perception skills can provide any answers or help.

China has her own problems back home in Pecan Springs. There is a horrible bank robbery that results in the murder of a teller. Another crime, another murder is not what China needs right now. When she heads out to visit Ruby, at The Blackwood House (Claire’s home), she finds herself both literally and figuratively in the midst of a terrible storm. Will Claire and Ruby be able to solve a haunting, a historical tragedy, and a modern day murder?

Susan Wittig Albert has once again produced an exciting, suspenseful murder mystery that takes the reader along on a fascinating ride. I enjoyed having most of the action take place outside of the familiar Pecan Springs. It was a nice change of pace, but with just enough of Pecan Springs and China’s family and business to keep things familiar. I loved the interwoven stories, and the time shifts from past to present and back again. While reading the book for the second time, I found it just as interesting as the first time, which says a lot about the detail and plotting work that went into the story.

I very highly recommend this to all fans of this series, and to those mystery lovers who enjoy a touch of the paranormal, and a slightly off-the-beaten-path view of our heroine, China Bayles. Bravo Ms. Albert, and thank you for a fabulous book!

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

Reviewed 2014