May 30, 2019

A Plain Vanilla Murder

Hello my cozy friends,

Today I am reviewing "A Plain Vanilla Murder" the 25th installment in the long running mystery series featuring amateur sleuth China Bayles." by Susan Wittig Albert.  I enjoyed visiting Pecan Springs again .

Length: 296 pages
Publisher: Persevero Pr (June 4 2019)
Genre: Cozy Mystery

From Susan Wittig Albert, the New York Times best-selling author of Queen Anne’s Lace, comes an intriguing new addition to her widely-acclaimed China Bayles Mysteries. 

China and Ruby Wilcox are presenting their annual “Not Just Plain Vanilla Workshop,” always a huge hit with customers at Thyme & Seasons Herb Shop. But someone involved with the workshop is driven by a deadly motive, and China soon finds herself teaming up with the very pregnant Pecan Springs police chief Sheila Dawson to solve a vanilla-flavored murder.

Sheila, happy to get out from behind the chief’s desk, is investigating the death of a botany professor, a prominent researcher specializing in vanilla orchids. China is trying to help a longtime friend: the dead professor’s ex-wife and a prime suspect in his murder. 

However, there’s no shortage of other suspects: a betrayed lover, a disgruntled graduate student, jealous colleagues, and a gang of orchid smugglers. But the lethal roots of this mystery reach back into the dark tropical jungles of Mexico, where the vanilla vine was first cultivated. At stake: a lucrative plant patent, an orchid that is extinct in the wild, and the life of an innocent little girl.

A Plain Vanilla Murder is a flavorful blend of mystery and herb lore, present sins and past secrets, and characters who are as real as your next-door neighbors—stirred together in an absorbing novel that only Susan Wittig Albert could create.

I have been a fan of China Bayles Mysteries for over a decade.  But must admit I haven't read any in a few years. I do love the way Susan Wittig Albert weaves a story with history and natural history so that you end up learning something as well as escaping for a few hours.  

I was thrown off by the fact that the story didn't focus much on China’s family, Ruby, per previous books but tended to really focus on the very pregnant Police Chief Shelia and how she manages to jump into the thick of things, despite her late stages of pregnancy. With that said it still was a good  story. 

There are twists and turns and red herrings throughout the story and it moves at a steady pace.  I had a hard time putting it down.  

I requested and received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Persevero Press and NetGalley.  All thoughts and opinions are my OWN.

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