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Chile Death by Susan Wittig Albert

>> Friday, March 19, 2010

Chile Death by Susan Wittig Albert

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: #7 in the China Bayles series
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 208
Challenges: What’s In a Name 3 #3 (Plant), Support Your Local Library #12
Source: Library

The Short Version:
When local businessman Jerry Jeff dies in the midst of judging the local Chili Cook-off, local herb shop owner China Bayles tries to find out if it was a tragic accident or murder.

Why I Read It:
Whenever I sign up for a reading challenge I first scan the list of next books for the many series I’m reading. This one was perfect for the plant category of the What’s in a Name 3 challenge and a perfect opportunity to return to a series I enjoy but haven’t read in a while.

The Book:
China Bayles is a former high powered Houston attorney who left the whirlwind of that career to open an herb shop in a small town in the hill country of Texas. Her boyfriend and perhaps fiancé Mike McQuaid is a former cop so they have more legal and investigative expertise than many amateur sleuths you might find in a cozy mystery series.

This time around, the local Chili Cook-off is rudely interrupted when one of the judges dies in the middle of the judging. Jerry Jeff Cody was a partner in the local insurance firm and well known throughout the area. Was his death a tragic accident or devious murder? China and McQuaid end up working together this time around to find out the truth.

At the same time there is drama at the local nursing home when employees are suspected of theft and possible patient abuse. China is asked to help out a young nurse’s aide who many feel was wrongly fired. It turns out that the facility administrator may have a suspicious past.

Pecan Springs is not exactly a sleepy little hill country town with all the intrigue happening. At the same time China is trying to figure out what really happened at both the Chili Cook-off and at the nursing home, she’s also dealing with running her business, considering an additional joint business venture with a friend and oh, maybe or maybe not getting married to McQuaid.

My Thoughts:
This was one of my favorites of this series so far. There are many things I like so much about this series. China is a likeable character. As I said earlier her legal background gives her a leg up on most amateur sleuths who are in the business mostly because they’re nosy. Her relationship with McQuaid continues to grow and develop as the series continues. It’s not always smooth sailing and the normal ups and downs of their relationship are complicated by both of them alternately seeking and resisting commitment. China also has realistic interactions with McQuaid’s young son and her own mother.

There are quite a few recurring characters in the series, but the most prominent of the secondary characters is China’s best friend Ruby. She runs a new age shop and has plenty of quirky ideas, but she cares deeply for her friend and can be downright dependable when most needed.

I enjoy the way the author intersperses facts and lore about the title plant or herb in every book. This time around it the Chile (the pepper) not to be confused with Chili (the spicy stew). There are lots of little tidbits, legends and facts about both Chiles and Chili throughout the book.

As for the mystery (or in this case mysteries), they’re interesting, well played out, somewhat predictable, but with enough surprises and twists to keep it interesting.

If you’re looking for a fun and interesting cozy mysteries, start with the first one in this series, Thyme of Death.

Rating 3.5/5

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. To see who else is participating go to Beth Fish Reads, Weekend Cooking, here.


rhapsodyinbooks 3/19/2010 7:00 AM  

This sounds like lots of fun. And I would love the chile lore!

jenclair 3/19/2010 12:34 PM  

I like this series, but haven't read any in a while. Thanks for reminding me!

Sherri 3/19/2010 4:19 PM  

Thanks for the review Suzi-I was wondering how this book was. I see your reading Blood Orange...-I love that series! Enjoy!

Beth F 3/20/2010 9:43 AM  

You should link this review up with Weekend Cooking! I need to get to this series. Sounds great.

caite 3/20/2010 12:37 PM  

I have never heard of this series before but it sounds interesting. I must say, I am a sucker for a funny title...Thyme of Death...cute.

Literary Feline 3/21/2010 11:42 AM  

I was just eying a book by Susan Wittig Albert at the bookstore the other day. This does sound like a good series. Definitely one I need to check out--as if I'm in need of more series to get involved in. LOL I don't think I could stop if I wanted to. :-)

Framed 3/21/2010 4:54 PM  

I've really enjoyed this series. I'm trying to get my hands on the last three without actually purcashing them. China Bayles is a great character. I also like Albert's Beatrix Potter mysteries although they are completely different than the Bayles series.

SuziQoregon 3/23/2010 6:56 PM  

Rhapsodyinbooks: It's a fun cozy series.

Jenclair: I probably pick up one of these a year. Not a back to back series for me but fun when I'm ready for it.

Sherri: Well, as you can see by my review, Blood Orange Brewing wasn't exactly a hit with me. I do enjoy the China Bayles series a lot.

BethF: thanks for the nudge to link up with Weekend Cooking. I think you'd like this series quite a bit.

Caite: It really is one of my favorite cozy mystery series - all the titles have an herb or plant and info about that plant is throughout the book.

Literary Feline: I think the reason this is a cozy series is that the main character has some background in the law so she's not a total amateur sleuth. I have a hard time resisting series too. Several of the series I'm reading are your fault (Karen Olson book coming up in the next week or so).

Framed: I was pretty sure, so I went back and checked my spreadsheet. It was your review of this book back in October of 2006 that made me start this series, so a belated Thank You!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

I do moderate comments on posts older than 14 days in order to control spam. I will approve your legitimate comments as soon as I can.

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