Widow's Tears (China Bayles)
by Susan Wittig Albert
Cover Artist: Joe Burleson
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425255728
Date: 02 April 2013 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Widow's Tears is very much Ruby's story. Ruby Wilcox and China Bayles have been friends since the beginning of the series, but as their personal and professional connections have grown, they've come to appreciate each other's strengths and insights. It's the interactions between the characters in the series and their growth and change that make the China Bayles mysteries one of my favorite series.
Ruby has been feeling overwhelmed lately and finding that some of the joy is missing from her day. She hasn't taken a vacation in years, so when her friend Claire Conway calls and asks her to come and check out her newly inherited home, Blackwood House, Ruby decides to take some time off. China will make sure everything runs smoothly while she's gone.
Ruby, in the past novels, has shown some of her psychic talent. Where China is rational, Ruby is more intuitive. However, China appreciates Ruby's input even when she doesn't understand how it works. In the past, Ruby's talent helped them solve cases.
Claire has been friends with Ruby for years and needs her help with a ghost. Ruby, on the other hand, doesn't want to tap into her power that deeply because she fears what it might do to her. Blackwood House is haunted. Ruby can feel it but she doesn't trust herself.
The story line shifts between the present and the past when Rachel Blackwood and her children were caught in a hurricane on Galveston Island in 1900. Having read the first few chapters, readers will know that the Blackwood House that Claire has inherited is not the one that was lost in Galveston, but a replica built from memory by Rachel after the hurricane.
There are several mysteries to be solved in Widow's Tears. What happened to Rachel Blackwood and her family? Why does Ruby hesitate to use her gift? What does the ghost want with Ruby and Claire? And, tangentially, is there a way China can convince Ruby not to leave their partnership?
All of these threads, plus a couple of others, come together in one huge storm of revelation and resolution in Widow's Tears. Albert also includes some resources for those who'd like to learn more about the 1900 hurricane in Galveston -- though the details in the book will be upsetting enough for some readers.
Includes a List of Resources, Recipes from Thyme for Tea (Tomato Quiche with Basil and Green Onions, Spring Green Bisque with Spinach and Basil, Ruby's Romaine Salad with Orange-Ginger Dressing, and Rose-Geranium Pound Cake with White Chocolate Glaze), and Symbolic Meanings of the Plants in Widow's Tears.