Nightshade: China Bayles #16
by Susan Wittig Albert
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425219560
Date: 01 April 2008 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Blog / China Bayles Website / Author's Podcasts / Author Interview / Show Official Info /
This story has been building over the last couple of books and with Nightshade, Susan Wittig Albert pulls together all the threads of her story, to lay out the background of China's youth, collage, and early work years. Most families have history, but China has only hinted at hers. Now we get to find out some of the details and incidents that make her the woman that we know. To solve the crime, China must face her past and look beyond the pain to truly see what was happening around her.
This is a difficult book, as are most that deal with family in an honest and open manner. Family has been a big part of the China Bayles books from the beginning. China's had to reconcile with her mother, she began a family with Mike and his son, and she developed a family of sort with her business partners. There's the family you're born into and the family you make for yourself. China has become rich in family and friends over the course of the series.
The mystery is steeped in Texas politics and money, the uses and abuses of power and the solution also requires remembering the history as it is doled out within the book. With changing points of view between China and Mike, the clues are uncovered and slowly build tension until the final act. If you haven't read previous books in the series, I believe you could still follow this one and enjoy it.
Of course there are some great recipes included at the end of the book all using some form of the nightshade family, which includes potatoes among other familiar plants. Check out Albert's website for more information about herbs and their uses.