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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 /

Mike McQuaid is still working on building up his P.I. business, but so far he has only one client--China's half-brother, Miles Danforth. This wouldn't be so bad, except that Miles is convinced their father was murdered and he wants McQuaid to help him find out who did it. But first they need to find the evidence that it was a murder. China just wants to let sleeping dogs lie but McQuaid wants her involved. Then Miles is murdered and China is determined to find out who did it, why they did it, and why now after all these years?

More Susan Wittig Albert:
China Bayles:
* Spanish Dagger
* China Bayles' Book of Days(Non-fiction)

Beatrix Potter:
* The Tale of Hill Top Farm
* The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood
* The Tale of Holly How
* The Tale of Hawthorn House

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.

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