BLOODROOT: A China Bayles Mystery

Susan Wittig Albert, Author . Berkley Prime Crime $22.95 (304p) ISBN 0-425-18190-1

China Bayles, former big-city lawyer, is snug and happy in a small town in the Texas hill country, with a new husband and stepson, two successful herb businesses and a string of solved murders to her credit (Chile Death; Lavender Lies; etc.). Now, the latest in the popular series takes her into completely new territory, both geographically and emotionally. It is a major departure for Albert, for China and for readers, many of whom will keenly miss the familiar charms of Pecan Springs, Tex., and two characters they have come to love: China's sexy husband and her quirky friend, Ruby. Or not, since in their place Albert has created captivating new characters and a setting dripping with atmosphere. When her mother sends a desperate plea for help, China abruptly sets off for the family homestead in Mississippi. In a trice she becomes embroiled in three daunting contemporary problems (a life-threatening illness, a legal threat to the family property and a possible murder) that have mysterious links to past secrets and lies; China cannot solve today's dilemmas until she untangles the past. Family ghosts abound. Five generations of three families—plantation owners, plantation managers and slaves—walked the halls of the Big House. Representatives of the present generation meet there as equals, but echoes of the earlier class system haunt them all. What in lesser hands could have become a caricature of a family saga is saved by Albert's clear love of her subject matter, smooth styling and rich marbling of past and present. (Oct. 9)

Reviewed on: 09/24/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
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