China Bayles is the mystery series authored by Susan Wittig Albert, an American author. Bayles is a lawyer who opts for a simpler, more tranquil life. She prefers to run a herbal shop in a small town. As fate would have it, she finds herself investigating murder cases. Interesting enough, she finds that her passion for herbs comes in handy coupled with her natural abilities of reason and deduction. Her background as a lawyer becomes vital too.
Order of China Bayles Series
|1||Thyme of Death||1992|
|6||Love Lies Bleeding||1997|
|12||Dilly of a Death||2004|
|13||Dead Man's Bones||2005|
|21||Death Come Quickly||2014|
|24||The Last Chance Olive Ranch||2017|
The entire series is made up of 25 books. The author has also penned 3 books which are a collection based on the stories in the series, and other extras like recipes, herbs, essays written by Albert, and publications by other authors. The first book in the China Bayles series is “Thyme of Death”, published in 1992.
Albert writes under various pen-names. She is the author of the Nancy Drew series, where she writes as Carolyn Keene. She also writes as Robin Paige. Before becoming a full-time novelist, she was a professor of English and an administrator. She is now a renowned and highly regarded New York bestselling author.
Susan Wittig Albert’s Awards
The first novel in the China Bayles series was nominated for two awards: Agatha and Anthony (1992 and 1993 respectively). Both times, it was nominated in the Best First Novel category.
Best Susan Wittig Albert Books
It is quite difficult to say which one of Albert’s books is the best in the series since her story telling ability is simply enthralling. These two books, however, seem to have captivated most of her readers: “Widow’s Tears” and “Bittersweet”. Let’s delve more into them below:
Widow’s Tears: “Widow’s Tears” is the twenty-first book in the China Bayles series. This story follows Ruby Wilcox, who is not only China’s business partner, but she is also her best friend. Ruby has a childhood friend, Claire, who has not achieved much in life. When she finally gets out of rehab, it is time for a makeover. She had inherited a house from her grandmother. She decides to convert it into a bed and breakfast.
Unusual signs: the random ringing of bells, banging pans are a clear indication of something sinister – a haunted house. Ruby saw the ghost when visiting Claire when they were children. Ruby’s knowledge of Ouija boards and tarot cards will come in handy since she runs the only shop in Pecan Springs that deals with these devices that have to do with the spirit world.
Ruby has always hesitated to explore her psychic side. But this is the only chance to help her friend Claire. The ghost is Rachel Blackwood who lived through one of the biggest hurricanes in the twentieth century (but only the reader knows it).
Ruby is busy ghost hunting. China has to investigate a murder and robbery in a bank and Pecan Springs. Before she can resolve the crime, she goes to see Ruby at the haunted house. China opens the door to real danger.
Bittersweet: This is the twenty-third book in the China Bayles series. Two brothers are illegally importing white-tailed-deer into the family land. They want to turn it into a trophy game ranch. Worse still, they are using a plane with an expired license.
In the meantime, China is planning to spend Thanksgiving with loved ones. She wants to visit her mother and her mother’s husband, Sam. She also wants to catch up with Mackenzie “Mack” Chambers, a friend who is a game warden. Just before Thanksgiving, she receives the news that Sam has just had a heart attack.
Leatha has someone to help as Sam recuperates. Her name is Sue Ellen. She is leaving her husband who is an assistant foreman at a trophy game ranch. Ellen dies in a car crash, even before China gets to know her story. A local vet is shot. Mack believes that the murder has to do with some fawns that were stolen from a ranch in the area. Could Ellen’s murder be related to the other murder or the stolen fawns? China and Mack find themselves amidst the world of animal rights, drone surveillance and big-game ranching as they try to resolve the murders. They also get to know each other better and find themselves.
Other book series you may like
Susan Wittig Albert undoubtedly knows how to tell a thrilling story full of twists and turns. “The Mind Dimensions” series by Dima Zales and Anna Zaires is an equally good series. It features Darren, a genius who discovers that he has an unusual ability: freezing time. Another good option is the “Emily Castle” series by Helen Smith. This series follows the lives of Emily Castles, an amateur sleuth who is only twenty-six, and her professor, Dr. Muriel Crowther.