Widow's Tears (China Bayles Series #21)

( 27 )

Overview


Herbalist and ex-lawyer China Bayles is “in a class with lady sleuths V. I. Warshawski and Stephanie Plum” (Publishers Weekly).  In Widow’s Tears, a haunted house may hold the key to solving the murder of one of China’s friends…

After losing her family and home in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, Rachel Blackwood rebuilt her house a hundred miles inland and later died there, still wrapped in her grief.

In present-day Texas, Claire, the ...

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Widow's Tears (China Bayles Series #21)

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Overview


Herbalist and ex-lawyer China Bayles is “in a class with lady sleuths V. I. Warshawski and Stephanie Plum” (Publishers Weekly).  In Widow’s Tears, a haunted house may hold the key to solving the murder of one of China’s friends…

After losing her family and home in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, Rachel Blackwood rebuilt her house a hundred miles inland and later died there, still wrapped in her grief.

In present-day Texas, Claire, the grandniece of Rachel’s caretaker, has inherited the house and wants to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast. But she is concerned that it’s haunted, so she calls in her friend Ruby—who has the gift of extrasensory perception—to check it out.

While Ruby is ghost hunting, China Bayles walks into a storm of trouble in nearby Pecan Springs. A half hour before she is to make her nightly deposit, the Pecan Springs bank is robbed and a teller is shot and killed.

Before she can discover the identity of the killers, China follows Ruby to the Blackwood house to discuss urgent business. As she is drawn into the mystery of the haunted house, China opens the door on some very real danger…

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The bond between China Bayles and her boon friend and business partner, Ruby Wilcox, suffers in Albert’s enjoyable 21st cozy featuring the Pecan Springs, Tex., ex-lawyer and herbalist (after 2012’s Cat’s Claw). Unfolding along with the present-day story is the tragic tale of the horrific Galveston hurricane of 1900 and its impact on Rachel Blackwood; her husband, a bank vice-president; and their five children. Ruby answers a plea for help from old friend Claire Conway, who has inherited the Blackwood family mansion in the tiny town of Round Top. Unnatural occurrences, including ghost sightings, are frustrating Claire’s plans to turn the old place into a B&B. While Claire and Ruby wrestle with spirits, China must deal with Ruby’s pushy sister, Ramona, who’s offering to buy Ruby out completely, a prospect that sends China running to Round Top. As for plant lore, this installment focuses on florigraphy—the language of flowers. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425255728
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/2/2013
  • Series: China Bayles Series , #21
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 736,963
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert grew up on a farm in Illinois and earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. A former professor of English and a university administrator and vice president, she is the author of the China Bayles Mysteries, the Darling Dahlias Mysteries, and the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. Some of her recent titles include Widow’s Tears, Cat’s Claw, The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose, and The Tale of Castle Cottage. She and her husband, Bill, coauthor a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries under the name Robin Paige, which includes such titles as Death at Glamis Castle and Death at Whitechapel.

Biography

Susan Wittig Albert grew up on a farm in Illinois and earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. A former professor of English and a university administrator and vice president, she now lives with her husband, Bill, in the country outside of Austin, Texas. In addition to the China Bayles mysteries, she writes the Victorian Mysteries series, along with her husband, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Books, LTD.

Good To Know

In our exclusive interview with Albert, she revealed some fun facts about herself:

"My first job was selling ladies' undies at Woolworth's for 35 cents an hour in Danville, Illinois."

I learned to garden from my mother, who thought that the most important thing you did every spring was to plant the potatoes. I learned to read from my father, who never planted a potato in his life. Somehow, I managed to create a life and make a living between these two extremes. Happily, I haven't had to go back to selling undies. Not yet, anyway."

"I love living in the country with Bill, two black Labs, and a black cat. I'd rather read a book or write one than do just about anything else in the world, except maybe for gardening and sitting in a bathtub full of hot, hot water and bubbles. Or knitting, spinning, weaving, dyeing -- I'm a fiber-arts fanatic."

"You can find out what I'm doing today (or what I did yesterday) by checking out my web log, at susanalbert.typepad.com/lifescapes (but there's no web cam, so don't look for me in the bathtub)."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Robin Paige
    1. Date of Birth:
      1940
    2. Place of Birth:
      Danville, Illinois
    1. Education:
      Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Widow'a Tears

    When I began reading and learned that this one centered around Ruby and not China, I was disappointed. But, not for long. Ms.Albert did a wonderful job of including China and at the same time making the story about Ruby. Also, I am a fan of paranormal stories. For her first try at paranormal (as far as I know) this is a great work. I feel one reason it worked so well is the story centered around Ruby and her psyhic abilities. It is a very good read. I am looking forward to the next book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2013

    I recommend it for anyone who likes cozies

    This is a little different venue for China, and Ruby. If you have read Albert's series about China Bayles, you certainly know these two. If you haven't I highly recommend you read them all. I don't usually like books about the paranormal, but this one was a little different. The detail about the hurricane in Galveston, was amazing, to me, that was almost, the best part of the story. As always, Albert gives us a good story, and some information about herbs, this time she adds historical information. I have read all her series, they are all superb. She is one of my favorite writers. Hope she lets us visit with China a long, long time.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A great series about women and herbs!

    Albert's books in all series are very entertaining but the herb books are often educational as well. This one informs the reader about the devastating hurricane of 1900 in Galveston Texas....and is a thriller beyond compare if you have ever gone through a storm like this!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2013

    The Best in the Series!

    I have read all 21 of the books in this series, and this to me, was the best. Its focus is on Ruby and her "psychic" powers. She helps her friend, who inherited a haunted house, and a parallel story during the 1908 Galveston, TX hurricane.
    The common link is a spirit present in the house, who has ties to the disaster.
    It was great to read a story detailing more of Ruby's life.

    Well done, Ms. Albert!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    Widow's Tears

    A great new twist from the usual China Bayles sleuthing. The well-told story of the Blackwood family and the resulting tragedy makes the reader's heart break. Love the way it is tied to the present, from Ruby and China's very different perspectives. My only complaint...I read it too fast. Can't wait for the next story!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2013

    A Great Ghost Story!

    China takes a back seat to Ruby in this tale that focuses on the Galveston Hurricaine of 1900. The ghost of a woman whose family was washed away in the hurricaine has taken up residence in a home modeled after the one that was lost in the storm. Ruby's childhood friend has inherited the home and hopes to make it into a Bed and Breakfast, but must first quiet the ghost. She asks for Ruby's help because Ruby saw the ghost many years ago.

    If you've read other books in the China Bayles series you may be surprised to find that this time murder is secondary to ghost hunting. Susan Wittig Albert has thoroughly researched the Galveston storm and realistically recreated the storm scenario so that you almost see the Galveston residents as they cling to their hopes and later to pieces of lumber to keep them adrift in the ensuing flood. The illusion of Rachel, the ghost, is so realistic you want to believe that ghosts do exist.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    This is Ruby's story, no doubt about it. I'n bit about to give t

    This is Ruby's story, no doubt about it. I'n bit about to give the story away. Just know that it is one of Susan's best - and yes, China is in this one as well. I was fascinated by the story and read the book in two nights. Buy it, you won't be sorry you did.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2013

    Susan Wittig Albert masterfully entwines 3 stories into one memo

    Susan Wittig Albert masterfully entwines 3 stories into one memorable novel. Ruby takes center stage in this China Bayles mystery. Still grieving for her lost love, Ruby is feeling tired on the way to burned out. So when an old childhood friend calls her desperate for help to rid her inherited Victorian mansion of its resident ghost, Ruby is inclined to say yes to a trip to the Fayette County about two hours away. China encourages her to go. Ramona, Ruby’s sister, puts her own spin on Ruby’s noncommittal reply to an offer to buy the Crystal Cave and Ruby’s entire share of her and China's joint businesses when she feels China out about the buy-out. China decides to take a trip to ask Ruby about it in person, but on her way, she discovers that the Pecan Springs Ranchers State Bank was robbed and a friend killed. The perpetrators wore masks, but they drove away in a Ford pick-up truck with a distinctive Protected by AK-47 sign on the window. The novel takes less than a week in time, but a lot of the story is told through the memories of Rachel Blackwell, the ghost, who survived the devastating Galveston hurricane in 1903. Rachel and her family are fictional, but the authenticity of Rachel and the narrator’s voices reveal the depth of Ms. Albert’s research. Widow’s Tears is a story well told of loss, grief, and choices that links past with present and brings Ruby to an understanding and acceptance of her psychic gift and the nature of life, death, love, and grief.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2013

    Widow's Tears is the 21st book in the China Bayles series. And s

    Widow's Tears is the 21st book in the China Bayles series. And still loving the series.

    One of the reasons that I like this series, is that Albert provides the reader with interesting little snippets about the herb that is featured in the title of her books. Quite often China will comment, too, within the story itself.

    Widow's Tears is a two part book and China pretty much gets a little time off. Ruby owns the Crystal Cave, which is located in the same home that China's Thyme and Season is located and takes the spotlight in this book.

    Alternating chapters take the reader back to 1900 in Galveston, TX as the storm that was to devastate Galveston so terribly, is approaching. The story center around a family as Rachel and Augustus Blackwood and their five children, nurse and housekeeper. They thought they would be safe from the storm.

    Back to the present day, Ruby has received a call from a girlhood friend, Claire. Claire has inherited the Blackwood Mansion in Round top, TX, from her great Aunt. Claire is asking Ruby to come and help her to get rid of the ghosts that have taken up residence. Claire would like to get the house on the Historic Register and turn it into a B&B, but she needs to get rid of the ghosts first.

    Ruby has some psychic abilities and has dabbled with them, but has never fined tune them. Once she arrives, she almost leaves as the groundskeeper is a bit creepy. Once Ruby meets his wife, she also finds out he has a violent nature. Add to this the fact that her car's battery becomes drained for no reason, no cell phone service, puddles of water turn up when they're in a drought, and other super natural occurences, Ruby is not so sure this beyond her capabilities.

    China has a very important business matter to discuss with Ruby and what with not being able to get in touch with her, heads for Round Top. Once there she sees what Ruby is up against and ehlps Ruby get an understanding and provides her with the confidence to deal with the ghosts.

    Looking forward to the next book in the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2014

    liked it a lot

    a little surreal but worth the read. This author cannot turnout books fast enough for me.'Like her research into herbs and really learn a lot.
    Plan to start reading the books she writes with her husband.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2014

    Widows Tears

    Another fabulous China Bayles and Ruby story. Looking forward to more of their escpades!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2014

    China and Ruby - What a Team!

    Yes this is a part.of the China Bayles series but most of the focus was on Ruby. The author dida great job blending Galveston's history in the story. It was especially interesting how shewove in Ruby's special talent to thestory.

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  • Posted April 13, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Captivating Story

    When picking up a China Bayles mystery by author Susan Witting Albert, I expect murder, mystery, mayhem and of course, herbs. With WIDOW’S TEARS, Albert combines all my favorite elements with fascinating historical data about the deadly hurricane of 1900 that changed the course of Galveston, Texas. In addition, Albert focuses the story not on her protagonist, China Bayles, but on China’s best friend, Ruby Wilcox. China is still very much a part of the story, but just not as prominent. Ruby’s childhood friend Claire has inherited the Blackwood House and plans to open a B&B. However, the house appears to be haunted and Claire needs Ruby and her special gift to set things right. The story gives readers a look at the present, along with the past and how the house came to be with its mysteries and grief. As always herbs are involved and Albert uses the Victorian ‘language of flowers’ to help tell the story. Readers are also given delicious recipes to accompany the story and where to find additional information on the Galveston hurricane. Albert’s characters are well-developed and likable. She continues to evolve them with each new installment giving readers a better understanding of them and their interaction with one another. Changing the focus of the story to Ruby gives the characters a broader base to expand on in future adventures. The story flows at a quick pace holding you attention until the very end. WIDOW’S TEARS is a bit of a change for the China Bayles series, but in a good way that opens new possibilities. Another captivating installment in a riveting series. FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

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  • Posted April 2, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The twenty-first book in the China Bayles series by Susan Wittig

    The twenty-first book in the China Bayles series by Susan Wittig Albert is a departure from the norm that readers have come to expect from this series. Widow's Tears takes readers outside the small town of Pecan Springs and focuses on another character other than China as the lead. China's friend Ruby takes center stage, as her paranormal abilities are needed by a friend who thinks she has a haunted house on her hands. China ends up in the middle of a bank robbery and fans are treated to a tale with many layers and complex threads. A great addition to a long lived series!

    What I liked:

    As usual with any Susan Wittig Albert novel, the research was phenomenal. This author always does her homework and in this addition to the series, she gives readers a lot of historical background on the city of Galveston and the devastating hurricane of 1900. I thought Albert did a fantastic job of weaving in the historical details into the story without letting the history take over the mystery. Albert uses a deft hand and turns out a mystery that will have readers wanting to know more about the hurricane and it's deadly effects on the town while still being glued to every clue that Ruby and China turn up.

    I liked the fact that Albert is taking readers out of their comfort zone with this series. I think it is important especially for a long running series like this one, to have some variety and change and Albert seems to sense that as well. Taking the mystery outside of Pecan Springs, gives Widows Tears a fresh and original premise that readers haven't seen for awhile in this series. It also provides a wider range of outcomes because there are only so many places to find dead bodies in a small town. 

    I also enjoyed learning more about Ruby and her extra sensory abilities. Readers who are familiar with the series, know that Ruby has used her gift to help China out from time to time and now another friend, Claire needs her help in solving her own ghostly issues. I loved learning more about Ruby along the way as well. How she got her abilities, how she felt about them, etc. It was nice to see another character kind of take over the starring role. Don't get me wrong, China is amazing, but this was a nice break from the routine of the series. I thought Albert did a great job of letting Ruby take the lead and using China as the sidekick this time. It really added to the enjoyment of the book seeing her in a different role.

    I loved all of the information that Albert gives readers about Florigraphy as well. The language of flowers is both interesting and full of little known facts about herbs and flowers that I find incredibly entertaining. I think readers will enjoy finding out some of the meanings in the back of the book and trying out some of those great recipes as well.

    What I didn't like:

    I wasn't sure how the story of the bank robbery and murder were going to tie in with the haunted house in the beginning and I was scratching my head a little bit, but I shouldn't have worried, Albert always ties up the loose ends and brings everything together. 

    Bottom Line:

    If you are fan of Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles series, this one might be a surprise, but in a good way. I liked the change of viewpoint, and setting. I think it added a refreshing originality to this installment of the series and I think it is one of the best so far. You gotta read it!

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  • Posted July 24, 2013

    One of her best!

    I thought the play between the past and the present was excellent. The description of the family waiting to celebrate a birthday and the changing weather sent chills through me and tears down my cheeks. I'm so glad that Susan chose to remind us of long ago disasters with such poignancy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2013

    A Thousand Tears~~~ chapter 1~ by krazycatgirl

    Morrow had remembered that horrible day when her mother and father had been killed by that shadow thing. Se calls it the Shadow beast. Morrows black fur shined in the afternoon sunlight leaking through the emrald leaves. Dappled shadows danced on the lush undergrowth when a breeze swept over the landscape of an endless sea of green life and a rush of colored wildlife. She padded on, determined to reach the place her dying mothers last words had sent into her head. Morrow must travel to the Island of a Thousand Tears. She had leaned since she was a small kit that it was a place of miracles and madness. It was where the forest touched starclan. Most cats never came out alive; they're bodies didnt even appear.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2013

    As always, the story is masterfully written, but it is absolutel

    As always, the story is masterfully written, but it is absolutely wrenching. I gave it 4 out of 5 not because the writing wasn't excellent, but because it's not a "fun," typical cozy. I've read almost all of her books, and they seem to be getting darker. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but it's not something I look for in an escapist cozy. If you have children, be warned: Widow's Tears will make you shed a few. 

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  • Posted July 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This is the most current book in the China Bayles series. I was


    This is the most current book in the China Bayles series. I was very pleased to get a deeper look into Ruby,
    China's best friend. There had always been hints about Ruby's physic abilities, but in Widow's Tears,
    Ruby gets the chance to show us and China just how far she can go. I loved that Ms Albert blended a real life
    event into this mystery. I felt as if I were part of that terrible storm so many years ago, which is one of the
     reasons that I am such a big fan of Ms. Albert. She always grabs me from the first page and won't let go
     until the very end. Please, do yourself a favor and read the great book. I don't think that you will regret it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013

    BIOS

    Name:Medusa Species:Gorgon Age:Dont ask Looks:Human Form)5ft.6in. Looks about 20 wears usally all black. Snake Form)Half women half snake has the snake tail of a python. Has green eyes and pythons for hair. Powers:Can freeze people by looking at them in the eyes and can move very fast. Kin:Eurayle(Sister) and Stheno(Sister) Home:A cave
    Name/Eurayle Species/Gorgon Age/Dont ask again Looks/Human Form)5ft.6in. Looks about 20 wears usally all black Snake Form)Half women half snake has the snake tail of a sea snake. Has blue eyes and sea snakes for hair Powers/Can freeze people when looked at in the eye. Can swim at amazing speed. Kin/Stheno and Medusa Home:Any type of water but mainly salt water
    Name‡Stheno Species‡Gorgon Age‡Why do I even put this Looks‡Human Form)Like her other sisters Snake Form)Half women half snake has the snake tail of an Adder. Has brown eyes and hair of adders Powers‡Can freeze people when they look into her eyes. Can glide through the air with her arms similar to a flying squirrel. Kin‡Medusa and Eurayle Home‡In any forest.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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