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Spanish Dagger (China Bayles Series #15)

Spanish Dagger (China Bayles Series #15)

4.8 13
by Susan Wittig Albert

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While harvesting yucca plants to make paper, China Bayles finds a body-cause of death: unknown. It seems that the simple lives of many residents of Pecan Springs hide complex and dangerous pasts. And now, while also unraveling secrets that hit close to home, China must set the record straight- and find a killer.


While harvesting yucca plants to make paper, China Bayles finds a body-cause of death: unknown. It seems that the simple lives of many residents of Pecan Springs hide complex and dangerous pasts. And now, while also unraveling secrets that hit close to home, China must set the record straight- and find a killer.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Violent crime and long-buried intrigue disrupt the peace of Pecan Springs, Tex., home of herb shop owner China Bayles, in the piquant 16th entry in Albert's southwestern cozy series (after 2006's Bleeding Hearts). China's pleasant routines are first disrupted by the travails of her business partner, Ruby, who's apparently been stood up by her unreliable boyfriend, an ex-narc. Then China's recently discovered half brother, Miles Danforth, an attorney, insists on reopening the ice-cold case of their father's death in a car accident 16 years earlier. Miles has uncovered correspondence that their father feared for his life before he died, and recruits the help of China's husband, Mike McQuaid, a former Houston homicide detective turned PI. But China faces a much warmer corpse when she and her friend Carole discover a bloody body by the railroad tracks where they go to gather yucca. Albert's fans will savor recipes such as Texas tarragon vinegar and lemon-mint tea concentrate, plus botanical trivia. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
While in search of yucca leaves, herbalist China Bayles unearths a body and personal secrets in her 15th outing. Albert lives in Texas. Author tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An herbalist and a Rottweiler solve a series of crimes. While picking yucca leaves for a papermaking workshop, China Bayles, herbalist, businesswoman and lawyer, discovers the body of Colin Fowler, local business owner, possible undercover cop and former love of China's best friend, Ruby Wilcox. Ruby, who's off in Fredericksburg moving her demented mother to assisted living, begs China to look into the death and take care of Colin's Rottweiler. Everywhere China goes, she crosses the path of a big blond guy whose looks mark him as a cop. Her pal, the police chief, warns China off, but all the clues seem to come her way. With her ex-cop p.i. husband out of town working on a cold case for her half-brother, involving the death of her father, China feels free to take chances with the blond guy, who may be a member of a regional Drug Task Force, a group with a bad reputation when it comes to corruption. He's hunting for drugs, and he claims Colin was dealing. Colin had recently received calls from Lucita, bookkeeper at nearby Sonoma Nursery, presumably about some potted plants in Colin's yard. But when Lucita is the next victim and Rambo the Rottweiler sniffs out cocaine in the pots, China realizes she may be in big trouble. Albert's 16th (after Bleeding Hearts, 2006, etc.) complements the obligatory herbal lore and recipes with one of her best mysteries to date.
From the Publisher
"A leader among female sleuths." — Publishers Weekly  "Combines a fast-moving plot with the botanical lore and recipes that her readers have come to expect. Solid entertainment." -BOOKLIST

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
China Bayles Series , #15
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
759 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A leader among female sleuths." -- Publishers Weekly "Combines a fast-moving plot with the botanical lore and recipes that her readers have come to expect. Solid entertainment." -BOOKLIST

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Danville, Illinois
Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley

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Spanish Dagger (China Bayles Series #15) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JUST-JUDI More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book and will read more by this author. It is not what i would call action packed but there is enough going on to hold your interest and make you turn the page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first China Bayles I read, and it fulfilled every expectation I have for a great mystery novel: good characters memorable setting and atmosphere and a serious plot that engages the reader all the way through. You will also learn a lot about yucca as you try to figure out the connections between Ruby, her (ex) boyfriend, Lucita, Sheila and drugs, police corruption and murder. There is also an intriguing subplot taking us through China's complicated relationship with her mother/father/half-brother. You will love the people of Pecan Springs and Texas hill country. Ms. Albert is one of those rare writers who crafts her series books to work as stand-alone novels, and this book worked just fine as a stand-alone. I loved it enough to want to return to Pecan Springs again and again. I'm a big fan of Ms. Albert's 'Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter,' and am now equally enthusiastic about the China Bayles series. Let's hope there are many, many more books to come from this talented writer. This is a very good way to spend $7.99, and way more satisfying than what's playing at the box office!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The China Bayles series is alive and well, to the delight of this fan. Susan Wittig Albert always offers the reader a beautifully crafted story along with a wealth of information about plants. The little world of Pecan Springs is a home away from home. Ms. Albert sets herself a challenge, which she acknowledges in the Note to the Reader at the beginning of SPANISH DAGGER, by interweaving and overlapping the stories in the series. This challenge is compounded by the first person narrative, but nothing could be more effective than the way in which China Bayles fills the reader in on the backstory. This is often a weak area in a series, but beautifully done in SPANISH DAGGER, as in all the China Bayles mysteries. A first-time reader will be effortlessly acquainted with the main characters and the continuing plots. China's investigative pursuits are woven into the story quite plausibly, another challenge with amateur sleuths. While it's true that the reader has to suspend incredulity at so many murder victims falling at China's feet, Ms. Albert somehow makes it easy. The everyday doings of Pecan Springs form a backdrop to the complex and sometimes hidden relationships that reach from the shop owner next door (Ruby Wilcox) outward to the police chief (Sheila Dawson) and beyond to big-city police and agency corruption. The social issues threaded into the story are clearly there to further the story -- from drug running to a parent's dementia to gossiping townspeople. All part of the package in Pecan Springs! China Bayles and the other main characters are well-rounded and continue to evolve, with the secondary players also springing to life. Characterization is one of the strong suits of this series. It's hard to go wrong with a few pets, too, and the Rotti Rambo is a worthy companion to the squirrel-chasing basset hound Howard Cosell, and the seventeen-pound Khat on whose clock 'it's always five minutes past time to eat.' Anyone familiar with Susan Wittig Albert's work knows that she treats her craft and the reader with great respect. I recommend SPANISH DAGGER as another example of a great read from this versatile author.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
If you like comfortable, home spun mysteries (No, that's not a contradiction in terms), Susan Wittig Albert is the author for you. She laces her China Bayles series with little known facts about plants and herbs as well as recipes. One has such a warm feeling when reading this book that it's easy to forget China has stumbled across a very dead body and a killer is on the loose. Ms. Albert's fans will remember China leads a busy life - she has an herb shop, a catering business and oversees a weekend paper-making class. What do you need to make paper? Yucca, of course, and it's among those plants that she finds the body. While this would stun most, China has been around. As she says, 'I was a criminal attorney in Houston before I moved to Pecan Springs, single, on the scary cliff of forty and desperately soulweary......' Now that she's married to a retired private investigator and has so many irons in the fire her body is the part of her that's weary. As Albert's readers know, China will find out who dun it and why. Subplots include her half-brother wanting to revisit the circumstances of their father's death, and best pal Ruby dealing with a difficult, albeit ill, mother. Descriptions of local vistas and small town goings-on add to the Southwestern flavor of 'Spanish Dagger' (which, I've learned, is a folk name for a rather large yucca plant. Actually, I've learned quite a bit more about said plant, but that's Ms. Albert for you!) Enjoy! - Gail Cooke
harstan More than 1 year ago
Between running her shop Thymes and Seasons, Thyme Cottage, and her partnering with Ruby Wilcox for Thyme for Tea and Party Thyme, China Bayles has no thyme make that time for herself. She is there for her friend Ruby who just broke up with her lover Collin, owner of an environmental friendly store. She doesn¿t tell Ruby that he¿s an undercover cop who got busted when he told a two level dealer that he was about to be busted. She is also adjusting to the fact that she has a half-brother, Miles Danforth who believes his and China¿s father was murdered in what was supposed to be an accidental car crash.------------ China¿s husband, now a private investigator, takes the case and heads out of town to do some investigating. When she finally gets a moment to breathe, she and a friend go to railroad tracks to pick yucca leaves but find the knifed body of Collin. Ruby is in Fredericksburg trying to get her senile mother into an assisted loving facility and asks China to investigate. With key in hand China goes into Collin¿s store where she gets the numbers of Lucita who called Collin on unexplained business. When China goes to the nursery where Lucita works, she finds Lucita¿s dead body with her throat cut. Something rotten is going on in Pecan Springs, Texas and China vows to stop it with the help of a drug sniffing rottweiler.---------------- Susan Wittig Albert has written another excellent China Bayles mystery that is filled danger, action and intrigue. The mysterious stranger who is in town is either the cause or the one who intends to stop it. However he has never dealt with the heroine or Smart Cookie aka the Chief of Police. Readers will enjoy learning about China¿s past family life and hope that the answer about her father will be found in the next book in this delightful series.------------------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She quickly changed, stalking out of the room.
ninjamom More than 1 year ago
The China Bayles series is definitely one of my all time favorites. I enjoy the unique plots and characters the author comes up with. I am also a fan of gardening so this series really caters to people like me with all the plant history and facts. This one actually has an unexpected ending. I thought it was somebody else entirely who did it.
SummerSB More than 1 year ago
This book was an easy read. The characters were all described in detail and the plot held my interest. The author's writing style was to the point and enjoyable.
bookloverRP More than 1 year ago
First China Bayles mystery i've read and really liked it. Now I want to go back and read them all. The plot was interesting and current. The main characters were well rounded and likeable, even the slightly wacky ones. I liked the setting (Texas) and learned more about herbs and also plants native to the southwest. The recipes look good too. I always consider it a bonus when I learn something while reading for pleasure.