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Cat's Claw: A Pecan Springs Mystery
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Cat's Claw (China Bayles Book 20) [Kindle Edition]

Susan Wittig Albert
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

As the first female police chief in Pecan Springs, Texas, Sheila Dawson has cracked many a mystery in collaboration with local sleuth China Bayles. Now Sheila puts her smarts to work, sifting through secrets to find a killer on the prowl…

Larry Kirk, Pecan Springs’ computer guru, has been shot dead in his kitchen. At first Sheila believes it to be suicide, but further investigation reveals that Kirk’s death wasn’t self-inflicted. And the truth is reinforced by her friend China Bayles’ news—Larry recently asked her for legal advice in regards to a stalker.

As a police chief in a male-dominated force, Sheila meets many challenges, especially when her theories rock the boat in high-profile cases like that of George Timms, who was caught breaking into Larry’s shop. Now that Larry is dead, Sheila is sure the burglary is connected to the murder. But when Timms disappears instead of turning himself in, Sheila must prove she’s got what it takes to hunt down a predator who’s loose on the streets of Pecan Springs…

Editorial Reviews


Cat’s Claw is exactly what Susan Wittig Albert’s fans look for in her books.” —Cozy Library

“Albert handles the dual voices smoothly as the combined talents of China and Sheila blend to reveal multiple crimes hidden beneath the peaceful facade of Pecan Springs.”—Publishers Weekly

“The investigation is superb as Dawson shows she can handle the lead spotlight.” —Genre Go Round Reviews

“Readers will enjoy the small-town atmosphere, the herbal lore and recipes, and the well-crafted puzzle in this mystery featuring two strong women.” —Booklist

About 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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 415 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0425245276
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reissue edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,905 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different Character Focus March 6, 2012
I'm a long-time fan of the China Bayles series by Albert and while she is still featured in this new series, the focus is on Sheila Dawson as she navigates her role as the new police chief amidst a murder investigation. She is a strong character, so it works to have the series shift to her while maintaining China's presence.

Even though I guessed who the killer was before it was revealed, the story kept me interested as the details of motive and possible accomplices were worked out in the end. It was easy to read in a weekend while still having the kind of substantial storyline I've come to expect from the author. As always, the herbal facts sprinkled into the storyline were interesting.

I think a spin-off series highlighting other characters from the China Bayles mysteries will work and I look forward to reading the next one.

I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher but the opinion of it is my own and was not solicited, nor was a positive review required.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Point of View is a Winner! March 11, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This current novel in the wonderful series of Pecan Springs Mysteries is set from the viewpoint of Police Chief Sheila Dawson. To me, this was an excellent change in writing direction. China Bayles is still very prominent, as she would be, being Sheila's friend. Now, we can have a wider range of stories from the wonderful mind of Ms. Wittig Albert.

A Pecan Springs resident has committed suicide...or has he? Police Chief Dawson uses this case to get back in the field for a bit. What she begins to see, along with a new character, Jack Bartlett, of the PSPD, is a far more complex crime than the ladies of the Texas Star Quilting Club suspects!

I truly enjoyed this novel and am hooked on the change of viewpoints.

Now to wait for the next adventure.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars cat's claw May 9, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
All of her Texas fiction is good, but this one was not as good as her others. This one, even though it was supposedly a more in-depth character study of the female sheriff, actually seemed to be skimming over the surface of her personality. Ms. Albert, please go back to your lawyer-turned-entreperneur as protagonist.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars super Mystery March 6, 2012
Recently married to former Adams County sheriff Blackie Blackwell, Pecan Springs, Texas Police Chief Sheila Dawson initially assumes computer expert Larry Kirk committed suicide; most likely caused by his recent divorce. Being a good female cop in a testosterone department that acts catty towards her, Sheila analyzes the crime scene and soon concludes a homicide occurred. Her friend, herbalist entrepreneur China Bayles informs the chief that Larry recently asked her, as a former attorney, for legal advice as he claimed he was being stalked.

Sheila arrests George Timms for breaking and entering Kirk's computer store. He insists he was only taking back his computer, which contains personal information that he does not want leaked. Some Town Council members attack her competency, but though aware of their pettiness, she continues her investigation as she thinks Timms' B&E is related directly to the murder. Adding to the mess is Timms fails to turn himself in; instead he has vanished.

The key to this super Pecan Springs Mystery (see Mourning Gloria) is that Dawson is the chief protagonist while Bayles plays a support role. This brings freshness as the police chief knows that no matter how well she has performed, she can never coast on her laurels as her constant male critics require her to prove herself over and over again. The investigation is superb as Dawson shows she can handle the lead spotlight.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a cozy mystery June 9, 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've loved most of Susan Wittig Albert's herbal mysteries and looked forward to this new book where the focus changes from the character of China Bayles to her police chief friend, Sheila Dawson. And through the first part of the book I was quite satisfied - the same town, characters and good writing I'd come to depend on. But then a killing occurs that is shocking, bloody, grisly and brutal. Sure, this is a murder mystery, but usually the violence is softened and just enough to further the plot. This level of graphic violence I find neither entertaining nor necessary. I hope this is not a trend to be continued in the future books of this series. It makes this reader extremely uncomfortable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My Least Favorite of the Series March 10, 2013
I have taken such (guilty) pleasure in reading the books in this series and look forward to each new installment. This book, however, was a disappointment. I thought the focus on the character of Shelia Dawson and her incredible beauty, overt femininity and haute couture style in the rough and tumble male world of police work, was over the top and in the end pretty tiresome. The character of China, who is much more interesting, does not play into the storyline very much, which detracts from the book. The narrative just didn't grab me, and, as one other reviewer said, I found myself waiting for the story to end. After it did, I felt like I'd made a wasted trip to "Pecan Springs." With as many books as Albert has written for the series, this was bound to happen, but I have hope she will bounce back and the next one will be as satisfying as all her others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I have read by this author! July 13, 2012
I just finished reading this book today, and I am convinced that "Cat's Claw" by Susan Wittig Albert is the very best book she has written to date! I thoroughly enjoyed it, much more than her other books. I would thoroughly recommend it. Hope she gets this kind of result with her next books! It was very well written, and it certainly kept my interest to the end.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love China Bayles stories so this was great.
Published 1 month ago by Theresa Travelute
5.0 out of 5 stars I do enjoy the China Bayles series
I do enjoy the China Bayles series. It is amazing that Susan Wittig Albert continues to write a fresh tale each time.
Published 1 month ago by Paula
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my favorite authors.
Published 2 months ago by Connie Bobbitt
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy this author
Looking forward to this. Enjoy this author.
Published 3 months ago by Nancy Pulsipher
5.0 out of 5 stars Among my favorites
Have read all the "herb" books and look forward to the next. I've learned so much about herbs and their uses. Knowing about herbs and their uses can be quite helpful.
Published 3 months ago by Mary Lee Webb
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by Susan R. Warneck
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read, Albert puts knowledge of herbs and plants to good use and writes a well paced mystery.
Published 5 months ago by Rockkeeper
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you so much now I have all the books ...
Thank you so much now I have all the books in this series and am able to read them all in order, I'm thrilled!
Published 5 months ago by Stephanie Darrow
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
I always love Susan Wittig Albert's wonderful, well written books. The people of Pecan Springs have become my friends. I am waiting for another book.
Published 5 months ago by Dummyduk
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm a fan of Susan's
Another good mystery with the addition of herbs and ideas for cooking new
foods. I have read all of the books in this series and enjoy them very much. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Betty J White
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More About the Author

I live in the Hill Country of Central Texas, on 31 acres, where I write, garden for food (passionately), raise chickens, and practice the fiber arts. I am concerned about issues of global warming, energy depletion, and food production. You can find out more about my life in my memoirs: Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place; and An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days.

I'm traditionally published as a mystery author with Berkley Prime Crime. I have two continuing series: the China Bayles Herbal Mysteries and The Darling Dahlias, about a Southern garden club in the 1930s. You might also enjoy my eight-book series, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and the series that my husband Bill Albert and I coauthored under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

I'm also an author-publisher. A WILDER ROSE is a novel about the mother-daughter team that produced the Little House books, based on the diaries and journals of Rose Wilder Lane and the letters of her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder. (There's an extensive READER'S COMPANION for this book.) I've also published several nonfiction books under my imprint, Persevero Press.

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