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Mourning Gloria (China Bayles Mystery) Hardcover – April 5, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
Book 19 of 20 in the China Bayles Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Albert's formulaic if still enjoyable 19th China Bayles mystery (after 2010's Holly Blues), the Pecan Springs, Tex., herbalist discovers a trailer on fire on a country road, but she's unable to rescue the unknown woman trapped inside before it explodes. Jessica Nelson, an ambitious intern at the local newspaper, the Pecan Springs Enterprise, has both professional and personal reasons for aggressively chasing an obvious arson homicide story. When Jessica disappears, a puzzled China retraces Jessica's steps, but is wise enough to keep police chief Sheila Dawson and Sheriff Blackie Blackwell in the loop. China's 11-year-old niece, Caitlin, and flamboyant friend Ruby Wilcox lend a hand. A serviceable plot keeps readers guessing about both victim and killer, while Albert provides a strong helping of botanical lore—this time on psychoactive plants and their use—and a handful of intriguing recipes. (Apr.)
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Review

“[China Bayles is] such a joy…an instant friend.” — Carolyn Hart
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Product Details

  • Series: China Bayles Mystery (Book 19)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; First Edition edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780425239131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425239131
  • ASIN: 0425239136
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

As a writer, I work in three genres, mystery, historical fiction, and memoir. My mysteries include the China Bayles Herbal Mysteries and The Darling Dahlias, about a Southern garden club in the 1930s, as well as an eight-book series, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and the 12-book series that my husband Bill Albert and I coauthored under the pseudonym of Robin Paige. My historical fiction includes LOVING ELEANOR, about the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok and A WILDER ROSE, about the mother-daughter team that produced the Little House books. A WILDER ROSE is currently under film option with ThinkFactory Media.

Bill and I live in the Hill Country of Central Texas, where I write, garden, raise chickens, and practice the fiber arts. You can find out more in my two memoirs: TOGETHER, ALONE: A MEMOIR OF MARRIAGE AND PLACE; and AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS.




Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
From the publisher: "While Pecan Springs bustles back to life in the warmth of spring, one woman's life is tragically brought to an end. China Bayles happens upon a burning house trailer and hears a woman screaming for help. The evidence leaves no doubt that it's arson homicide. Jessica Nelson, an intern-reporter at the local paper, is assigned to cover the story. But she's gotten herself too deeply involved. When Jessica disappears, China is determined to find her, before she becomes headlines herself."

I'm a fan of the China Bayles mysteries and always enjoy visiting China's herb shop, Thyme & Seasons, in the fictional town of Pecan Springs with its cast of eclectic residents. In this book, I like how Albert develops China as a parent as her stepson Brian gets older and she adjusts to the new challenges of raising her 11-year-old niece, Caitlin, as well as the development of other characters such as that of China's friend Donna as she deals with the return of her irresponsible sister who causes trouble when she returns to the family farm. Another story line introduced is that of the engagement of police chief Sheila Dawson to Sheriff Blackie Blackwell, and their realization that one of them will need to step down from his or her position in order for a marriage to work which will make for an interesting topic in future books.

Overall I did like this book and appreciated that it did hold my interest from beginning to end and left me anticipating the next one in the series.
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Format: Hardcover
"Mourning Gloria" is the latest of Susan Wittig Albert's bestselling mysteries featuring China Bayles. A former defense attorney, China decided years ago to trade in her briefcase for gardening gloves and now owns an herb shop in Pecan Springs, Texas. Along with her best friend Ruby Wilcox, she also owns a tearoom and a catering service, and also has a booth at the new Pecan Springs Farmers' Market. China is happily married to private investigator Mike McQuaid, and is a mother to her 11-year-old niece Caitlin and Mike's teenage son Brian.

Although China is out of the courtroom, she still can't seem to get away from crime. One evening on her way home, China notices a trailer on fire near the roadside. She hears someone calling for help from within the trailer, but is unable to get to the woman in time to save her. While China tries to put the awful memories of the victim's cries for help out of her mind, a new intern at the local paper keeps asking her questions about what she witnessed. The intern, Jessica Nelson, gets deeply involved in her own investigation of the fire for more than just professional reasons, then disappears. In spite of her initial resolve to stay out of it, China soon feels compelled to retrace Jessica's steps to determine if the young journalist`s disappearance is tied to the arson/murder and help to locate her.

As a longtime reader of this series, I enjoyed the chance to catch up with China and Ruby and the rest of their friends and family in Pecan Springs. China is an interesting main character. She's smart and creative and is a good wife, friend, and mother as well as a successful businesswoman. She and Ruby are opposites in many ways, but have a great friendship and business relationship.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of my favorite series, highly recommended for anyone who wants to get to know a likeable cast of characters, watch them solve a few mysteries, and learn quite a bit about herbs in the bargain. I do have a quibble, however.

China does virtually all the heavy lifting in this one. She is, of course, more than capable, but I missed her husband and son. The delightful Ruby is basically delegated to Grandma duty (quite entertaining but doesn't use all her potential). It's pretty much China, on her own, solving a mystery. The author inserts chapters written in the third person, featuring the victims - in other words, stuff China couldn't have known at the time. I felt these chapters were somewhat jarring to the overall narrative. The style was almost amateurish, more suited to a pulpy detective novel than the rich, full story of Pecan Springs and all its denizens as told by China Bayles. Without giving too much away, at the end it almost feels like a spinoff might be in the works. Susan Wittig Albert writes three different series and has done some personal nonfiction as well, so it would not be out of the question for her to start a new series.

The plot itself was very well done. I guess I shouldn't complain about a story that features China so abundantly, when I love her character so much. I did give it 5 stars. However, I kind of think the story could have worked better without the intermittent 3rd party chapters.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Mourning Gloria" is another entertaining entry in Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles mystery series. In case you've not read any of these novels previously: China, formerly a big city attorney, chose to stop practicing law, follow her heart, and open an herb shop in the small Texas community of Pecan Springs. After a fairly long courtship, she married Mike McQuaid, currently a private investigator. China is stepmother to McQuaid's son, Brian. After China's half-brother's murder, his daughter, Caitie, came to live with the McQuaids. Their household is graced by the wonderful Beagle, Howard Cosell.

McQuaid is out of town during the whole of the book, while, as usual, China becomes involved in an investigation. Driving to her house in the country one evening, China sees a trailer on fire. She calls 911, then heads to the burning structure. She hears someone call for help just before the trailer blows up. Shaken by the incident, China is further dismayed to learn the body of an unidentifiable woman was found inside. Everyone in Pecan Springs wonders who the dead woman was, particularly a Jessica, a young reporter interning with the local newspaper and writing an article on the fire. When Jessica disappears after interviewing China for her article and outlining a plan for further research, only China seems concerned the reporter may be in real trouble. While others put Jessica's absence down to youth, car problems, or a boyfriend, China retraces Jessica's steps and finds out there is a definite cause for concern.

Ruby, China's colorful best friend appears briefly in the book, as do other regular series characters, including the newspaper editor, the sheriff, and the city police chief.
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