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Chile Death (China Bayles Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 1999
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Chile is the pepper; chili (or sometimes chilli) is the spicy stew made with it. That's the first of many lessons about food, love, and death in Susan Wittig Albert's latest mystery about China Bayles, the Texas Hill Country lawyer turned herbalist and crime solver. Although Albert lives in the Texas Hill Country herself, she swears that China's hometown, Pecan Springs (which must have a higher per capita death rate than anyplace outside of Jessica Fletcher's Maine village), is fictional. So we have to believe that nobody really killed one of the judges of the annual Cedar Choppers Chili Cook-off by adding peanuts to his tasting sample and causing a deadly allergic reaction.
But China and her lover, ex-cop Mike McQuaid, believe it--especially after the dead chili judge, Jerry Jeff Cody, turns out to have a swampful of dirty secrets. So Albert begins a clever dance, keeping Bayles and the bedridden McQuaid (shot while working for the Texas Rangers) in just enough danger to maintain an atmosphere of suspense while also slipping in enough chile lore to outfit a chain of Taco Bells. The format may be familiar, but Albert is one of the best in the business at making it look newly hatched. Other Bayles books include Love Lies Bleeding, Thyme of Death, and Rueful Death. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
China Bayles, the only ex-lawyer/herbalist/sleuth in Pecan Springs, TexasAand perhaps anywhere elseAoffers an appealing measure of hot chili lore to go with the abundance of hot water in which she finds herself in her seventh outing (after Love Lies Bleeding, 1997). Life changes are coming at China fast and furiously. Boyfriend Mike McQuaid is still at the Manor, a rehabilitation center and nursing home, struggling to recover from a paralyzing gunshot wound. Best friend Ruby is pressing her to partner a new business venture, and China is trying her hand at writing for the local newspaper. The action heats up at the annual Cedar Choppers Chili Cookoff when local cooks (including some who have never lifted a pot before) compete to see who can rustle up the best and hottest chili. Cookoff judge Jerry Jeff Cody dies of a severe allergic reaction, but China and McQuaid doubt that it was an accident since Cody, a slick insurance salesman, had given many folks motive for murderAincluding his divorce-seeking wife, Roxanne; his current flame, Felicia Travis; his angry business partner, Pokey Clendennen; and various jealous husbands. Adding some thefts and possible abuses of patients at the Manor, Albert offers a satisfying plot, not too spicy, just right.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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In this book, Mike is working to gain control over his arms and legs and is now at a convalescent hospital where he is getting daily physical therapy and now he is the one with cold feet about getting married, thinking it would be unfair to tie China to a man who can't walk and take care of her. Depressed, he never the less allows himself to come out of the hospital to judge Pecan Springs annual chile contest where one of the other judges dies. Its soon determined that its not a heart attack and perhaps not an accidental death, and China is once again picking up clues and trying to solve the mystery.
While I liked the prior book, I liked this one more and enjoyed the give and take between not only Mike and China, but China and her friend, Ruby. A quick, easy to read story line; a true cozy in every way.