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Dilly of a Death (China Bayles Mystery) Hardcover – January 6, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
Book 12 of 20 in the China Bayles Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Add another fragrant bloom to the dozen already in the bouquet of Albert's herbal cozies (Thyme of Death, etc.) starring China Bayles, a former big-city attorney who now runs Thyme and Seasons Herbs, a small shop in quiet, touristy Pecan Springs, Tex. Dill is the featured herb in this installment of the high-concept series. As Pecan Springs gets ready for its annual Pickle-Fest, China and the other members of the Pretty Pickle Planners panic when Phoebe Morgan the Pickle Queen disappears right before the big event. There are plenty of suspects, false scents and surprises as China scrambles to keep Pickle-Fest alive-and solve a murder or two. The interplay of the author's core characters, including China's husband Mike McQuaid and her best friend Ruby Wilcox, keep the plot perking along. McQuaid, a former cop, is focused on becoming a PI, while Ruby's daughter, Amy, seems bent on making the same mistake Ruby made as a young woman-becoming a single mother. The only sour notes Albert hits in this dill-infused mystery are the terrible pickle jokes, but China's good sense and good humor easily compensate.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Fans of the prolific Albert know that her China Bayles series delivers more than just a whodunit. Included in all of her "herbal" mysteries are several recipes--some featuring delicacies served at former lawyer China's Thyme for Tea shop and others featuring the herb showcased in the story. Dill takes center stage here, mostly in the form of pickles. Tiny Pecan Springs, located in the Texas Hill Country, is preparing for the gala tenth anniversary of Picklefest. China, whose husband, McQuaid, is launching a new PI business, is on the planning committee. Coincidentally, McQuaid's first client turns out to be Phoebe Morgan, the "Pickle Queen" whose family pickle business is the biggest in Texas. When Phoebe disappears before the festival, China and her best friend, Ruby, try to figure out where she went and why. Meanwhile, Ruby's daughter Amy is pregnant--and not divulging the father's name. As China learns more about the baby's father, Phoebe's disappearance, and an embezzlement scheme at Morgan's Premier Pickles, surprising connections are revealed. Readers will relish this more-sweet-than-sour adventure. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: China Bayles Mystery
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover; 1 edition (January 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425193993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425193990
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,249,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dawn Dowdle VINE VOICE on February 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
China Bayles has a new roomer. Amy, the daughter of her best friend, Ruby, has arrived on her doorstep pregnant and in need of a place to stay. She won't tell anyone who the father is and that has Ruby steamed.
Then McQuaid, China's husband, announces he's bored with teaching and wants to start his own private detective agency. He even has his first client lined up. She is Phoebe the Pickle Queen, owner of Morgan's Pickles. She wants McQuaid to look into her plant manager's finances. She says that he is embezzling funds, and she doesn't want it made public until she is positive of all the facts.
Ruby and China are on the planning committee, Pretty Pickle Planners, with Phoebe for the annual Picklefest. During the last week of preparation, Phoebe disappears. Everyone thinks she has run off with her new young boyfriend, Todd Kellerman, because he is missing too. China suspects that Marsha, Phoebe's assistant, isn't too excited by that prospect. It appears Marsha may be interested in Todd herself! Later Phoebe is found dead at the Pickle plant.
This is just the beginning of the many twists and turns in this terrific book. And once again China and Ruby get themselves into some very interesting situations. You might say they find themselves in a pickle!
I really like China Bayles. She is such a likeable character. I am not an enthusiast of herbs, but I still find this series to be such an enjoyable and quick read! I can't wait for the next book!
Plus China is complimented by so many wonderful characters. McQuaid is a great asset to this series. And there aren't many books in this series where Ruby doesn't play an important role. Her take on life is quite different and she always brings a fresh approach to whatever adventure they're on.
Pecan Springs, TX, is a typical small town and I think that Ms. Albert has done a fabulous job in creating and describing it. I feel as if I've been there!
I highly recommend this book!
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Format: Hardcover
China Bayles is still adjusting to married life with former police detective and current university professor, Mike McQuaid. Teaching wasn't really challenging enough and he misses investigative work so he has decided to hang out his P.I. shingle. Mike's first client is Phoebe Morgan, Pecan Spring's Pickle Queen. There seems to be a case of embezzlement at Morgan's Premier Pickles, the local pickle factory. Phoebe disappears right before the annual pickle festival. She was in the process of selling her business. Some think she ran away with her much younger painter boyfriend until her body was found in the effluent tank at the plant. Her boyfriend is prime suspect until his body is found dead of an apparent suicide. It's not long before his death is classifed as a murder. In a parallel story, Ruby's daughter Amy is pregnant and is not disclosing the baby's father.
The China Bayles series has always been a bit uneven. Some of the books are really good and some are very boring. I thought this was one of the better books in the series. The story really flowed and kept a good pace. Set in Texas Hill Country, Albert gives you nice sense of the rural aspect of the countryside outside of Austin. One of the best parts of the China Bayles books are the herbal facts and recipes included with the actual story. I have almost as much fun reading these as trying to figure out whodunit.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a "dilly of a book", and I couldn't believe how much I had missed China. Ms. Albert cannot write these books fast enough for my taste. This is a great China Bayles book. In it China is trying to find the killer of a local business lady who runs a pickle factory. As she delves deeper into the past, she finds more suspects and motives for murder than she knows what to do with. In the book we see some of our favourites-Ruby, Janice, McQuaid, but we also see China, and that's what makes this series. Reading this book is like catching up with some old friends. There's also some fabulous recipes in the book.
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Format: Hardcover
It's closing in on Picklefest when the Pickle Queen, Phoebe Morgan disappears, leaving China Bayles to start the search for her. With her usual more than capable sleuthing skills put to the test, and with the ever entertaining cast of supporting characters to help her, China sets about unravelling another mystery, her 13th.
As you can tell from the title, the herb of choice in this book is dill and is used sometimes ingeniously and sometimes groan-worthily. Another excellent mystery will have you guessing right to the end. A quick read that is simply delightful.
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Format: Hardcover
China returns with a great adventure. Wonderful characters and a solid story really make the book a fun read. The pickle jokes are tremendously entertaining and provided good dinner conversation one evening.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dilly of a Death is the 12th book in the China Bayles mystery series by Susan Wittig Albert. This story was a great read and it was quite funny with an interesting murder mystery. Phoebe Morgan the unpopular "Pickle Queen" of Pecan Springs is found dead in her factory and there are motives aplenty to keep China busy.

The other storylines are involving too with McQuaid embarking on a change of career and Ruby's daughter Amy coming to stay with China as she is unexpectedly pregnant and needs space and time to figure what she wants to do.

I love this series and look forward to reading the next book!

**** Books in the series ****

In terms of background, China, our protagonist, decided to leave Houston and settle in Pecan Springs after becoming disillusioned with life as a criminal defence lawyer. She puts all her savings into purchasing a store ('Thyme and Seasons') where she can grow and sell her herbs. The details about the herbs are fascinating and as someone who loves growing things, I find it really appealing!

1. Thyme of Death
2. Witches' Bane
3. Hangman's Root
4. Rosemary Remembered
5. Rueful Death
6. Love Lies Bleeding
7. Chile Death
8. Lavender Lies
9. Mistletoe Man
10. Bloodroot
11. Indigo Dying
12. A Dilly of a Death
13. Dead Man's Bones
14. Bleeding Hearts
15. Spanish Dagger
16. Nightshade
17. Wormwood
18. Holly Blues
19. Mourning Gloria
20. Cat's Claw
21. Widow's Tears
22. Death Come Quickly
23. Bittersweet
24. Blood Orange
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