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Thyme of Death (China Bayles 1) Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1994

4.1 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this promising though conventional debut mystery, Albert (Work of Her Oum) ably invents a central Texas town called Pecan Springs. While the plotting is somewhat mundane, the book's appealing late-summer setting and descriptions of home cooking are nicely evocative. Narrator China Bayels, 42, a former fast-track Houston attorney who now owns a slowlane Pecan Springs herb emporium, erdoys her laid-back lifestyle until the untimely death of her friend Jo Gilbert. Jo, who was battling cancer, is found after she downed a bottle of sleeping pills with vodka, but some in the closeknit community insist that suicide wasn't Jo's style. China and her brassy, New-Agey pal Ruby snoop around and learn that Jo once had an affair with another woman, a prominent childrens'-TV personality. Did the famous lover fear that gossip might ruin her career? Suspicion in Jo's death-and two subsequent slayings-shifts among members of the insular community before the plausible yet slightly disappointing finale. Motives are determined and a guilty party pegged, but there's a sense that all is not resolved; the narrative loses sight of China's romance with an excop and puts the herb business on the back burner. Presumably these aspects of China's life will be detailed as the projected series progresses, but their obvious neglect here leaves readers with mixed feelings about this story's conclusion.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

China Bayles, former rat-race lawyer, escapes to small-town Texas to operate an herb shop and enjoy the simple life. Murder interrupts her simple life, however, when a good friend and local protest organizer dies suddenly. Revelatory letters, a crazy-eyed dollmaker, a nationally known TV personality, her ex-cop lover, and a shifty developer complicate matters as China begins her amateurish investigation. Like her pursuit of the murderer, this provides pleasant escape from routine. The first of a series.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (March 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425140989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425140987
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first met Susan Wittig Albert at a Houston women writers workshop about the time she started her China Bayles series. She was also writing the Robin Paige Victorian mysteries with hubby Bill. I bought all the books she had out at the time and carried them home aflush with the joy of personally autographed copies.
Then, finally, this winter I began to enjoy China Bayles, even out of sequence. But this first volume in the set, Thyme of Death, certainly is one to make a reader want to read the rest of the books. China, named after her grandmother, is a strong woman, an ex-Houston-tough attorney in retreat to a quieter life as herb store owner. Her fictional location in Pecan Springs is wonderfully familiar to any Hill Country Texan. Albert worked as Dean of Women at South West Texas State University in San Marcos and knows the country intimately.
Fictional China just can't get away from the crime scenes that she thought she left behind in Houston, however. And before long she is enlisted in solving a crime with her outrageous New Age fellow shop owner and friend Ruby in tow. China's herb shop ownership lends itself to rich teachings about herbs, and a clever tie in to the crime in each novel. Dealing with the small town John law and the county mountie sheriff requires extra savvy from Ms. Bayles. She is plenty capable of handling crime, customers, and hot, spicy, chile-flavored dishes which she comfortably washes down with Texas brew in the local country western juke joint.
If you like smart females who are in charge of their own lives, you will like China Bayles. Even when she unwillingly softens to the courtship of an ex-Houston cop turn criminology professor, she remains fiercely independent and of the '90's, headed for the 21st century.
To read one of Albert's China Bayles' mysteries is to set yourself up to read another and another and another.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have to disagree with the fella's review down below me who said that genre novels do not deserve five stars! Hogwash! Shoot, I only review books that deserve five stars. If it's not a good book, why read OR review it? Which leads me to declare my life's motto: So Many Books, So Little Time!
This first book in the China Bayles series is excellent. I read "Lavender Lies" first and thought I might be disappointed in the first book of the series, but I was proven wrong! We're introduced to all of China's cohorts in Pecan Springs, Texas and get the dirt on everyone. Ms. Albert immediately draws us into solving the murder of China's friend (who has terminal breast cancer) who appears to have comitted suicide. It's a wild plot with suspects galore, but I was totally surprised when the murderer was finally brought to justice by China and Ruby. Good, fast-paced read. I highly recommend it to mystery lovers.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The China Bayles Mystery Series centers around a small town in Texas and a successful female attorney, China Bayles. China has grown weary of her big city fights and takes refuge in Pecan Springs. But, her life is far from simple as she had hoped when she purchased the Thyme and Seasons herb shop. Between the perils of small town life and the remnants of her past, Ms. Bayles is kept steadily at work sorting out her life and helping the chief of Pecan Springs sort out his. This thoroughly enjoyable series is full of herbal references and more than a few mysteries. There are eight books so far. Lavender Lies is Susan Wittig Albert's most recent contribution to the series. 
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
China Bayles is the kind of woman you would like to be friends with. A smart, self sufficient, high powered attorney, who has decided to give it all up for a quiet life. Opening an herb shop in the small town of Pecan Springs seems to be her perfect idyll. Unfortunately murder comes visiting, and China, along with her friend,Roz, can't resist the scent of a crime.
While not a very difficult mystery, there was much to enjoy in this book. Sharply written characters, a tightly woven plot and lots of chemistry between China and her quirky friends. There were just enough red herrings to make you play along with solving the case, and the outcome was quite believable. I plan to visit with China Bayles again soon.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Of course when you read murder mysteries by the pound it takes a great one to catch your attention. Love this character. How many of us women have led busy, hectic, gutsy lives and even gone on to post-graduate school to enhance that way of life, and woke up one day and decided that life was too short and moved on to a kinder more gentler way of life. And what more kinder and gentler than Herbs. But then, there is alway good and evil and there must always be love.
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By A Customer on April 9, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Do you like pointers on growing herbs,animals underfoot,and a strong independant lady or two,in a savouy series? Thyme of Death is the perfect introduction. The China Bayles series is intelligently written,spiced with wit,and served up with delicious plot twists that will make you clammor for a second helping.
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By A Customer on July 6, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have loved all of the Susan Wittig Albert books in the China Bayles series: strong women characters, mystery and wonderful sensory experience of description of herbs throughout the book. Another strong focus of the books for me is demonstrating how there could be a peaceful life outside of the chaos of corporate America---something many people dream of!
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