Susan Wittig Albert, “who consistently turns out some of the best-plotted mysteries on the market,”* delivers the charm and suspense in her latest herbal treat, Mourning Gloria. Now ex-lawyer and current herbalist China Bayles must stop a killer whose evil is burning through Texas…
China is relishing the scents, produce, and even the showers of spring. She’s also busy hosting Pecan Springs’ Farmers’ Market. It brings additional customers to her herb shop Thyme and Seasons. And residents find rare ingredients they wouldn’t otherwise find in the supermarket. Everybody wins…
But as the town bustles back to life in the warmth of the season, one woman’s life is tragically brought to an end. China happens upon a burning house trailer and hears a woman screaming for help. The evidence leaves no doubt that it’s arson homicide—but who would commit such a ghastly crime?
An intern-reporter at the local paper, Jessica Nelson, is assigned to cover the story. Drawn into the case by its similarity to her own tragic loss—Jessica’s family died in a fire—she soon finds herself deeply involved and in danger. And when Jessica disappears, China becomes determined to help find her, before she becomes headlines herself…
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.