From the back of the book: In her latest mystery, A DILLY OF A DEATH, national bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert has crafted "more than just a whodunit...readers will relish this more-sweet-than-sour adventure." (Booklist) Lawyer-turned-herbalist China Bayles becomes immersed in a local mystery -- and to find clues, she'll have to scrape the bottom of the pickle barrel.....
China Bayles is in a pickle. The daughter of her best friend Ruby has turned up on her doorstep, pregnant and in need of a place to live. And her otherwise sensible husband McQuaid has announced that he's bored with teaching--he wants to try his hand as a private eye. His first client is Phoebe the Pickle Queen, owner of the biggest little pickle business in Texas. According to Phoebe, her plant manager is embezzling, and she wants McQuaid to "follow the money." Meanwhile, Pecan Springs is hosting the annual Pickelefest--and this year, China and Ruby are on the planning committee, along with Phoebe. But just days before the festival starts, the Pickle Queen disappears. Some say she sold her business and split; others think the answer may lie with her missing boyfriend. It's up to McQuaid and China to search for the Pickle Queen--and for clues in a case that promises to leave a very sour taste.
I know when I pick up one of the China Bayles mysteries, I am going to be in for a very good story, superbly drawn characters and very intriguing mystery. I was very pleased with my choice of picking this one up at the time I did. I needed a cozy mystery during the crazy holiday season that begins to pick up in November and this was the perfect choice. I say cozy only in that it fits the requisite not a crime solver lead character who solves the mystery. China Bayles mysteries are grittier than most cozies, so maybe we should add the label of amateur sleuth.
I love learning as I go of the herbal lore that Susan Wittig Albert puts in each book. Ruby is my favorite character due to her off the wall, yet fairly focused outlook on life. I felt for her in this book since her recently turned up daughter, Amy, who she gave up for adoption when Ruby was young, is herself now pregnant and Ruby is trying to instill her thoughts on Amy. Amy is rebelling and Ruby is beside herself. China is trying to help as a best friend should, but Ruby is hesitant to take the help since China has never been in her child-bearing shoes.
The mystery of the disappearing Pickle Queen is part of the book, the rest is the ongoing dynamics of the rest of the characters. And the herbal lore I love.
Four pickled beans.....