Sunday, 14 November 2010

Book ~ "Holly Blues" (2010) Susan Wittig Albert

From Amazon ~ The arrival in Pecan Springs, Tex., of Sally Strahorn, the insecure ex-wife of China Bayles' husband, PI Mike McQuaid, leads to trouble. Against her better judgment, herbalist and tea-shop owner China takes pity on Sally, who's just lost her home and suffers from split personality disorder, and offers her a place to stay. Soon enough, a stalker targeting Sally makes threatening calls to China, and the police suspect Sally of involvement in a murder. With Mike away on business, China again turns sleuth to determine what connection the stalker might have to the deaths of Sally's parents almost 10 years earlier—and to prevent any harm to herself or her children. More than once China and her best friend, Ruby, dress up as Sesame Street characters to disarm suspicion. Series fans will enjoy catching up with old friends, though newcomers are likely to find the soap-operish family relationships of less interest.

This is the first China Bayles story I've read ... it's apparently the 18th in the series. I was attracted to it because it's a mystery with a female detective (even though she owns an herb/tea shop).

I enjoyed the writing, though I found it went off on a tangent sometimes that had nothing to do with the story. For example, sometimes it veered off into a conversational tone (where we got a lesson in herbs or China described how much she liked baths) that conflicted with the tone of a murder mystery story. Another example is there is a big of description about two lesbians who were necking in a restaurant just before they left found a dead body... what difference did that make as it added nothing to the story?!

Though China and McQuaid are married, I wasn't buying them as a couple ... I wasn't feeling the love.

All fingers are pointing to McQuaid's ex-wife as a murderer yet China continues to give her the benefit of the doubt even after the ex-wife lied to China. For a former lawyer (which you are constantly reminded), China seems too trusting and naive.

We are told who the murderer is about halfway through the book and I was waiting for a twist at the end in that they didn't really do it. Sorry to spoil it for you but they did indeed do it. The ending fell flat for me.

With all that said, I didn't think it was a horrible book and I'm interested to go back and start at the beginning and read the first couple.

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