China Bayles is back with another murder mystery on her hands. China’s friend Carole Gaye has traveled from Taos, New Mexico to stay in Thyme Cottage and conduct a papermaking workshop. As she is helping Carole gather yucca leaves for the workshop, China discovers the body of Ruby's ex-boyfriend, Colin Fowler, who we met in a previous book. Colin was the owner of an environmentally-friendly store near the Pecan Springs town square.
Ruby, in the meantime, was out of town dealing with her cantankerous elderly mother as she tried to get her into a nursing home. She had no idea that the man she still loved was in grave danger.
As if all that was not enough, Miles Danforth, China's recently discovered half-brother, wants to find out what really happened when their father drove his car off a bridge to his death sixteen years before. Miles turned over a number of letters to China that her father wrote to Miles mother during their long love affair while he was still married to China’s mother.
While China wants nothing to do with this whole sordid situation, her husband Mike McQuaid, a former Houston homicide detective turned private investigator, wants nothing more than to sink his investigative teeth into the case.
Author Susan Wittig Albert deftly weaves several storylines in a solid tale of misguided love and betrayal. How China comes to find out who killed Colin and why is, of course, at the root of Spanish Dagger. Each book in this long running series was written with more depth and deeper characterization than earlier books. Recent storylines have tackled many of today’s hot topics such as sexual abuse and drugs in a sensitive, but compelling manner.
Every time I open another China Bayles mystery, I feel like I am returning to old stomping grounds and catching up on what has been going on in my absence. As usual, China and her family and friends keep things interesting in Pecan Springs, Texas. Because Ruby was out of town and China was busy with the investigation, recurring characters such as Laurel and Cass, and newcomer Missy who held down the fort in Ruby’s shop, add to the richness of the books. Top-cop Sheila and newspaper editor Hark are again on the scene.
This review is from my collection purchased by me, and read and reread with joy. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of any of the China Bayles mysteries, they are available at Amazon.com.