China Bayles' herbal tea business is booming in the small community of Pecan Springs, Texas. Catering is one of her newest endeavors, and along with business associates Ruby and Cass, she works hard to make it a success. China meets high school football coach Tim Duffy and his blonde socialite wife, Glenda, at an event. Then, when an anonymous call to Pecan Springs' high school principal implicates Duffy in a sex scandal with teenage girls, the principal asks China to investigate.

China's simple investigation becomes increasingly complex when she discovers that one of Duffy's purported teenage lovers recently committed suicide. As she looks into the suicide, she wonders if the girl was a murder victim. The mystery becomes more tantalizing when another murder occurs, shattering the peaceful winter idyll of the small Texas town.

Albert's latest China Bayles mystery grips the reader's attention with riveting suspense. China is an engaging protagonist, full of confidence, wit and creativity. Helpful herbal suggestions and mouth-watering recipes provide a welcome addition to this charming novel. (May, 304 pp., $23.95)
Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick