Creative plotting and a healthy dose of humor highlight Albert's novel, whose heroine, China Bayles, is a former Houston defense attorney turned co-owner of Thyme for Tea. Now living in rural Pecan Springs, Texas, China is busy planning the community's upcoming Picklefest with her friends, and China's husband, McQuaid, is embarking on his new P.I. business.

His first client is Phoebe Morgan, the not-well-liked owner of Morgan's Pickles, who believes that one of her employees is embezzling from her. When Phoebe's body is discovered at the pickle processing plant, there is no shortage of suspects, and China finds herself in the middle of the murder investigation. Phoebe's wayward son Brad, her young lover Todd and sus-pected embezzler Vince top the list.

Lighthearted suspense, amusing pickle jokes (eg. "What's the difference between a pickle and a psychiatrist? If you don't know, you should stop talking to your pickle!") and herbal recipes are blended to create a satisfying cozy mys-tery. (Jan., 336 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick