Witches Bane

Susan Wittig Albert, Author Scribner Book Company $20 (256p) ISBN 978-0-684-19636-7
Murder and suspicion of witchcraft in a small Texas town draw attorney-turned-herbalist China Bayles into her second case (after Thyme of Death ). Rumors of devil worship are rampant in Pecan Springs following the probable suicide of a teenager and the unexpected deaths of a transient and a nursing home resident. The turmoil increases when the Reverend Billy Lee Harbuck begins picketing the Crystal Cave, a New Age shop, claiming that the owner, China's friend Ruby Wilcox, and her customers are practicing witchcraft. Wealthy Sybil Rand, notorious for maintaining a garden of poisonous plants, is found murdered with Ruby's knife after a feminist Halloween party attended by assorted goddess worshippers. Ruby becomes the prime suspect. Other candidates for the murderer's role are Ruby's newest love interest, Andrew Drake, who has a mysterious past and may have been Sybil's lover, and, despite his excellent alibi, the widower, C. W. Rand, managing partner of a nearby resort and sometime ladies' man. As China and her lover, criminal justice professor and ex-cop Mike McQuaid, delve into the case, China must cope with her feelings for an alcoholic mother who is finally taking control of her own life. Albert's lively mystery captures the flavor of a modern small-town being reshaped by big-city refugees. Mystery Guild alternate. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993
Release date: 10/01/1993
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