cover image A DILLY OF A DEATH


Susan Wittig Albert, . . Berkley, $23.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-425-19399-0

Add another fragrant bloom to the dozen already in the bouquet of Albert's herbal cozies (Thyme of Death , etc.) starring China Bayles, a former big-city attorney who now runs Thyme and Seasons Herbs, a small shop in quiet, touristy Pecan Springs, Tex. Dill is the featured herb in this installment of the high-concept series. As Pecan Springs gets ready for its annual Pickle-Fest, China and the other members of the Pretty Pickle Planners panic when Phoebe Morgan the Pickle Queen disappears right before the big event. There are plenty of suspects, false scents and surprises as China scrambles to keep Pickle-Fest alive—and solve a murder or two. The interplay of the author's core characters, including China's husband Mike McQuaid and her best friend Ruby Wilcox, keep the plot perking along. McQuaid, a former cop, is focused on becoming a PI, while Ruby's daughter, Amy, seems bent on making the same mistake Ruby made as a young woman—becoming a single mother. The only sour notes Albert hits in this dill-infused mystery are the terrible pickle jokes, but China's good sense and good humor easily compensate. (Jan. 6)

FYI: With husband Bill Albert, writing under the pseudonym Robin Paige, Albert is the author of Death at Glamis Castle (Forecasts, Feb. 3) and eight other Victorian-Edwardian mysteries.