cover image Cat’s Claw

Cat’s Claw

Susan Wittig Albert. Berkley Prime Crime, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-425-24527-9

China Bayles shares top billing with Sheila Dawson in Albert’s diverting 20th cozy set in the touristy Texas town of Pecan Springs (after 2011’s Mourning Gloria). China, an ex-lawyer turned herbalist and owner of Thyme and Seasons as well as co-owner of Party Thyme (catering) and Thyme for Tea (tearoom), is a magnet for crime and gossip. Sheila, Pecan Springs’s first female police chief, faces triple professional challenges: the arrest of leading citizen George Timms for criminal trespass; sniping from within her department and from some city council members; and the shooting death of computer store owner Larry Kirk, poorly designed to look like a suicide. On a personal level, Sheila and her new husband, Blackie Blackwell, former Adams County sheriff, are still adjusting to married life. Albert handles the dual voices smoothly as the combined talents of China and Sheila blend to reveal multiple crimes hidden beneath the peaceful façade of Pecan Springs. (Mar.)