cover image Blood Orange

Blood Orange

Susan Wittig Albert. Berkley Prime Crime, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-425-28000-3

Once again murder and small-town life go hand in glove in Albert's enchanting 24th China Bayles mystery (after 2015's Bittersweet). Hospice nurse Kelly Kaufman, who has been renting China's guest cottage in Pecan Springs, Tex., while going through a bitter divorce, disappears one day, but she later phones China to say that she needs the herbalist's help with a situation involving murder. While driving to meet China, Kelly has a car accident that leaves her in a coma. Police chief Sheila Dawson suspects it was no accident, and China begins to dig for more information. One obvious suspect is Kelly's husband, Richard, who's involved romantically with the erratic and ebullient sister of China's best friend and business partner, Ruby Wilcox. In addition, rumors about a disagreement between Kelly and hospice owner Marla Blake raise a red flag. China can't resist a mystery, even when it puts her in grave danger. Snippets of plant lore will please botanists. (Apr.)