Friday, June 12, 2015


Years ago my sisters told me about a mystery series, by Susan Wittig Albert, which they thought I might like. I was not a mystery addict like them, but since this China Bayles series was about a Houston defense attorney who got fed up with her life and packed it all in to move to the Texas Hill Country and open a little herb shop, I figured I'd give it a try. After all, that is pretty much what I'd dreamed of doing myself, ever since I graduated from UT! I thought I would probably get two or three books into the series, then get bored with their formulaic stagnancy and give up on them, as I have with other mystery series. That never happened. In fact, I think her most recent book has probably been one of my favorites yet.

Here is what I love most about her books. First of all, the books are anything but stagnant. The characters grow and evolve, and deal with real life issues such as breast cancer, infidelity, and step-parenting. Which is why I suggest starting at the beginning of the series.

Second, not only do the stories take place mostly in the Hill Country, the fictional little college town of Pecan Springs was patterned after San Marcos -- where our daughter went to school and where the author herself used to teach and eventually became their first female VP -- which is less than 30 minutes from here. I love it that she often talks about people and places I'm familiar with.

Third, she always manages to work a specific issue into the plot -- something that is actually going on here in the Hill Country and has people concerned -- like drought and water issues and "canned hunting" on ranches that have been "high fenced" so hunters can pay to sit in air conditioned blinds and pick off game when it comes to feed. She doesn't tell you something is right or wrong. She just does all the research for you and lays out the facts on both sides, and really makes you think about this stuff.

The author is just an amazing person, and a chance encounter with her on-line, when I first moved up here ahead of John, well, it altered the course of my life.

Last, but not least, Susan is a veggie-growing-foodie-herbalist, so, of course, the books include recipes! Need I say more?

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