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China Bayles Books In Order

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Publication Order of China Bayles Books

Thyme of Death (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
Witches' Bane (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hangman's Root (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rosemary Remembered (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rueful Death (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Love Lies Bleeding (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Chile Death (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lavender Lies (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mistletoe Man (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bloodroot (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Indigo Dying (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dilly of a Death (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dead Man's Bones (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bleeding Hearts (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Spanish Dagger (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Nightshade (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Wormwood (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Holly Blues (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mourning Gloria (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cat's Claw (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Widow's Tears (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death Come Quickly (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bittersweet (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Blood Orange (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Last Chance Olive Ranch (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
Queen Anne's Lace (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Plain Vanilla Murder (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hemlock (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
Forget Me Never (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of China Bayles Collections

An Unthymely Death and Other Garden Mysteries (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
China Bayles' Book of Days (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon

Going under a variety of different pen-names, including the famous Carolyn Keene that’s used for the Nancy Drew series, Susan Wittig Albert is the real name of this renowned American author. Writing mysteries, she is highly regarded and extremely influential within her particular field, creating a vast wealth of work. One such series is her ongoing China Bayles collection of books that are also mysteries for a more adult audience, achieving the respect of both the public and critics alike. Running a herbal shop in a small-town, China Bayles has decided that life as a big-city lawyer wasn’t for her, as she looks for some peace and quiet. This isn’t to be though as trouble quickly finds her and she soon becomes a investigator getting to the bottom of murder cases using her powers of deduction and reason. Using her knowledge of herbs and the law, she is able to learn more on the poisons used and crack the case, whatever it might be.

As a mystery author, Susan Wittig Albert is unsurpassed in her ability to hone a taut and quality narrative, tying up all the loose ends upon closure. This series extends on that as she manages to build the story around the central protagonist, continuing her skills from her time writing Nancy Drew, but this time for an adult audience. This is something that will carry on as there’s more to come, as China Bayles is a franchise with plenty of life left in it still.

Thyme Of Death

Initially published in 1992, this was to be the book that introduced China Bayles as a character to the general public at large. Setting up the premise and who she is, it manages to manufacture the whole scenario, providing the reasons for her being there, along with who she is as a person. It also manages to convey the style and tone of what was to come, as it provides the first mystery for her to investigate and get to the bottom of.

As a strong and resourceful individual, China Bayles is a witty and resilient woman who always tries to do the right thing, something that keeps her busy for most of the time. Despite looking for the quiet life running a herbal store, she still has the knack of getting herself into trouble, as she soon finds herself immersed in a case. The setting of the herbal shop is also, more than simply being an artifice for the action, a character unto itself as it drives most of the story forwards. With her knowledge of herbs as well as law, China is able to provide an insight into each case unlike anyone else in her field, continually able to uncover the truth of what’s happened and bring those responsible to justice. Narrating much of the action in first person, we are able to see it all from her perspective, as we witness the action through her eyes as it unfolds.

Set in Pecan Springs, it appears to be a small quiet town at first glance, that is until China’s friend Jo dies as the result of her apparent suicide, which leads her to suspect that there may be some foul-play afoot. Undertaking an informal investigation, she aims to find out what really happened to her friend and if she was indeed killed by someone hiding in this seemingly pleasant community. Will she be able to find the killer before they strike again? Why would someone do such a thing and what are their motivations? Can she manage to learn the actual thyme of death?

Witches’ Bane

Following on from the previous novel this was first published in 1993 one year after the first, as it continued directly on as a sequel to it. Continuing the story of China Bayles who is still working in her herbal shop, it goes straight into the action having already set-up the premise beforehand. Taking it in a somewhat different direction to before, it brings in a new tone, whilst remaining true to the style and the themes of the original novel.

China Bayles still continues to run the herbal shop, and she is happy doing so, happily getting herself involved in the on-goings of the local community of Pecan Springs. Despite this she still harbors a restlessness that needs to be scratched, as she wants to continually keep herself and her mind busy in some form or another. Then Halloween comes around and it all seems to be going normally, that is until there’s a brutal murder that shocks the entire community and she finds once again she has another investigation on her hands. This time though it is her friend Ruby who finds herself the prime suspect implicated in the case, a practitioner astrology and tarot, which leads to the local minister accusing her of witchcraft. What really happened with the murder case and why did the killing take place on Halloween of all the holidays? Can China discover what happened or is she in danger of the killer striking again and does she need to protect herself? What will become of them all as they learn about the witches’ Bane?

The China Bayles Series

Quitting her job as a big-time, big-city lawyer, China Bayles became an equally respected investigator due to her due diligence and intelligence. This is something that readers have found both appealing and inspirational in equal measure as, whilst she is easy to relate to, her larger than life personality offers a degree of escapism. Bearing some similarities to the life of Susan Wittig Albert herself, they both followed similar trajectories in life, something which provides the books with their sense of realism. They are also both in Texas, a factor which Albert plays upon thanks in part to her extensive knowledge of the area. This may give some clue as to why the series has been such a success though, as readers have flocked to it in droves. That is something that looks set to continue on into the foreseeable future, as Albert shows no signs of stopping this series anytime soon.

Book Series In Order » Characters » China Bayles

One Response to “China Bayles”

  1. Barbie: 2 years ago

    Have been a fan of the China Bayles series since the beginning and enjoy the mystery as well as the education on Herbs and Texas local.


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