The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

Bleeding Hearts (#14)

Death is always hard to understand and accept, but harder still when death is murder and when murder is done in the name of love. China's latest mystery takes her down a trail of bleeding hearts.

"One of her best mysteries to date." —Kirkus

Read the first chapter of Bleeding Hearts

Discussion questions for Bleeding Hearts
Warning! Contains spoilers (plot hints).

Here's what reviewers have to say about the China Bayles mysteries!

  • "Quirky, enlightening and surprisingly profound, Albert's China Bayles mysteries are an absolute delight to read: head and shoulders above most other amateur whodunits." —Ransom Notes, Barnes & Noble
  • "China's followers will delight in the complicated relationships, recipes and historical flower information." —Kirkus Reviews
  • "China's warmth and sensitivity...endear her to readers, while her investigative skills make her a leader among female sleuths...A leisurely cozy with a Southwestern flair." —Publishers Weekly
  • "A diabolically clever sleuth...China and Ruby make Batman and Robin look like amateurs." —Harriet Klausner
  • "Add another fragrant bloom to the dozen already in the bouquet of Albert's herbal cozies." —Publishers Weekly

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Bleeding Heart
bleeding heart Bleeding Heart (Dicentra sp.) is a shade-loving perennial herb, native to the Orient and happiest in cool, moist woodlands. The plant was once assigned to the Papaveraceae family (which also includes the opium poppy, from which morphine is derived). Now a member of the Fumariaceae, it has sedative and cardiovascular effects, lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Misused, it can be deadly.

Bleeding Heart takes its name from its unique blossoms, which are shaped like delicate, dangling hearts in shades of red, pink, lavender, or white. In some forms, the red inner petals give the appearance of drops of blood. It has several cousins with descriptive common names: Mary's Heart, Golden Eardrops, and Dutchman's Breeches.

Dicentra cucullaria, Bleeding Heart's white-flowering cousin, was used by Menominee Indians as a powerful love charm and aphrodisiac. The blossom was thrown by a young man at the girl he fancied; if it hit her, she was bound to fall in love with him. The young man chewed the plant's root and then breathed on the object of his affection. It was believed that the fragrance of his breath charmed her, even against her will.

Cass' Lemon-Rosemary Cookie Hearts
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. dried rosemary, crushed fine
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon balm or lemon balm, minced fine

Mix flour, baking powder and lemon zest. In large bowl, cream shortening, egg, and sugar until well mixed. Add the flour mixture. Add lemon juice, vanilla, rosemary, and lemon herb. Mix together very well. Roll out 1/4" thick and cut into heart shapes, using a heart cookie cutter. Bake at 350° until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Thirteenth book in the series: Dead Man's Bones

Fifteenth book in the series: Spanish Dagger