The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

Reading Group Guides

1. Thyme of Death

2. Witches' Bane

3. Hangman's Root

4. Rosemary Remembered

5. Rueful Death

6. Love Lies Bleeding

7. Chile Death

8. Lavender Lies

9. Mistletoe Man

10. Bloodroot

11. Indigo Dying

12. A Dilly of a Death

13. Dead Man's Bones

14. Bleeding Hearts

15. Spanish Dagger

16. Nightshade

17. Wormwood

18. Holly Blues

About the China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

This mystery series features herbalist China Bayles, who abandoned her career as a hot-shot Houston criminal attorney to buy an herb shop in a small town located half-way between Austin and San Antonio, Texas. China wants the things that many women seek: a quieter life, rewarding work, a close relationship, friends, and community. Each of her mysteries has a signature herb that is connected to a major theme, and each is liberally laced with information on growing and using herbs. The China Bayles novels have been praised for their intelligent plots, quirky and appealing characters, interesting and evocative settings, and strong writing.

About Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert Susan Wittig Albert was born in Illinois in 1940 and spent her childhood on a farm near Danville. "I loved growing up in the country," she says. "I loved the open fields and wide sky and working in my mother's garden. I even loved being alone so much of the time, especially in the summer, because it gave me endless hours to read."

Susan translated her love of reading into a love of writing. Married at 18 ("We did things that way in the Midwest in the '50s," she says), with three small children, she wrote and published stories for young readers in magazines like Children's Highlights and Girl's Life. Then it was off to the University of Illinois, where she got a degree in English (1968), and after that, to the University of California at Berkley, for a Ph.D. (1972), and to the University of Texas, where she began her university teaching and administrative career.

In 1985, however, things changed in a big way. Susan left a university vice presidency and returned to her first love, writing for young readers. "It felt like coming home," she says. "I knew I'd done the right thing." Working alone or with her co-author husband Bill, Susan wrote over 60 young adult novels, including books in the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mystery series.

In 1991, she began the China Bayles series. "I love writing a series," she says. "China and Ruby are like old friends, now—and like old friends, they continually surprise me with new dreams and schemes. I also enjoy writing about Texas, and about herbs, those amazing plants that have played such an important role in the development of our culture."

In addition to the China Bayles series, Susan has written The Cottage Tales, a series of mysteries featuring Beatrix Potter. She's also begun a new historical series set in the early 1930s, focusing on the members of a garden club, the Darling Dahlias. Under the pseudonym of Robin Paige, she and her husband Bill wrote a dozen Victorian/Edwardian mysteries.

Susan and Bill live in the Texas Hill Country, with two opinionated heelers, a shadowy black cat, a pair of longhorn cows, along with varying numbers of ducks, geese, and sheep. Susan's three children, Bob, Robin, and Michael, live in Nevada, Colorado, and Alaska. She has eight grandchildren and (gasp!) three great-grandsons. "That's what happens," she says wryly, "when you start having babies at 19."