The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

Wormwood (#17)

China Bayles and her friend Martha Edmond travel to Mount Zion Shaker Village in northern Kentucky, a reconstruction of a Shaker village that existed from the 1820s to 1923. Martha's great-aunt Charity, a Shaker sister, mysteriously left the village in 1912—Martha would dearly love to know the reason. But an even larger mystery is brewing at Mount Zion, and when one of Martha's friends turns up dead, everyone wants answers.

Through Shaker narrators, documents, journals, and newspaper clippings, we learn the real story behind the catastrophic crisis that the village faced at the beginning of its final decade—and the crisis it faces today. In the end, China can finally tell Martha the reason her aunt exiled herself from the Shaker life she loved. But will she be able to name a killer?

"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

Read the first chapter of Wormwood

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

See Susan's list of Shaker herbs

See an example of a Shaker garden plan

NYT Bestseller!

Winner, International
Herb Association
Book Award!

International Herb Association
Book of the Year

Order from

Order from Barnes & Noble

Buy local
Order from your
local independent bookseller Download the audiobook

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

  • "China's followers will delight in the complicated relationships, recipes and historical flower information." —Kirkus Reviews
  • "Engaging . . . Shaker-inspired recipes, excerpts from a fictional Shaker journal, insights into the Shaker religion and plenty of herbal lore enhance another winner from this dependable veteran." —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


The Wormwoods . . . belong to the genus Artemisia, a group consisting of 180 species, of which we have four growing wild in England, the Common Wormwood, Mugwort, Sea Wormwood and Field Wormwood. In addition, as garden plants, though not native, Tarragon (A. dracunculus) claims a place in every herb-garden, and Southernwood (A. abrotanum), an old-fashioned favourite, is found in many borders . . . The whole family is remarkable for the extreme bitterness of all parts of the plant.

Mrs. M. Grieve, A Modern Herbal, 1931

For more about wormwood, check out

Sixteenth book in the series: Nightshade

Eighteenth book in the series: Holly Blues