Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Rueful Death” as Want to Read:
Rueful Death
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Rueful Death (China Bayles #5)

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,060 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
During a supposedly relaxing retreat at a Texas convent, herbalist China Bayles and her friend Maggie, an ex-nun, investigate the seemingly accidental death of the Mother Superior and uncover a deadly conflict within the walls of the cloister. Reprint. PW.
ebook, 304 pages
Published August 1st 1997 by Berkley Books (first published November 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Rueful Death, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Rueful Death

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,870)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Pamela Mclaren
I have to admit, when I began this book I was quite surprised at the main character. China Bayles, a former lawyer who now runs a herb shop, has always been a down t earth, level-headed gal and in this book, she seems to have lost her bearing. But then that is the reason that she decides to go on a retreat at a convent with her friend Maggie, an ex-nun. When she arrives, China is asked to solve a series of small fires. Along the way, she finds that there is more going on than the fires. The two ...more
May 20, 2015 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
China Bayles had a rough December. It was the first holiday season with McQuaid and Brian, she did way too much at her herbal store and is feeling overwhelmed and drained. She decides to go with her friend Margaret Mary, a former nun, to her monastery for a retreat to refresh and think over her life. She is drawn into a complex web of secrets, lies, arson, and murder. This was a very nicely crafted story with subtle clues and moral dilemmas. I liked this story a lot. China makes mistakes, is vul ...more
Ellen Moore
I didn't like this book quite as much as the previous ones in this series. The usual characters were barely mentioned or left out altogether. The persons who committed criminal acts did not appear to be in danger of facing any punishment. I didn't like China's renewed acquaintance with an old romantic relationship from Houston. I didn't like the fighting among the nuns in the convent. Apparently I don't like change! After I wrote my review, I read some of the other reviews and found that some ot ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mystery
This is the 5th book in the China Bayles series. China is exhausted from the busy holiday season and trying to make it a special Christmas for Brian after his mother leaves. She decides to take a break from McQuaid and Brian and head to a convent retreat with Maggie, a former nun at the convent. Instead of the quiet contemplation she was expecting, China finds herself pulled into a conflict over the future of the property between the original group of nuns who grow garlic and the nuns transferre ...more
BOTTOM LINE: #5 China Bayles, ex-lawyer, herbalist, Pecan Springs, TX. Another enjoyable visit with China, although I missed “the usual suspects”, aka, her friends and family in Pecan Springs. The ending was far too easy to guess, plus there was a romantic complication that seemed extremely out-of-place, unusual for Albert. But over all this was a decent-to-good entry in this long, and generally entertaining series.

A quiet week at a country retreat, ah, bliss! Well, it was supposed to be, anyway
Jul 29, 2013 Maddy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1999-reads
Formerly a high-powered Houston lawyer, China Bayles gave up a thriving practice and moved to Pecan Springs, TX, in an effort to find some meaning in life. She opened an herb shop, Thyme and Seasons, which has just recently experienced an explosion in sales. Recently, she moved in with her lover, Mike McQuaid, and his 12-year-old son. All should be well, but it doesn't feel that way to China. She's burned out personally and professionally, uncertain of what direction her life should take and if ...more
Having survived a whirlwind holiday season, China Bayles finds herself growing more unhappy with her life as a shop owner and with her personal relationship with her significant other, McQuaid. Desperate for a period of rest and peace that will give her time to answer the difficult questions about her life that she faces, China accepts her the invitation of her friend and former nun, Maggie, to visit St. Teresa's, the monastic retreat where Maggie once served. China's dreams of a peaceful holida ...more
Beth Britnell
Boo, Susan Albert ... Boo! The first several books of this series were awesome! This one was terrible! Spoiler ....

Spoiler following ....

Spoiler following .....

Two people get away with murder! This is not how China Bayles operates! She turned her back on not just the law, but the right thing to do! An old man brutally bludgeons a woman to death, he confesses, and she deliberately turns her back on it, to save a few people from embarrassment? After he embezzled 14 million dollars from NUNS, she

Rueful Death was definitely not my favorite in the China Bayles series, in fact it's my least favorite, so far. I'm not even sure where to start. I think Albert took a chance with a new setting and pretty much a whole new cast of characters (with the familiar ones making brief appearances) with the exception of China and Maggie. It didn't pay off in this book.

There were, naturally several things going on - but with so many new characters it was harder to figure things out and keep track of wh
#5 in the China Bayles series. China Bayles, high powered Houston lawyer, relocates to Pecan Springs, TX to run an herb shop.

China Bayles goes on retreat to St. Theresa's monastery with ex-nun friend Maggie. Mother Winifred at the monastery has her own agenda; she wants China to discover who is setting fires and sending malicious letters. The monastery has a reputation for growing garlic, but a faction wants to develop a conference center.
Mar 25, 2015 Jenn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
So, you take a series where the previous 4 installments have taken place in a small town. You've finally gotten to know most of the regular characters. Then, you up and move the entire book to an entirely new setting with only 2 familiar characters. Okay, fine. But you're somewhere with 40 new people. Granted, not all of them make an appearance as a character, but that's still a LOT of new names to keep up with. But not only that, you name all the freaking buildings with human names! What. The. ...more
Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman
Another great China Bayles mystery. When China attempts a relaxing spiritual retreat to refocus of her shop, her relationship with McQuaid and her life in general, she finds herself drawn into a confusing web of danger. Arson, threating letters and death plague the nun's retreat. Meanwhile she stumbles on fraud, local politics and more death. China handles herself well even when an old flame shows up and wants to rekindle the proverbial flame.
Pam Bales
Jan 22, 2016 Pam Bales rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, cozy
Number 5 in the mythical Pecan Springs, Texas, ex-Houston attorney turned herbaist, China Bayles series, China keeps going strong saving all kinds of crimes. This is a good cozy read. Good strong characters and interesting situations make these books an enjoyable read.
Jul 26, 2014 Janice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, 2014-reads
Rue is the herb that appears in this 5th China Bayles mystery. China feels the need for some time away, and so goes on a personal retreat to a Texas monastery where the nuns raise a special kind of garlic. The peace and quiet China is seeking is not to be found, as she finds an internal war being waged among the nuns. Another great read in this series.
Mar 03, 2013 Blair rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
Again, I'm not sure why I keep picking these up. They started as my guilty pleasure but they are getting worse as they go on. The first couple were great, cookie-cutter mysteries, perfect for a weekend when you are exhausted from work and just need an escape. Then she threw one in that was overly sexual (I forget which) that left me cold. This one was decent until she started harping on capitalism and the horrors of the banking industry. I also can't figure out China; she's prissy about certain ...more
Mar 18, 2014 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Goes to a nunnery to think.
Meets old boyfriend.
Nuns ask her to solve mystery of who is setting fires.
Aug 16, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: part-of-a-series
All of the China Bayles series books are written with a conversational style, and endearing sincerity. The characters are both loveable and believable as are the places. Albert describes things well enough to give you a picture for your mind's eye without allowing the descriptions to overtake the storyline. If you've never lived in Central Texas trust me when I tell you that this is as close as you can get without moving here! These books are a comfortable, easy read - equally good for rainy day ...more
Nov 27, 2012 Chloe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, sequel, own

Not my favorite in the series. The plot and mystery was unimaginative to say the least. I found the setting to be boring, repetitive and poorly displayed. I missed Pecan Springs. The characters were very one dimensional and congruent, by the end of the book I couldn't remember who was who and who did what. I think the author wanted to shake things up with a new county and some new faces, but unfortunately it didn't work. I read these books for the cozy-comfort factor and I lost it in Rueful Dea
Mar 11, 2014 Esther rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one was good too, though I'm not sure how I feel about the frequent wrong guesses.
Jan 24, 2014 Hal rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: avoid-it
Verbose. Slow -- make it very slow -- to get started. I know this author is well reviewed. It may simply be that I lack the estrogen to identify with her characters.
I didn't like this one as well as some of the others. I really have a problem with the way China treats her friends sometimes - especially McQuaid. I don't understand why the author has to harp on China's insistence that everything be her way all the time - yes I want my business and my boyfriend and my friends - but leave me the hell alone while you're at it! Makes her look completely narcissistic, spoiled and selfish. I have a hard time relating to the character.
Jane Brant
Jul 15, 2013 Jane Brant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nuns in a convent involved in murderous, it can't be. Interesting set of characters showing pettiness, search for power, and deception all within those committed to a life of poverty, devotion, and selflessness. Add a backdrop of rural Texas small town life where history and relationships have long hidden that makes for a perfect mystery. I liked the story, the close attention to details, and of course, who could forget the "rue".
C.J. Prince
May 08, 2009 C.J. Prince rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am really enjoying the China Bayles character. Bright, intelligent and much more articulate than I am. I like her in-your-face questions to those she interrogates (not the right word), her romantic caution, herbal knowledge and fallibility. Of course I identify with Ruby, her best friend.

AND I just found a Mystery Book Club. Whoopee. I try to fit a couple in between the two other book club reads. Looking forward to "Silver Pigs", the next read.
Megan Bodwell
Feb 06, 2013 Megan Bodwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, lent
I do love this series. This one was definitely better than the last one, or perhaps my mindset is different. China Bayles is a great protagonist and I love Susan Wittig Albert's obvious attention to important details in the story, like making sure the herbal information is all correct or important background details are accurate, even if by definition, the cozy mystery strains credulity in some aspects. Like, a murder rate higher than NYC in a small town.
Jun 01, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After four books set in Pecan Springs, Texas, the author wisely moves China Bayles to another setting--a retreat where apparently some or all of the nuns are being targeted, and someone is up to no good, including arson and "poison pen" letters. The insights into the cloistered community are interesting and the plot is great, as are the characters. (Although this is no Gaudy Night.) Another good read in the China Bayles series.
Oct 12, 2014 Sheila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
China Bayles was a high powered lawyer that need an escape from the pressures so she moved to a small town and opened up an herb shop. Now after several years of running the shop she is feeling the need for a getaway and agrees to go on a retreat with friends to a cloistered monastery.

The peace and quiet China is seeking is not to be found, as she finds an internal war being waged among the nuns and of course a murder.
Feb 07, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In #5 of the series, China goes to a retreat at a local monastery to mull over her priorities; her relationship with McQuade and Brian, her store and tea room. Of course, while she's there she is enlisted to help solve the mystery of strange fires, hurtful annonymous letters, and a couple of deaths. After a false start, an encounter with an old flame, and opposing sets of nuns, she manages to sort everything out.
I didn't expect to like this one as much as I did. While short on action (the story takes place at a convent, no high-speed car chases here), the story presented a great puzzle that had me guessing at the pieces right up until the end. Mystery buffs looking for a little romance, with plenty of twists for their next beach read should have fun with this one.
Nov 11, 2014 Lori rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned-books
By the 5th book in this series, I'm having a hard time finding it plausible that so many murders and mysteries could happen in this tiny fictional town. I know it's just fiction, but it's getting old. I really wanted to love this series. The first three books were very good, but it has gone downhill and I no longer wish to finish the rest of the series.
Oct 06, 2011 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that Albert is a great writer, always dealing with a significant social issue, drawing interesting characters, painting great landscapes of the terrain and of daily life. I like that China and her friends grow through their experiences. If I were Catholic, I might take exception to some things in this particular book, but being ignorant, I cannot.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 95 96 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Chamomile Mourning (A Tea Shop Mystery, #6)
  • Broken Dishes (Benni Harper, #11)
  • Death at Gallows Green (Kathryn Ardleigh, #2)
  • Aunt Dimity's Christmas (An Aunt Dimity Mystery, #5)
  • Honeymoon With Murder (Death on Demand, #4)
  • The Body in the Bouillon (Faith Fairchild, #3)
  • Storm Track (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #7)
  • The Flaming Luau of Death (Madeline Bean, #7)
  • Sugarplum Dead (Death on Demand, #12)
Susan is the author/co-author of biographical/historical fiction, mysteries, and nonfiction.

LOVING ELEANOR: A novel about the intimate 30-year friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, based on their letters

A WILDER ROSE: the true story of Rose Wilder Lane, who transformed her mother from a farm wife and occasional writer to a literary icon

BITTERSWEET,#23 in the China Bayles series

More about Susan Wittig Albert...

Other Books in the Series

China Bayles (1 - 10 of 24 books)
  • Thyme of Death (China Bayles, #1)
  • Witches' Bane (China Bayles, #2)
  • Hangman's Root (China Bayles, #3)
  • Rosemary Remembered (China Bayles, #4)
  • Love Lies Bleeding (China Bayles, #6)
  • Chile Death (China Bayles, #7)
  • Lavender Lies (China Bayles, #8)
  • Mistletoe Man (China Bayles, #9)
  • Bloodroot (China Bayles, #10)
  • Indigo Dying (China Bayles, #11)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »