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Cat's Claw (China Bayles, #20)
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Cat's Claw (China Bayles #20)

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  1,419 Ratings  ·  189 Reviews
Police Chief Sheila Dawson believes the death of Pecan Spring's computer guru, Larry Kirk, to be a suicide, perhaps triggered by his painful divorce. Further investigation reveals that Kirk's death wasn't self-inflicted. And the truth is reinforced by her friend China Bayles' news-Larry recently asked her for legal advice in regards to a stalker.As a police chief in a male ...more
Hardcover, 305 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by Berkley (first published March 1st 2012)
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Mar 30, 2012 Lain rated it it was ok
What the heck has happened to China? She used to be one of my favorite "cozy" amateur sleuths, but in this book she's short-tempered, pessimistic, and at times downright nasty. She is absolutely inexcusably rude to Ruby, my favorite character of all time. She expresses nothing but doubt about the marriage of Blackie and Sheila. And she is condescending and snotty regarding the women's quilt club that helps solve the mystery.

If the chapters hadn't alternated with her perspective and Sheila's, I m
Mar 24, 2012 Kristen rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries, 2012
"Police Chief Sheila Dawson believes the death of Pecan Spring's computer guru, Larry Kirk, to be a suicide, perhaps triggered by his painful divorce. Further investigation reveals that Kirk's death wasn't self-inflicted. And the truth is reinforced by her friend China Bayles' news-Larry recently asked her for legal advice in regards to a stalker."

The China Bayles books are cozy mysteries set in the Texas Hill country. Until this one, they were all told by China. In this book Albert deviated fro
Mar 14, 2012 Larraine rated it liked it
If you are a long time reader of Ms. Albert's China Bayles series, you'll notice a slight change. This book is written from Sheila Dawson's perspective. Sheila is the first female head of the Pecan Springs Police Dept and has recently married the former sheriff, Blackie. He resigned his position and decided to go into business with China's husband as a private detective. Dawson is finding it a little daunting at times to navigate the political ins and outs of a small town as the first female hea ...more
Feb 16, 2016 Helen rated it really liked it
I have read most of this series and enjoyed them all. The portrayal of the town is consistent to the extent that I'm thinking of going back and creating a map. With this #20 MS Albert changes tactics slightly. China Bayles has always been written in first person and in this book she still is, but there are chapters written in third person for the police chief Sheila Dawson and an opening chapter with the Texas Star Quilters. I think this was a good decision on her part because it means that she ...more
Apr 07, 2012 Connie rated it really liked it
This is the latest book in the Pecan Street Mystery series. I have enjoyed reading each of the books in the series as well as the Darling Dahlias Mysteries by the same author.

The books are easy, entertaining "cozies" that normally feature China Bayles, who is a criminal defense attorney turned herbalist and shop/tearoom owner along with her "New Age " friend and business partner, Ruby Wilcox. The books always seem like the adventures of "Lucy and Ethyl" with a slight mystery twist and a Texas se
Alannah Davis
Jan 11, 2013 Alannah Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent entry in the China Bayles series. In this one, #20 in the series, China is more of a supporting player while the spotlight moves to police chief Sheila Dawson. I enjoyed this shift in focus. It's a kick to be able to get into the head of a recurring character who previously has been seen primarily from China's point of view.

The mystery starts with a computer guru who has presumably committed suicide over his crumbling marriage. Soon, however, it's looking more like homicide th
Mar 17, 2012 Grey853 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
I suppose the author might be launching a new series with the character of Sheila Dawson. This book is about half China, half Sheila. I really enjoyed the parts with China. That character really resonates with me. I enjoy her perspective and cozy descriptions of the plants, her shop, her relationships. It's all golden because even when she finds a dead body, there's a rush of energy that just doesn't come through with the Dawson sections.

The character of Sheila Dawson leaves me cold. That part
Holly McIntyre
Mar 06, 2012 Holly McIntyre rated it it was ok
I've read all of Albert's Pecan Springs/China Bayles mysteries, but this one just didn't interest me very much. The author tried to liven things up by focusing on a different main character, Police Chief Sheila Dawson, but overall the book just seemed tired. I found the plot especially unconvincing. I think maybe Albert has used up all the good plots available in this small town.
Mar 23, 2012 Carol rated it liked it
Shelves: cozies
It was OK, but I didn't really connect with the mystery plot - not characters I cared about, I guess. I didn't really care who did what to whom, and some pieces of the puzzle were just left hanging. The focus on police chief Sheila was different but a bit boring. China and Ruby are the most interesting characters in the series for me, and I wish they'd had stronger roles in this book.
Oct 24, 2014 Julie rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
I like the "fluffy" mystery aspect of this series. The book held my attention, but I figured out who the murderer was waaaay too soon to have really enjoyed the book. The dark undertones of the subplots were also a little more than I like, but I did enjoy the little act of karma.
Jun 02, 2016 A.M. rated it really liked it
20 books into this mystery series, and 20 books strong! Another great story - this one focusing more on "Smart Cookie," Sheila Dawson, the Police Chief of Pecan Springs, Texas. But China is definitely involved, and I learned more than what I ever wanted to know about the Cat's Claw vine ;)
Apr 16, 2012 Connie rated it really liked it
Love the China Bayles series. This one seemed to end too abruptly and not sure I like the duel narrative.
Mary Kay Thompson
May 19, 2012 Mary Kay Thompson rated it really liked it
Loved a book from Smart Cookie's point of view!
Nancy H
Aug 10, 2012 Nancy H rated it really liked it
Another great read in the Pecan Springs mystery series.
Jun 10, 2012 Debra rated it it was ok
A substandard entry in an above standard series.
Jul 20, 2012 Carol rated it liked it
Not the author's best effort. The series is becoming stale. The writing style fails to display the same enthusiasm as prior books.
Donna Davis
The China Bayles series isn't the first thing I head for when I get a gift certificate, but it is good, comfortable prose for these chilly January nights. This story is slightly different from her previous ones, which were written entirely in first person. Her (actual) spouse wrote the third person portions, but the voice is so seamless that either they think a lot alike, or Albert did some serious editing. At any rate, I can truthfully say that the combination works well.

This story takes us bac
Fredell Boston
Mar 08, 2017 Fredell Boston rated it it was amazing
Really did enjoy this new installment of the China Bayles Mysteries--"A Pecan Springs Mystery with Sheila Dawson and China Bayles".
Police Chief Sheila Dawson believes the death of Pecan Spring's computer guru, Larry Kirk, to be a suicide, perhaps triggered by his painful divorce. Further investigation reveals that Kirk's death wasn't self-inflicted. Her friend China Bayles gives her information that Larry recently asked her for legal advice in regards to a stalker.Also leading citizen,George Tim
Aurian Booklover
May 05, 2013 Aurian Booklover rated it really liked it
The book starts with a gathering of the Texas Star Quilting Club, some old ladies of Pecan Springs, who are experts at gossiping and watching their neighbours. And lately, they have had their eyes on Larry Kirk. He is going through a divorce, as he is a work-a-holic, and his wife has found a new lover. But recently, a lady has been showing up at his house, especially when he is not at home. So what does that mean?
And then Larry Kirk is found murdered. Do those old ladies actually have clues to
Apr 18, 2012 Dorothy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of cozy mysteries
Shelves: cozy-mysteries
Occasionally, it is good to be able to read a book that is totally undemanding, one that doesn't require the brain to exert itself overmuch but can let it figuratively relax and enjoy the ride. That's what books like those in Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles herbal mystery series are like for me. Cat's Claw is the twentieth in that series and I confess that I have read and enjoyed them all. They speak to several of my interests - gardening, native Texas plants, herbs and herbal lore - and they ...more
Feb 19, 2017 Karen rated it it was amazing
The China Bayles mystery series has added one of its characters as a co-main character now. In "Cat's Claw," we meet the police chief of Pecan Springs, Texas, a smart, tough woman who fights the good ol' boys system and the rising crime rate in this small Texas town. China Bayles, a retired criminal attorney-turned-small-herbal-shop-owner/detective and Sheila Dawson, the new sheriff, are best friends who are married to former law-enforcement-turned-private investigators. While the boys are off p ...more
Sep 05, 2015 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
It was interesting to look back on my last China Bayle's mystery review and see that I'd read #19 Mourning Gloria in April of 2012 and at that time said I'd taken a break from the series because they were beginning to feel like reruns. That book was written in 2012 and I must have bought Cat's Claw paperback when it came out and then proceeded to misplace it. So about a week or so ago, looking on Amazon for something new to read, I ordered another copy ( I've since found the first on my nightsta ...more
Sofia Wren
Mar 26, 2012 Sofia Wren rated it really liked it
Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles series follows ex-lawyer and amateur sleuth China, who also happens to be an herbalist. The series has followed China through now twenty novels of murder mystery interwoven with excerpts from herbal books, recipes, and facts thrown into the mix. I love herbs, and so I love these books which keep me turning pages like a mad woman. You will tear through them in no time. I am in the middle of a six day work week myself, and finished the book by day four.

This book
Feb 13, 2013 Leya rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
Susan Wittig Albert is one of those authors that I make a point to read. I loved her historical mystery series that she co-wrote with her husband, the books were published under the name of Robin Paige. I adore her Beatrix Potter Cottage series. I know she has a new series, the Darling Dahlias, which I haven't had the pleasure to read, yet. But my favorite has always been her China Bayles series, set in the fictional town of Pecan Springs, TX. So let's just say I was a little surprised when I pi ...more
Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman
I was trying to read this series in order. I makes it so much easier even though Susan Wittig Albert is very good normally at having China Bayles explain who is who and bringing the reader up to date. Normally.

I must have missed a book. The last one I read was Spanish Dagger, in which her half-brother Miles was insistent upon searching for answers concerning their father's fatal car "accident." Now all of a sudden, China and McQuaid have two kids: Brian (from McQuaid's first marriage) and now a
Diane Majeske
May 26, 2012 Diane Majeske rated it really liked it
In Pecan Springs, Texas, most everyone knows Larry Kirk - he's the local computer guru. So when he's found shot dead in his kitchen - an apparent suicide - the news has everyone abuzz, from the elderly ladies at the Texas Star Quilting Club to China Bayles, the owner of Thyme and Seasons herbal shop. But China, a former lawyer, was fairly good friends with Kirk - and she knows he was worried about a stalker; he'd recently sent her an e-mail asking for legal advice.

Soon she and police chief Shei
Apr 02, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it
Another great story in the China Bayles series. Did like the changed point of view. Now we get to see and learn more info about Sheila.

Police Chief Sheila Dawson believes the death of Pecan Spring's computer guru, Larry Kirk, to be a suicide, perhaps triggered by his painful divorce. Further investigation reveals that Kirk's death wasn't self-inflicted. And the truth is reinforced by her friend China Bayles' news-Larry recently asked her for legal advice in regards to a stalker.
As a police chief
Feb 20, 2014 Kimberly rated it liked it
Book 20 in the China Bayles Herb Shop series. I've been a bit hesitant about starting this book after seeing some previous reviews from fellow friends. I can see why the ratings were a bit low on this particular addition to such a wonderful series that I've followed for years. In this particular book, the point of view is shared between two characters: China Bayles and new police chief Sheila Dawson. Albert has done this style of writing before. Sometimes it works because you get to learn a few ...more
Shirley Schwartz
Apr 10, 2012 Shirley Schwartz rated it really liked it
I love the China Bayles series. i would have to say when pressed that it's one of my favourite mystery series. And now Ms. Albert is highlighting different Pecan Springs characters in some of her books. This is the 20 book in this series. Yes, we still have China, and a little bit of Ruby, but the main character in this book is Sharp Cookie, Sheia Dawson, Pecan Springs' Police Chief. It is refreshing to have a different viewpoint and a different narrator. And I've always like Sheila in this seri ...more
Judy Goodnight
Apr 22, 2012 Judy Goodnight rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
With this book, the author makes a major change in the format of the series. Up to this point in time, the stories have been, by and large, told to us through the viewpoint of the main character, China Bayles. In Cat's Claw, the story alternates between China and Pecan Springs Police Chief Sheila Dawson.

On the one hand, this approach has much in its favor. Whenever you have an amateur sleuth in a continuing series, it starts to strain believability as the number of murders piles up over the cou
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Cat's Claw - 1st Feb Book 1 4 Feb 06, 2013 02:38PM  
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Susan is the author/co-author of biographical/historical fiction, mysteries, and nonfiction.

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Other Books in the Series

China Bayles (1 - 10 of 25 books)
  • Thyme of Death (China Bayles, #1)
  • Witches' Bane (China Bayles, #2)
  • Hangman's Root (China Bayles, #3)
  • Rosemary Remembered (China Bayles, #4)
  • Rueful Death (China Bayles, #5)
  • 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)

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“Maude regards the ones who don't make it as her own personal failures. "I guess I didn't put enough emphasis on 'until death do you part,'" she says sourly, whenever she hears about the latest divorce. "Sad to say, but some are in it just for the good times. Married folks, they gotta be like that cat's claw acacia I've got growin' in my yard. Gotta grab hard and hold on tight when the going gets rough. Only way to get through the bad times. Grab hard, hold on, and ride. No matter what.” 4 likes
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