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

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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  986 ratings  ·  150 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 Hardcover (first published March 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,597)
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Lain
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...more
Alannah Davis
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...more
Connie
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...more
Larraine
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
Grey853
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...more
Kristen
"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...more
Kimberly
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
Carol
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.
Holly McIntyre
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.
Gerri Balter
I am very disappointed in this book. I am a big fan of the China Bayles series, but I didn't enjoy this one. I had to think about it for a while to figure out exactly what bothered me. It wasn't that some chapters were from China's point of view and others were from Sheila Dawson's point of view as the author did a great job of letting the reader know whose point of view they were reading from. China's chapters were in first person and Sheila's were in third person. Part of my problem was that I...more
Carol
Not the author's best effort. The series is becoming stale. The writing style fails to display the same enthusiasm as prior books.
Connie
Love the China Bayles series. This one seemed to end too abruptly and not sure I like the duel narrative.
Mary Kay Thompson
Loved a book from Smart Cookie's point of view!
Debra
A substandard entry in an above standard series.
Jill
Although this is the 20th book in the series it was the first for me. I really enjoyed it. A nice cozy afternoon read with a mystery thrown it. Very everyday and identifiable characters and setting in a small town. I loved the ladies quilting circle. I'm sure I know every one. A nice added feature was the main characters interest in herbs, gardening and cooking. Especially like the recipes at the end for the food mentioned in the book. Not prize winning fiction but an enjoyable read and I will b...more
Nancy
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...more
Dorothy
Apr 23, 2012 Dorothy rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Shirley Schwartz
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
Sofia Wren
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...more
Leya
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
Judy Goodnight
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...more
Aurian Booklover
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...more
Donna
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...more
Diane Majeske
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...more
Linda
I love this series. It is one of a few series I read mixing murder mystery and the culinary world. China Bayles, Hannah Swenson (Joanne Fluke) and Goldie Schulz (Diane Mott Davidson) are this foodie's alter egos in wonderfully fun romps through their small towns, their kitchens and their circles of friends, some of whom haplessly become victims and suspects at alarming frequencies! This particular work is told from two character's POV. China, the owner of Thyme and Seasons Herb Shop, the other S...more
Darlene Miller
Susan is changing how she tells her stories. She used to strictly tell the story from China's view point, but a couple of book ago this changed. Cat's Claw was told from Smart Cookies point of view and I liked that. The only problem with this book was a lot of background had to be given for people that were new to the series, and it just bogged the story down. Overall, I did like the book.
Spuddie
Meh. I don't care for these books where the author changes point of view from chapter to chapter. I do understand what she's saying in the foreward to the book...it's a long-lived series and changing it up a bit might help keep people's interest...heck, she probably needs to do something a little different for her own self, maybe. But I (for whatever reason) just don't enjoy them as much. I hope the next book goes back to "all China."
Nancy
Albert makes a switch to letting Pecan Springs' police chief Shelia Dawson tell this story. China Bayles is present, and makes a contribution to solving the case, but she is not front and center. Also, there is more emphasis on police procedure. The mystery has a number of strands which are all woven together. As always. the reader gets a sense of the Texas Hill Country, as well as herbal lore and, in this one, there is quite another, non-herbal meaning to the title Cat's Claw.
Albert's China B...more
C.J. Prince
Book #20 in the China Bayles mystery series shifts focus. We usually find the entire novel unfolding from China's point of view. In "Cat's Claw", China's friend and Chief of Police Sheila Dawson has at least half of the book unfolding from her point of view told in the third person. An interesting device and allowing author Susan Wittig Albert to expand the scenes with two people unfolding the action.

And there is action. And a suicide or a murder? With fine story telling skills, Albert does not...more
Ed
In China Bayles #20, a shift in focus from China to Sheila Dawson, police chief, gives Susan Wittig Albert the opportunity to breathe new life into the series.

China Bayles comes to the aid of her friend Sheila Dawson, the female police chief in Pecan Springs, Texas. Larry Kirk, the local techie, is found dead in his kitchen. It may be suicide, since he was in the midst of a difficult divorce, but China tells Sheila that he had asked her for help dealing with a stalker. Other evidence casts doubt...more
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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.” 3 likes
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