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

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,298 Ratings  ·  177 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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Insurgent by Veronica RothCity of Lost Souls by Cassandra ClareHallowed by Cynthia HandPandemonium by Lauren OliverIncarnate by Jodi Meadows
Hurry up 2012!
153rd out of 214 books — 287 voters
Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae BrownSew Deadly by Elizabeth Lynn CaseyBless Her Dead Little Heart by Miranda JamesThe Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree by Susan Wittig AlbertWell Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran
Cozy Mysteries set in the (US) South
84th out of 98 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,160)
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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
Apr 12, 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
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
Alannah Davis
Dec 30, 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
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
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
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
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
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
Mar 27, 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.
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.
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.
Gerri Balter
Jun 29, 2014 Gerri Balter rated it did not like it
Shelves: a-authors
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
Ellen Moore
Nov 14, 2015 Ellen Moore rated it it was amazing
Another good book in the China Bayles series. Blackie and Sheila had gotten married, and Blackie was working with McQuaid as a private detective instead of being county sherriff. The murder of a man who was the local computer guru absorbed the Pecan Springs Police Dept., and much of this book is told from the perspective of the Police Chief Sheila. China is helpful in the investigation since McQuaid and Blackie are away rescuing a child kidnapped from his father and taken to Mexico. The book als ...more
Jul 27, 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.
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.
Nancy H
Feb 19, 2015 Nancy H rated it really liked it
Another great read in the Pecan Springs mystery series.
Mary Kay Thompson
May 21, 2012 Mary Kay Thompson rated it really liked it
Loved a book from Smart Cookie's point of view!
Jun 10, 2012 Debra rated it it was ok
A substandard entry in an above standard series.
Jennifer Gelert
Jul 30, 2015 Jennifer Gelert rated it really liked it
Another one of my favorite characters! It was interesting to find her as a minor character in this book. Her friend, Chief of Police, Shelia Dawson is the lead. A murder is committed in the small town of Pecan Springs and is made to look like suicide. Shelia decides she needs to get from behind the desk and work in the field again on this case.

I still saw plenty of China and her involvement, but enjoyed learning more about the other characters. I also love the blurbs Susan includes on herbs and
Mar 15, 2014 Jill rated it liked it
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
Jan 02, 2016 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
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
Apr 23, 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
Shirley Schwartz
Apr 15, 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
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
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
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
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
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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.

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)
  • 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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