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Holly Blues (China Bayles #18)

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  1,315 ratings  ·  143 reviews
"In a class with...sleuths V.I. Warshawski and Stephanie Plum," China Bayles deals with a most unwelcome guest...

China Bayles is fit to spit when her husband's troubled ex-wife, Sally, shows up at her herb shop, claiming to be broke with nowhere else to turn. China isn't sure if it's the goodness of her heart or the scent of Christmas wreaths, but she invites Sally to s
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Berkley Hardcover
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Community Reviews

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Maria Alau
I love China Bayles; I really do, but I must admit that Iam getting tired of Ms. Albert's habit of re-hashing of who everyone is and how they're connected. I appreciate that she's not assuming that everyone has read all of the series, but sometimes I wish she would. I would rather see a "who's who" index in the front or back of the book, rather than taking up valuable story space.

However, once beyond that the story continues on with McQuaid's ex, Sally, showing up at Christmas time, and seemingl
China is at it again, and she's accompanied by the usual cast of characters. Sally, McQuaid's ex-wife and Brian's mother, shows up at China's doorstep with a mystery in hand and secrets hidden in her large duffle. Because it's right before Christmas, China falls for Sally's tale of woe and offers her a place to stay until after the holiday.

China soon is ruing her decision when Sally admits she's being stalked by an ex, and with McQuaid out of town, Ruby and China start investigating.

This book
Yes, still reading these because they are simple for a busy time! I was even willing to read this one set at Christmas time. I loved learning all the legends and facts about holly--one of my favorite plants. I think what appeals about the writing is that some of it is in first person--the voice of the main character, China, who is the main detective in these. That writing is contrasted with straight narrative--in this book that was mostly about China's husband, McQuaid, who was detecting in anot ...more
Teresa in Ohio
Usually when reading a series, with this many additions it is like catching up with an old friend, not this time. China is quite whiny and preachy throughout the whole book. Characters talking to the reader while telling the story, usually is a fun thing for me. I get information other characters don't have and it adds to the depth of the plot. Instead I get a lecture from China about how bad the economy is and how urban sprawl is hurting the Texas countryside. If I want this I will watch the ne ...more
After "Wormwood" (which I enjoyed, but it was a departure in many ways from the China Bayles series), I really enjoyed getting back to the gang in Pecan Springs and getting involved in a mystery in familiar settings.
China and Ruby are in perfect amateur-sleuth form as they go tracking down the latest mystery, which is a good one.
Won't give away any spoilers, but will say that along with just enjoying the heck out of the main story with China & Ruby, that the reuniting romantically of a coupl
Jean Perry
I was disappointed in this Albert book. She described EVERYTHING, from the kind of treees that lined the lane to their house, to the kind of sodas in the soda machine of the diner. It seemed to be filler. The mystery story was interesting, but i skimmed a lot of it. Some description is helpful to get the scene, but this was way too much.
Sue Jellum
Not her best effort. Nothing new, just seemed like entire pieces were lifted from her other books and assembled to make this one. I really don't care about Ruby's outfit, and I have read the description of Pecan Springs too many times already.
Alannah Davis
I've spent the past couple of weeks catching up on the books in the China Bayles series that I missed during a chunk of my life when I wasn't doing much reading. With "Holly Blues," I'm now all caught up and feeling rather bittersweet about it. It's good to be completely up to date on the series, yet these past few weeks with China have been like reconnecting with an old friend. I hate for that time to end.

In "Holly Blues," McQuaid's ex-wife Sally turns up seeking a place to stay. Maybe the Chri
Susan Ideus
"...let's take time out for introductions. Some of you already know me and have visited my shop a dozen times or more. Others—well, maybe this is your first visit, and you haven't a clue to who we are or what we're talking about. So, my name is China Bayles."

One of the best parts of Holly Blues, or any of the China Bayles series, is the warm welcome. The reader is immediately drawn into the world of Pecan Springs, China, McQuaid, Ruby, and all of the other folks in this small Texas Hill Countr
Teena in Toronto
This is the first China Bayles story I've read ... it's apparently the 18th in the series. I was attracted to it because it's a mystery with a female detective (even though she owns an herb/tea shop).

I enjoyed the writing, though I found it went off on a tangent sometimes that had nothing to do with the story. For example, sometimes it veered off into a conversational tone (where we got a lesson in herbs or China described how much she liked baths) that conflicted with the tone of a murder myste
I enjoyed the book Holly Blues by Susan Wittig Albert just as much as I have enjoyed every one of the other books in the China Bayles series. The plot was fast moving and definitely kept the reader in suspense. The emphasis in Albert's mystery books is not as much on the crimes committed but on the keen mind and resourcefulness of China Bayles and her relationships with her good friend Ruby Wilcox, police chief Sheila Dawson, husband Mike Quaid, and her stepson and now the newest family member, ...more
My first read this year of Christmastime books, and an enjoyable one.

Lawyer-turned-small-businesswomen China Bayles is busy getting ready for Christmas, both personally and with her business, where she sells herbs and herbal products. She is looking forward to making a good holiday for herself, her husband, her stepson, and her niece Caitlin who has recently joined her family.

Then her husband's ex-wife Sally suddenly shows up. Sally is pretty much a disaster, and as usual seems to have troubles
Robert Schneider
First off let me say that I have not read any of this series and that I do realize this is the 18th. I picked it up because it had a Christmas theme. As you can see by the 2 stars I didn't think much of this book. I can't go into detail without spoilers so all I will say was nothing much happened in the mail plot but lots seemed to happen in the secondary characters lives. Too bad it would only mean something to followers of the series. I was bored enough with what was going on that I kept stopp ...more
#18 in the China Bayles "herb shop" mystery series. Pecan Springs is getting ready for Christmas, and China is glad to see an upswing in business at Thyme & Seasons. The poor economy has hit small businesses hard, especially businesses that sell non-essential items, so belts are beginning to tighten a bit in the McQuaid-Bayles household. They are also adjusting to having China's niece whom she and Mike have adopted since the death of her half-brother. This will be Kate's first Christmas with ...more
(3.5 stars) This is the 18th book in the China Bayles series and occurs around the Christmas holidays. China is getting used to being a mom to both her stepson, Brian, and to the daughter of her deceased half-brother. Her life is put out of kilter by the arrival of Brian's mother, Sally who begs to stay with them while she tries to put her life back on track. her husband, McQuaid is dubious of Sally's motives, but agrees to let her stay. But when it appears that Sally has a stalker who may have ...more
I chose this book because of its title"Holly Blues" which spoke of Christmas. Although it was during the Christmas the plot spoke of the dynamics of second families and the struggles involved when the ex-wife shows up to be part of the family for the holidays. Who will solve this murder? Read it and find out.
I always enjoy a Susan Wittig Albert book ! I feel like I grew up with China and Ruby --- i love their characters. i tried one of the recipes in the back -- China's Easy Slow-cook Sausage-Corn Chowder. It was really good -- definitely an easy recipe -- and a 'keeper'. ;-)
May 10, 2010 Denise rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: China Bayles fans, herbologists, people who like Christmas based mysteries
As usual I love the newest China Bayles mystery by Susan Wittig Albert. Outside of bibliomysteries this is one of my favorite series. I like the combination of mystery and personal relationships that Albert builds into her stories. In this "episode" we learn quite a bit more about McQuaid's first wife/Brian's mother. Ruby is, as always, China's perfect sidekick. For those that like to read books by the season they are set in, this is a Christmas season setting so you might want to hold off until ...more
J. Mummey
The beginning was a little too lecture heavy for fiction (medicinal herb warnings, blah, blah, CYA, blah, blah), it was an irritant. I'm glad I continued reading, the story turned out to be a delightfully suspenseful, clever, scary murder mystery.
Three and a half stars. This is a pretty good book - not the best of China Bayles, but certainly not the worst. I have not read them all, but will eventually get through most of them, I think.
Sarah Williams
This book was not as good as the others- I had figured out the plot halfway into the book which was sad because normally Susan's books have a good twist but this one did not.
I really enjoyed this book, reading about China is always like catching up with an old friend. It was nice to have Mike (the husband) more involved in the mystery, not just sent out of town to fret.

China's friend Ruby was her normal colourful self, I have a wonderful mental picture of her dressed all in yellow - her "big bird" outfit.

The bodies seem to pile up in this small town, but the motive always seems believable.

The recipes included range from Peppermint Cupcakes, Sausage-Corn Chowder (wh
Virginia Hotchkiss
All of her China Bales mysteries are great reads and always educational as far as herbs are concerned. You also learn a lot about the Texas hill country.
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
I admit that this book was sitting on my TBR pile awaiting the holiday season, however, once I finished "Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree," I remembered how much I truly enjoy Ms. Albert...I went for the familiar world of China Bayles.

China is forced to deal with her husband's ex-wife and mother of her step-son. She tries to believe the best but gets mired with the worst. Ah Sally....

This was a fast-paced, sometimes heart gripping, mystery. China and friends, never ever let me down.

I learn
David Weinfeld
good read, kept moving and China Bayles is cool - headed and smart as a civilian problem solver.
Quite satisfyingly, this entry in the series is based in the charming setting of Pecan Springs.
#18 in the China Bayles herb mystery series. Set in Pecan Springs in the Texas hill country half way between Austin and San Antonio. The usual mix of herb uses and lore with a mystery China is in the middle of and helps resolve. Involving her husband's ex-wife, China has to work her way through the layers of the stories she and her P.I. husband are given by the ex-wife to solve the mystery.

As usual with this series, you are given an interesting and well developed mix of characters, small town a
Hard to be believed that HOLLY BLUES is the eighteenth book in this cozy mystery series set in Pecan Springs, Tx. Author, Susan Wittig Albert has maintained the same quality through out the series. It's always fun to visit with everyone in Pecan Springs -- like visiting old friends. In HOLLY BLUES it is Christmas time and McQuaid's ex-wife, Sally, blows into town. This can't be good and it isn't. As usual, China (ex-lawyer, McQuaid's wife, owner of an herb shop) and her best friend, Ruby, find t ...more
So this story is just before Christmas and features Sally Strahorn, who is McQuaid's ex-wife. Sally has had an extremely erratic past so it is hard to believe her stories. A murderous man from her past is now stalking her all the way to China's little town. China and McQuaid are able to figure out the facts. China manages to spray the capsaicin pepper spray into the killer's face at the critical time. I want one of those?

I like the sweet moments when China recognizes the priceless relationships
Another nice installment to the Chine Bayles series. The book has the usual traits that I expect from the author: a warm welcome, good company, gossip with friends, a little tension here and there, a great whole dose of sleuthing by China, Ruby and McQuaid. While the previous book I found more emotional this one was entertaining to say the least. I even enjoyed the fact that Sally was around again. You need a little dose of crazy occasionally. I do have a concern though. Is it just me or are the ...more
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Susan is the author/co-author of biographical/historical fiction, mysteries, and nonfiction.

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

THE DARLING DAHLIAS AND THE ELEVEN O'CLOCK LADY, #6 in the Darling Dahlias series, set in the early 1930s in fictional Darling AL (
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Other Books in the Series

China Bayles (1 - 10 of 23 books)
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  • Witches' Bane (China Bayles, #2)
  • Hangman's Root (China Bayles, #3)
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  • 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)
Thyme of Death (China Bayles, #1) Hangman's Root (China Bayles, #3) Chile Death (China Bayles, #7) Witches' Bane (China Bayles, #2) The Tale of Hill Top Farm (The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, #1)

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