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Spanish Dagger (China Bayles #15)

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,746 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
Between the herb shop, the catering business, and a weekend paper- making class, China Bayles has her work cut out for her. And now China's half- brother is opening up old wounds, trying to investigate their father's supposedly accidental death, and her husband is taking on the case-meaning she's just bound to get involved.

To put the unsavory business out of her mind, sh
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Berkley Hardcover
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Best Detective/Mystery Series
265th out of 1,388 books — 1,670 voters
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Best Mysteries from the 2000s
50th out of 110 books — 53 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,607)
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Aug 11, 2008 Lain rated it liked it
Oh China, what has happened to you?

You've gone from an interesting, three-dimensional character to a busybody who somehow ramrods her agenda down everyone's throats.

The plot of this book wasn't half-bad (though the various drug agencies had me confounded), but China's attempts at mystery solving (telling the chief of police what she'll do and what she won't, inserting herself in investigations, giving a possible killer her home address???) were baffling. I am all for suspension of disbelief, bu
Ellen Moore
Oct 30, 2015 Ellen Moore rated it it was amazing
This book cleared up questionable information about Ruby's boyfriend Colin and dealt with a new issue of Ruby's mother's declining health. During Ruby's absence to care for her mother, China became involved in investigating two murders. McQuaid was gone, looking into China's father's 16-year-old death and employed by her step-brother. Brian was busy, so most of this book centered around China alone with some participation by police chief Sheila. It was interesting, well written, and held the rea ...more
Jul 15, 2014 Mimi rated it really liked it
I love China Bales. This is the second in a what constitutes a trilogy within the whole body of work. The first of these is Bleeding Hearts, but Spanish Dagger can stand alone without having read Bleeding Hearts first.

China's life in Pecan Springs, Texas is never dull in spite of the small town atmosphere. Her friends are interesting, her husband has gone from being a policeman to a professor to a private detective, and life happens every day. She and a lady who has come to Pecan Springs to tea
Carolyn Crawford
Aug 13, 2014 Carolyn Crawford rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cozies
Spanish Dagger appears to be the first of a three book enstalment by Susan Witting Albert.

In this book..... we really learn more about the relationship between China and her half brother Miles.

Also Colin, Ruby's boyfriend is found murdered by China and her friend. There is a huge background surrounding Colin... and I think this book is just starting to give us a hint of what he was really about.

We learn more about Sheila, and her interactions with the police department.

This was all in all a ver
Nov 06, 2010 Katherine rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I wish the Whiz would make another appearance and that problems would not be solved by killing off the problematic partner in a relationship or crime. I'm getting so that I recognize the clues too early in the book and so at the end don't feel satisfied with the result.
Feb 11, 2014 Betty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
China is planning a paper making workshop. Ruby 's is gong senile and Ruby needs to be gone and getting her settle in an assisted living apartment. She is trying to break it off with Colin Fowler. China and friend Carole discover Colin's body along the railroad tracks collecting Yucca leaves for the workshop. China is dealing with her half brother desired to investigate their Father's. Helping Ruby she takes procession of Colin's Rottweiler, Rambo. She looks into Colin's death to help Ruby. The ...more
Michaela S.
Apr 22, 2016 Michaela S. rated it it was amazing
a nice blend of conspiracy and realism. I appreciate the little bits of information 'bout herbs and laws and such. The Texas story piqued my interest and it didn't disappoint. I wouldn't stress much in this review since I just grabbed it and gave it a go and pretty much had a blast figuring out who's the killer. It's not over-the-top thrilling though. I would say this is a "casual" mystery book. Also, the characters are cool too. They're like the people you can hang around and not be bored—this ...more
Jun 02, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it
#15 in the China Bayles series. The second in a three book story arc about investigating the 16 year old car crash death of her father.

China Bayles discovers the body of Ruby's former boyfriend Colin. Ruby is out of town tending to her demented mother. China finds that Colin had a prior life as a crooked cop and may be working on a drug deal with someone named Lucita. McQuaid agrees to work for China's half brother Miles in investigating the car crash death of his father, 16 years earlier.
Jul 19, 2009 Nancy rated it really liked it
All China hopes to do is have a successful paper making workshop at Thyme and Seasons. But while China and her friend Carole are collecting yucca for the workshop, they stumble across a dead body. To make matters more shocking, the body is that of Colin Fowler, the latest love interest of China's business partner and good friend, Ruby. There has always been too much secrecy and mystery surrounding Colin, and China has never trusted him. Soon there is another murder at the Sonora Nursery just out ...more
Sep 15, 2011 Saadia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative running commentary on yuccas and agaves and various products that can be spun from these plants. I did not realize they were herbs? Papermaking seems like a lot of fun too.

Story revolves around Colin Fowler whose body triggers an investigation led by curious China Bayles into all aspects of his life and work; also features Rottweiler dog Rambo, who is too cute to be believed and ends up as the police chief's K-9 recruit. I rather like all the characters in this Texas Hill countr
Aug 11, 2007 Linda rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
China Bayles gets sucked into investigating the death of the former boyfriend of her best friend and business partner, Ruby. Like all the China Bayles mysteries, each chapter has an introductory herbal tidbit (in this case about different species of yucca: a recipe, some information on how the plant is used now or was used traditionally, etc.
I really enjoy this series, though it's not for everyone and there are some authorly tics that annoy me. I can't stand how she occasionally addresses the r
Dail Sams
Jan 20, 2016 Dail Sams rated it really liked it
China and friend come across the dead body of Colin Fowler, Ruby's ex-boyfriend, while cutting yucca leaves. Soon after, the receptionist at a local nursery is found dead by similar means in the nursery office. China just can't help herself and begins investigating the murders, much to the exasperation of good friend and Pecan Springs police chief, Smart Cookie. Signs soon point to a hunky stranger in town and possible drug-dealing. Another great mystery in the China Bayles series.
Jul 14, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
China Bayles's mysteries are always a treat. Two new residents in Pecan Springs are found dead. China and the police set out to solve the crimes. With the help of other residents and the Rottweiler of one of the victims, the crimes are solved.

I like her books because she give added information about the "title". This one was filled with info about caucus and yucca plants. She also adds recipes. Did you know you can make a tea from hibiscus flowers?
Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman
Jan 17, 2016 Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman rated it really liked it
Susan Wittig Albert again drew me into the life of China Bayles and her friends. It has been awhile and it felt like I was catching up with old friends! I love how she mixes herbal and botanical gems of wisdom with a littler murder mystery. Her books, when read in order at least like I'm trying to, are like a mini soap opera with a little murder and mayhem thrown in to spruce up life in a small town! Agatha Christie would be proud.
Anne Hawn Smith
When China finds a body while looking for some Yucca, or Spanish Dagger, she knows she has the unpleasant task of breaking the news to her good friend and business partner, Ruby. She is doubly reluctant because Ruby is dealing with her mother, who is difficult at best, and is now suffering from dementia and even more quarrelsome. There has always been a mystery about Colin and now China feels that he is not what he appeared to be and has been living a double life. When another body is found, the ...more
Laura Beasley
Feb 09, 2014 Laura Beasley rated it liked it
Pretty good mystery. Drug a little but. Did not care for all the details about plants. Too much information and most of it did not add to the story at all. China gets involved when the man her friend had been dating is murdered and then another woman that works at a plant nursery is murdered also. China pieces together some of the facts and helps find the killer. The killer was a surprise to me.
May 09, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
Number 15 in the China Bayles' mystery series, "Spanish Dagger," by Susan Wittig Albert, does not disappoint. I enjoy the way the author introduces the characters at the beginning of each book as a reminder to those who are following the series of who's who but also to new readers of the series, bringing them quickly up to speed. Character growth in "Spanish Dagger" is evident and it's almost like peeling away layer upon layer to the good parts and the bad parts of each person in the book. Plot ...more
Apr 01, 2016 Blair rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2016
I don't know why I do this to myself. Guilty pleasure. These are terrible, but they are on my shelf and I force myself to read them. This was not as bad as some; at least she didn't attempt to write a sex scene in this, which based on others is a really bad idea. I think I only have a handful more, so hopefully this will be over soon.
Jan 14, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy-mystery
Spanish Dagger is the 15th installment of the China Bayles series. China is setting up to do a paper-making workshop when her friend Ruby, is called out of town to deal with her mother, who is suffering from early dementia and is causing trouble by stealing silk scarves and locking herself in her car. China has some family issues of her own as her half brother hires her husband to investigate their father's purportedly accidental death. While looking for plants to use in the paper making class, ...more
Megan Bodwell
Aug 24, 2014 Megan Bodwell rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
I love China Bayles. This installment of the series seemed to go back to its roots a bit, focusing on China and the story concluding in a surprising, yet logical way. Reading these books are comforting. You can pretty much be assured of who are the good guys and who are Expendables.
May 20, 2015 Gwen rated it really liked it
I can't believe I started reading a series at book 15! That said, I really enjoyed this book. It was a mystery where I didn't know who-done-it halfway through the book. I would like to start the series bit now I know who doesn't die, that is what I get for starting crazy late in the series.
May 29, 2014 Beverly rated it really liked it
I have read all but the most recent of the China Bayles mystery series. This was as entertaining and well written as the rest. I thoroughly enjoy all the characters and eagerly look forward to reading the next book in line.
Apr 11, 2007 George rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mystery readers
The 2007 entry into the China Bayles mystery series. It contains the usual mix of herbal lore, recipes, and murder involving Texas lawyer turned herbalist China Bayles and friends.

Plot line includes the continuing saga of China's family which has been developing over several novels as a secondary plot issue. In this novel, China's newly discovered half brother appears continuing his investigation into the death of China's and his father 16 years earlier that was ruled an accident, but her half b
Feb 15, 2014 Ruth rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure I had read this one, so either read it or re-read it. I enjoyed it so it doesn't matter.
Katie Hilton
Aug 12, 2015 Katie Hilton rated it really liked it
An interesting murder case in which China Bayles bumps into drug-running after she discovers the body of her best friend's former lover.
Jul 06, 2015 Jenn rated it really liked it
This was a decent read, though the identity of the killer came out of nowhere. China was rather bossy and annoying in this one, including a few TSTL moments. Overall I enjoyed it well enough.
Nov 16, 2012 Sallee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
This mystery continues the China Bayles series. Lots of interesting information on Yucca. The story is about Ruby Wilcox's recent love interest who is found murdered behind Beans Bar. Ruby is not home as she is dealing wiath the recent onset of her mother's dementia and getting her moved into an assisted living situation. China has to be the bearer of bad news as it is she who has to break the news to Ruby. Ruby is devasted and wants China to investigate and find out who killed him. As usual, t ...more
Jun 07, 2008 Kimberly rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy-mystery
Book 15 in the China Bayles Mysteries. There is a lot going on in Pecan Springs in this addition. Ruby's ex, Colin, is found murdered by the train tracks. Word has it that he just might have been working undercover to help bust a drug ring. While Ruby is away dealing with family issues, she asks China to step in and conduct her own little investigation. China not only discovers a local nursery who is involved in smuggling, but she temporarily adopts a police dog who has many great talents. You w ...more
Apr 24, 2010 Patty rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a good mystery
Shelves: readin10
Susan Wittig Albert writes a good mystery. She wrote the Beatrix Potter mystery series that I've enjoyed.
This book is one in in her China Bayles series; a serious rival or perhaps colleague to V.I. Warshawski and Stephanie Plum.
China is an ex-lawyer and current herbalist who ownes a popular shop in a small town in Texas. The author offers mysterious crime, dangerous secrets and mixes in humor and romance then tosses in a little knowledge and instruction on using plants found in the south west.
Dec 05, 2013 Ann rated it liked it
China Bayles and a friend are looking for yucca plants to make paper from when they find a body. The ex-boyfriend of her friend Ruby has been murdered. China begins to look into the death since Ruby is out of town taking care of her mother. This is a good mystery and China Bayles is a fair heroine. She gets close to being too obtrusive but reins it in. I enjoy this series. Ms. Albert does a good job of creating plots that are quick moving. I had the murderer pegged fairly early on but the book w ...more
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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 24 books)
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