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Thyme of Death

(China Bayles #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  8,054 ratings  ·  424 reviews
Susan Wittig Albert's novels featuring ex-lawyer and herb-shop proprietor China Bayles have won acclaim for their rich characterization and witty, suspenseful stories of crime and passion in small-town Texas. Now, when China's friend Jo dies of an apparent suicide, China looks behind the quaint facade of Pecan Springs. Though she finds a lot of friendly faces, China is sur ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 1994 by Berkley Prime Crime (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  8,054 ratings  ·  424 reviews

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Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nov 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Mystery Fans Looking for Something New to Read
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
This is the first book in a series featuring China Bayles, our first person narrator, who quit her high-powered job as a criminal defense attorney to become the owner of a herbal store in small-town Pecan Springs, Texas. Next door is one of her best friends, Ruby, who owns a New Age store. Their friend, Jo, is found dead an apparent suicide but things aren't as they seem, and soon there are several suspects for her murder.

The style was smooth enough, but not distinctive, nor was there enough wi
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Oh, I should have listened to my friend Terri and started reading these in 1992 when this first one was published! There are now 16 books in the series so far and I guess I aim to read them all, plus any more that Susan Wittig Albert writes.

I found a couple of weird claims. 1. barbiturates referred to as over the counter sleeping pills (this taking place in the U.S. circa 1992), and 2. a road that’s referred to as 80 miles long that stretches 60 miles to the south and 35 miles to the north. But
Dec 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: cozy-mysteries, 2011
I liked this book, very easy to read and kept my interest. However, saying that, I found that if I put it down, I wasn't very anxious to pick it up again, but once I did, I enjoyed reading it.

The beginning of the book felt a bit dated with reference to the fashions of the time and some of the slang, plus it seemed like all the people in town had worn something green at one time or other in the book! The author pulled a few unfair punches toward the end of the book by giving information that onl
Christine (KizzieReads)
It was okay. Nothing spectacular, but not boring either. China is a former lawyer who now runs an herb shop. Her friend has died of a suicide, but no one believes that. Then stuff and people begin spiralling after that. I found China to be a flat character. Not really an emotional person at all. With everything that is happening, her character seems to be on an even keel with no variation at all. She was a bit stiff and it just seemed to kill the excitement of the story. The side characters had ...more
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to MJ by: Lydia
Former Texas Lawyer turned herb shop owner China Bayles is not having a good week. It started out ok but it went straight downhill. First her good friend Jo Gilbert dies and it looks like suicide. But China and her friend Ruby donot buy it. Yea Jo was sick but she was a fighter and would not have given up. Then during the one night that week she might get to spend some good quality time with Mike McQuaid, Roz Kotner returns to town and wants to stay in China's guest cottage. After that someone b ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
The world building of Pecan Springs and its inhabitants is cozy wish fulfillment. It was so lovely to hear about China’s herb shop, cooking and fun friends. Her crime investigation also seemed plausible with her law background. The plot kept me guessing. Albert mostly treated her complex characters with respect and nuance, with the exception of Constance who is fat-shamed. That and McQuaid, the love interest, were the only things that bothered me. The first chapter is clunky with introducing cha ...more
I don't know how many times I've checked this book out from my local library, but until this week I'd never read it. I'm sorry to say that I was missing out! I enjoyed this mystery enough to look for the second book.

I liked China, she was a strong, intelligent character, but yet I didn't "click" with her character, I don't know what it was but I just couldn't seem to relate with her at all. At times she was also arrogant. However, I immediately clicked with the rest of the characters, from Ruby
Feb 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is first in the China Bayles series. I absolutely loved it. I couldn't put it down until I finished. Easy reading but lots of fun from beginning to end. ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I'd put my savings into a century-old stone building that housed an herb shop with the clever name of Thyme and Seasons Herb Company. Everybody in the law firm knew I'd gone nuts. Me, I knew I'd gone sane.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: china-bayles
This series of books are about an herbalist that has interesting adventures based in the Austin area. Lots of great information about herbs and recipes with herbs in them.
Eileen Lynx
I was hoping for a more interesting story.
Karen Syed
Mar 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Well, I finally did it. I jumped into yet another series of books that everyone said would have me hooked before I finished book one. Guess what? They were right.

I spent a couple of weeks (keep in mind I get to read a chapter every couple of days) reading THYME OF DEATH, the first in the China Bayles mystery series written by Susan Wittig Albert. China is a really neat character, a little bit of fun wrapped up in a serious package.

The story comes together in a nice little homespun package of q
Lori Henrich
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pecan Springs, Texas is a nice place to live. At least China Bayles thinks so. Coming from a former lawyer that is high praise. After leaving the law she became a resident of Pecan Springs and the owner of Thyme and Seasons. Everything is going along pretty well until a good friend is found dead of an apparent suicide. Ruby, who shares the other half of the shop, is adamant that Jo would never kill herself and she is going to investigate whether China believes her or not.

China goes about her bus
Mar 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
Early nineties feminism...yowch guys. I sort of missed this era, since I was very young as it happened and we didn't exactly address it as such in college (too recent I suppose), but if this book encapsulates a common view of nineties feminists then I can see why feminists and feminism got such a bad name in there with so many people. Selfish bitches: getting divorces! doing what they want! being secret lesbians! wearing stirrup pants! using men for sex! withholding evidence! cussing! hating the ...more
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Chrystal by: Lynda Bracken
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
See full review at Albert is one of my absolute favorite writers! I intend to read them all...eventually! Love China and the "supporting" characters. Well paced action and good characterization. This is my second China Bayles mystery...of many! ...more
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
These mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert are very personable who dunits. The main character, China Bayles is a no nonsense snoop. Each book centers around some herb and includes recipes for cooking, medicinal use, and beauty.
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like it, but everything was not right -characters not possible to like, crime strony quite slow and not interesting, solution not convincing, weird comments...
Lynn Pribus
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this one and am on the list for China Bayles #2.) Almost a cozy, but there's enough lust and heavy breathing and bodies to tip it more toward a mystery thriller.

China is the proprietor of an herb shop in a Texas town called Pecan Springs. (Fredericksburg-ish with all the German names.) She's convinced that a terminally ill friend did NOT take her own live and there are more bodies. All sorts of complications and a breezy writing style sold me. This one was written about 25 years ago, b
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mystery
I can't believe I hadn't started this series sooner. China is a great MC and I like her friends. I like the location, being a small town where everybody knows everybody else. The chief of police actually has a pretty good head on his shoulders. The mystery was interesting, although I figured out the murderer early on. But, I still enjoyed reading how China discovered them. Definitely a series to recommend and catch up on. ...more
My first official “cozy mystery,” and it was enjoyable. Protagonist in this series, China Bayles, ex-Dallas-lawyer now moved to a small Texas town and running an herb shop, was intelligent yet not overpowering. Lots of drinking of tea and descriptions of what everyone is wearing, but the mystery itself was interesting as it unfolded.
Jan 03, 2021 rated it liked it
I came across this series when looking for a mystery book written by an author with january as their birth month, as per the criteria of Calendar of Crime Reading Challenge.
What a delightful find.
Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, texas
Good mystery with useful herbal lore thrown in. As the story goes on and the deaths accumulate, a sleepy town gets pretty exciting.
Susan Pola Staples
The first China Bayles book, THYME OF DEATH, is a delight. Not only is the title a clever play on herbs and murder, it's set in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

China Bayles is a forty-two ex-Houstonian who two years ago quit the prestigious law firm in which she worked for the life of a herb shop owner, Thyme and Seasons Herb Company, in a town surrounded by beautiful peaceful scenery and no warzone of traffic on Houston's I-10. She definitely is a feminist who left the practise of law (althoug
May 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Susan Wittig Albert is a talented writer--everything is well done: characters, plot, dialog, description, clues, pacing, style. So why didn't I like this book more? Well, maybe it is just too "modern" for me. I don't like my heroine behaving the way China Bayles does. I am irritated at her for treating sexual relationships with such casual disdain that she uses her boyfriend for physical gratification at the same time as she is manipulating things so that he cannot push her for a permanent commi ...more
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Like most mysteries, I enjoyed the buildup and intrigue more than the resolution. It seems like it's always more fun to wonder than to know.

The cast of characters was interesting, and I really took a liking to China, I have definitely been tempted at times to quit working for the man and go off to do something interesting and potentially more emotionally fulfilling like going off to run an herb shop. I liked that the author didn't have China rely on information from convenient law enforcement fr
Sarah Sammis
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Sarah by: GoodReads
See the big plot twist involves a bisexual woman falling in love with a lesbian and being killed over it. The love affair wasn't the exact reason behind the murder but it's there as the big damn red homophobic/biphobic herring. Pages and pages and pages are wasted on China reeling from the revelation that some of her friends were closer than she knew and then idling imaging what their relationship must have been like. Ugh. Just stop and make the book fifty pages shorter, please.

Oct 21, 2015 rated it did not like it
I so enjoy this type of book and was excited to start this series.

But I hadn't even made it past the first chapter before the "f"
word arrived. Boy, was I bummed..

I'm no prud, but as a Christian I do like books without the "F"
word in it, or the Lord's name being taken in vain, etc.

I'm always greatly disappointed, and amazed, when someone who
has several degrees under their belt, can't think of a polite
way to express themselves, without having to stoop to vulgar
teen talk...

Will never pick up a
Toni berkshire
Sep 15, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: mystery readers
Started this in the first of China Bayles series because I liked the Beatrix Potter mysteries under pen name of Susan Wittig Albert, however not so fond of this first book. Don't especially like the setting, Texas, nor the "NOW" styles of some of the characters. Will give the series another chance with the second book in the series and will also try the series written with her husband under name of Robin Paige. Hoping for better ...more
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Around the Year i...: Thyme of Death, by Susan Wittig Albert 1 14 Jul 19, 2016 08:38PM  

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Susan is the author/co-author of biographical/historical fiction, mysteries, and nonfiction. Now in her 80s and continuing to write, she says that retirement is not (yet) an option. She publishes under her own imprint. Here are her latest books.

A PLAIN VANILLA MURDER, #27 in the long-running China Bayles/Pecan Springs series.

Two Pecan Springs novella trilogies: The Crystal Cave Trilogy (featuring

Other books in the series

China Bayles (1 - 10 of 28 books)
  • 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)
  • Indigo Dying (China Bayles, #11)

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