Queen Anne’s Lace (China Bayles # 26)
Author: Susan Wittig Albert
Author website: http://www.susanalbert.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Kayt
A present day ghost leads China Bayles to a secret from Pecan Springs’s past in this haunting mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert.
While helping Ruby Wilcox clean up the loft above their shops, China comes upon a box of antique handcrafted lace and old photographs. Following the discovery, she hears a woman humming an old Scottish ballad and smells the delicate scent of lavender….
Soon, strange happenings start to occur in Thyme and Seasons: misplaced items, a ringing bell, and the appearance of lavender sprigs in odd places. When a customer mentions seeing a mysterious woman picking flowers nearby and then suddenly disappearing, China must finally admit what Ruby has always known–their building is haunted. But by whom?
As China investigates, the tragic story of a woman in one of the old photographs unfolds. Annie Laurie was a young widow who’d lost both her husband and her child in the same day. She manages to survive through her lace-making business and finds happiness again only to have a suspicious death overshadow her new life.
China delves into Annie’s century-old mystery and realizes that solving it could have unimaginable repercussions in the here and now.
I have to say the “China Bayles” series is one of the first I read in the cozy vein. I love herbs and herbal information, so this was a perfect fit for me. Author Susan Wittig Albert has a knack for drawing the reader in and letting the story unfold in layers. I love the characters and setting of this series. I would love to own her shop and get my hands dirty. It is hard to believe that Queen Anne’s Lace is the 26thinstallment in this wonderful series. This author is able to keep her books fresh, have continuing development and growth in her characters and write well written and enjoyable mysteries. The latest is easy to read as a standalone or enjoy in order. There are actually two mysteries going on, one about her daughter’s chickens (loved it) and the other about who the ghost may be and what was her life story.
Yes this installment centers around a ghost. Now let me first say I am not a fan of supernatural, ghosts, witches, etc. in my cozy. That said I am not a non-believer, I just do not like them invading my cozy time. Author Wittig Albert has dealt with this ghost in a way that did not turn me off as has happened in others with a supernatural aspect. The ghost is there, humming, people have seen her, but she is not a woo woo ghost. China loves her store, the building and the history. When she helps Ruby clean out some areas in the loft of the shop, China finds some interesting items, including antique lace and photos. She learns that maybe her knowledge of the building’s history is off. There may be more to it and she needs to figure it out.
Annie lived at the end of the 19th century in the house that is now China’s building. She saw enough tragedy to last anyone a lifetime. Her husband and unborn child died the same day. She was a hardworking and intelligent woman that kept herself and others from sinking by her lace making business. As pieces come to light for China, she learns that there is even more to Annie’s story than she thought. Who is the family in the photo? Who is posting different photos and words for her to read? Where is the Scottish song that is being hummed coming from? China works to put all the pieces together and comes away with a wonderful story.
I really enjoyed Queen Anne’s Lace. It touched on a subject that was (in earlier days) controversial. The knowledge of the herb Queen Anne’s Lace was informative and gave the reader an insight into the way things would have been done in the early days. Never boring, always interesting and enjoyable, this book is a true page turner. I loved reading about her daughter and her chickens Extra Crispy and Dixie Chick. I love that every time I read a book by this great author, I come away with not only a fabulous story, but also new knowledge that makes me want to find out more. Her research really makes her books first rate. As I said before, this book really can work as a standalone. I recommend it to anyone that enjoys and intelligent and intriguing mystery.