A Dilly of a Death – Book 12

“Readers will relish this more-sweet-than-sour adventure. Fans of the prolific Albert know that her China Bayles series delivers more than just a whodunit.”
Booklist

China Bayles is in a pickle. The daughter of her best friend, Ruby, has turned up on her doorstep, pregnant and in need of a place to live.

And her otherwise sensible husband has announced that he’s bored with teaching and ready for a career change.

Say “hello” to P.I. Mike McQuaid and Associates. There aren’t actually any “associates” yet – unless you count Ruby and China, of course. But the title does have a nice, official ring to it. His first client is Phoebe the Pickle Queen, owner of the biggest little pickle business in Texas. According to Phoebe, her plant manager is embezzling, and she wants McQuaid to follow the money.”

Meanwhile, Pecan Springs is hosting the annual Picklefest – and this year, China and Ruby are on the planning committee, along with Phoebe. But just days before the festival starts, the Pickle Queen disappears. Some say she sold her business and split; others think the answer may lie with her missing boyfriend. It’s up to McQuaid and China to search for the Pickle Queen – and for clues in a case that promises to leave a very sour taste.

Praise for The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

“Readers will relish this more-sweet-than-sour adventure.”
—Booklist

“Add another fragrant bloom to the dozen already in the bouquet of Albert’s herbal cozies.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A nicely constructed plot, captivating characters and dialogue.”
—Library Journal

Reading Group Guides: A Dilly of a Death – Book 12

Discussion questions for A Dilly of a Death
Warning! Contains spoilers (plot hints).

  1. Like the other China Bayles books, this book has multiple plots–multiple stories braided into a single story. What are they?
  2. What is McQuaid’s story? How does this tie into the central mystery? What do you think of the direction in his life? How is this likely to affect China?
  3. What are Ruby’s and Amy’s story? How are these stories “braided” into the central mystery? How do you feel about the choices Ruby has made? About Amy’s choices?
  4. The China Bayles books do not rely on human violence, as do many other mysteries and thrillers, to make the story tense or dramatic. However, Susan often seems to use the weather to provide drama. In what ways does she use the weather in this book? What role does it play? Can you think of other China Bayles books in which the weather plays a prominent role?
  5. The book’s signature herb is dill, which seems (Susan says) to inevitably lead to pickles. But she also says that there is something intrinsically funny about pickles. What kinds of humor are there in this book? Did you enjoy that aspect of it?
  6. Did you learn anything new about dill in this book? About pickles and pickle-making? And are you impressed by this important fact? If all the pickles consumed each year were placed end to end they would reach the moon and back 8.25 times!
  7. Susan did the research on the pickle process at Goldin Pickle Company, in Garland TX. She says that it rained cats and dogs on the day she was there (do you think that influenced the weather in her book?), and that Steve Collette, the owner of the company and a past president of the American Pickle Packers Association, was a great help to her.
  8. Another suggestion: check out the pickle jokes on Susan’s website. Which are your favorites?

Your reading group might enjoy refreshments made from some of Susan’s recipe collection.