Indigo Dying – Book 11

“A wonderful character…smart, real, and totally a woman of the nineties.”
Mostly Murder

Indigo was once a thriving community, but times have been tough on this Texas town. Now, as artists flock to the countryside, Indigo is coming back to life, and China is committed to helping the Save Historic Indigo Committee resurrect it.

But the town’s new life–and the lifestyles of the bohemian entrepreneurs and older residents of the community–is put in jeopardy when Casey Ford, a reviled but powerful Indigo resident, concocts a plan to sell the coal-mining rights to a national conglomerate, a scheme that would allow him to evict most of the store owners in town once the deal is done. Ford is murdered days before he signs the agreement. China finds herself stymied in her investigation of the murder by a town full of suspects who close ranks as they celebrate Ford’s sudden death.

This is a town with dark secrets, and it takes the teamwork of China and Ruby to bring them to light.

Praise for The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

“Albert’s characters are as real and as quirky as your next-door neighbor.”
—The Raleigh News & Observer

“Albert’s dialogue and characterizations put her in a class with lady sleuths V.I. Warshawski and Stephanie Plum.”
—Publishers Weekly

Indigo Proverbs

“I would rather wear my indigo wrapper than a rich red cloak that isn’t mine.”
—African proverb

“One drop of indigo is enough to turn a whole bowl of milk blue.”
—Japanese proverb

“Blue from indigo is bluer than the indigo plant.”
—Chinese saying

“I’m just a soul who’s bluer than blue can be.”
—”Mood Indigo”

Reading Group Guides: Indigo Dying – Book 9

Discussion questions for Indigo Dying
Warning! Contains spoilers (plot hints).

  1. This book takes place in the small Texas town of Indigo. Where is it located? What’s it like? What are its challenges? How do the residents plan to meet them? Does Indigo remind you of small towns you’ve visited or lived in?
  2. The strip mine that is described in the book is real, Susan says in her “Note to the Reader.” She adds, “My descriptions of the mine’s operation, its proposed expansion, and its terrible effects on the environment and the surrounding countryside are factually accurate.” Does the fact that the mine is real add to your interest? Do you view this real situation any differently than you would if the situation were fictional?
  3. China confronts several mysteries in this book. What is the central mystery? Which are the peripheral mysteries? How are they related? Does this kind of multiple plotting add to your enjoyment of the book?
  4. The book’s title is a pun (on dyeing/dying) and points toward a major theme of the book: uses of color. There’s also a great deal of information about herbs used for dyeing. Do these “extras” distract you from the story, or do you think that they support the story?
  5. What “dye facts” did you find most interesting? most informative? most surprising?
  6. What does it mean to “change your colors”? To “fly under false colors”? To be “dyed in the wool”? How do these phrases relate to the central mystery?
  7. Near the end of Chapter 17, China muses:“Later, when I thought about the sad events of that long and tragic afternoon, I would wonder about the synchronicity of experience, as Ruby calls it. Or maybe it’s just the sheer randomness of the world, the multiple what-ifs of the way things happen. If . . .”A novelist’s job is to take the “multiple what-ifs” and weave them together into a plot that takes on a feeling of inevitability. Think back on your experience of the book. At what point did the plot develop a sense of inevitability for you—a sense that things (no matter how surprising) were destined to happen? Does this fit into any of the book’s themes, do you think?

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