“A tantalizing plot, a surprise ending, and some great dialogue. Along the way, [Albert] delivers witty reflections on flowers and herbs, Texas Rangers, beauty parlors and ‘big hair,’ and the special attractions of the Texas hill country.”
“Good riddance” is the response of most Pecan Springs residents to the murder of Edgar Coleman, a local real estate shark found shot to death in his garage. With the small-town gossip mill running full tilt, it doesn’t take long for China to learn that Coleman had numerous affairs and was blackmailing City Council members for their votes on a bad land development deal.
But the timing of this particular crime couldn’t be worse, for China’s wedding to long-time lover Mike McQuaid is just a few days away and she’s busy making the last-minute arrangements. With McQuaid now serving as interim police chief, and the suspect list growing longer by the minute, China can forget about a honeymoon—unless she can locate the killer.
If you love lavender, you’re not alone in your passion. The clean, refreshing scent of its delicate flowers was cherished by the Egyptians (who used it to make mummies), the Phoenicians, the Greeks, and the Romans (who called it lavender, from their verb lavere, to wash), and by gardeners everywhere. The plant has been used to scent soaps, cosmetics, potpourris, and sachets. You can also use it in your bath, or put a few drops of essential oil on your hair brush. You can even use it to flavor cookies and cakes, make tangy vinegars and punches, and brew fragrant teas. You can also weave lavender hearts.
Praise for The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries
“Mistletoe Man deals with new marriages, estranged friendships, and the mature knowledge that one person cannot save the world but can make it a bit better for everyone. The personal side enhances a fantastic mystery filled with curves that leave the reader guessing until the end, a trademark of Ms. Albert.”
“The pace is as peppy as a Texas two-step…Albert’s dialogue and characterizations put her in a class with lady sleuths V.I. Warshawski and Stephanie Plum… Throughout this intricately plotted and deliciously descriptive tale, China proves herself intelligent, independent, persistent and compassionate. This is a funny, human story that will give Albert’s admirers a ringing jingle bell romp.”
“Mystery lovers who also garden will be captivated by this unique series.”
“A treat for gardeners who like to relax with an absorbing mystery.”
—North American Gardener
Reading Group Guides: Lavender Lies – Book 8
Discussion questions for Lavender Lies
Warning! Contains spoilers (plot hints).
- In this series, Susan Albert has created a “story arc” (a term often used by film makers to describe the overall story) that carries China’s life story forward from book to book. Lavender Lies represents the ending point of one story line and the beginning of another. What stories are these?
- China’s wedding is central to this book. What role does lavender play in the preparations and in the event? Were you suprised to learn that lavender also has a more sinister meaning?
- In Chapter 9, China makes one of her rare trips to Bobby Rae’s House of Beauty. The scene is a mix of comic and serious elements. What does China learn in this trip to the beauty parlor that takes her closer to the book’s central mystery?
- Some minor characters play major roles in this book. Choose a favorite minor character and describe what you find interesting about this person.
- Love, in its various healthy and toxic aspects, is a central theme of this book. Describe some of the ways people are affected by “love” (or what they think of as love) in Lavender Lies.
- In the end, China and McQuaid are married at last. Are you glad, or sad? Why?
Your reading group might enjoy refreshments made from some of Susan’s recipe collection. Or you can try this recipe for tasty lavender-flavored muffins:
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup applesauce
- ½ stick of butter
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another. Add the wet to the dry, stirring only until the dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Fill greased muffin tin (or paper muffin cups). Bake about 20 minutes, until golden. Makes 1 dozen.