Nightshade – Book 16

“Quirky, enlightening and surprisingly profound, Albert’s China Bayles mysteries are an absolute delight to read: head and shoulders above most other amateur whodunits.”
Ransom Notes

China’s herb shop and catering business may be thriving, but she’s still reeling from her father’s death, and not even remotely interested in her half-brother Miles’s investigation into that event. China’s husband, on the other hand, has no such qualms. And when fate forces her to get involved as well, China realizes it’s time to bring the past to light—or else it will haunt her the rest of her life.

But China and McQuaid discover that Miles may have been keeping as many secrets as he seemed determined to uncover. How deep do the layers of secrecy go? And who has a stake in concealing the truth after sixteen years?

Read Chapter 1 – Nightshade


Nightshade is one of the over two thousand plants that belong to the Solanaceae. This plant family includes such edible plants as the tomato, potato, eggplant, and chile pepper; decorative plants such as the petunia; and toxic plants such as datura (Jimson weed), tobacco, henbane, mandrake, and deadly nightshade, also known as belladonna.

Over the centuries, the nightshade family has gotten a very bad rap—which is a pity, because it ranks high on the list of plant families that people have found extremely useful. It’s hard to imagine our menus without potatoes, tomatoes, chile peppers, and eggplant, or picture our gardens without the showy petunias that splash color all over the landscape. Surgeons of antiquity, who relied on plant narcotics for anesthesia, found both the mandrake and deadly nightshade indispensable when they needed to put people to sleep—although they no doubt lost a few patients in the process.

On the other hand, the nightshade family also includes the notoriously addictive tobacco, that great cash crop that has made some people hugely rich and millions of people desperately sick, and three narcotic plants that have long been associated with soothsaying, black magic, and witchcraft. It’s this side of the Solanum family—the dark side—that has given these herbs such an evil reputation.
©2008 Susan Wittig Albert

Praise for The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

“China’s followers will delight in the complicated relationships, recipes and historical flower information.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“China’s warmth and sensitivity…endear her to readers, while her investigative skills make her a leader among female sleuths…A leisurely cozy with a Southwestern flair.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A diabolically clever sleuth…China and Ruby make Batman and Robin look like amateurs.”
—Harriet Klausner

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

Reading Group Guide Nightshade

Recipes from Nightshade

Click above for the PDF of the recipes from the book. Print or download and share with friends.