An herbal expert and a game warden pool their knowledge to solve a crime.
China Bayles and her family head for remote Uvalde County, Texas, where her mother, Leatha, lives on a ranch with her second husband, Sam, who’s currently in the hospital with heart problems. China, who owns the Thyme and Seasons Herb Shop, is hauling plants for a friend’s garden, and she's looking forward to seeing her friend Mackenzie Chambers, a local game warden. Leatha and Sam plan to open a guesthouse for birders, but with Sam so ill, Leatha’s happy to get some help from Sue Ellen Krause, a perky cowgirl eager to escape her abusive husband, who works at Three Gates Game Ranch, one of the many places in Texas where people can hunt tame animals bred for their trophy racks. There’s big money in canned hunting, and Sue Ellen knows that her husband and two of his friends are involved in something illegal. Since China’s still a lawyer, Sue Ellen asks her for advice but never tells her the whole story. In the meantime, Mack meets a crusty local veterinarian who says he’s seen tattooed fawns on a ranch where they’re not supposed to be. But he’s equally stingy with details. All trophy hunt ranches must have escape-proof fences and tattoo all their animals, many of them exotic varieties that could ruin the genetics of the local animal population. When the old veterinarian is shot and killed, China and Mack compare what they know and find a disturbing solution.
Not the best of China’s many cases (Cat’s Claw, 2012, etc.) but a compelling look at the ethics of canned hunting.