A police chief and an amateur sleuth combine their talents to solve a series of crimes.
At first, computer expert Larry Kirk’s shooting appears to be suicide. It turns out, however, that he had already been involved in a crime when his shop was broken into. Police Chief Sheila Dawson, who’s handling the case, is fighting the good old boy network in Pecan Springs, Texas, but her friend, defense attorney–turned-herbalist China Bayles, doesn’t call her “smart cookie” for nothing. There’s little mystery about who broke into the computer store: It was local big shot George Timms. Though he was supposed to surrender to police, he vanished instead, making him suspect number one when evidence proves Kirk was murdered. China’s partner in several enterprises lives on the same street as Kirk, and her visiting sister found the body. On a hunch, China visits Timms’ cabin. There she finds evidence of wild parties, child porn and more murder when she stumbles over Timms’ body, who was killed by a mountain lion. Sheila and her staff hunt down clues while China sifts through local gossip the police chief never hears. Once they’ve dug up motives for any number of people, they have to figure out which of them is the guilty party.
Sheila walks off with top honors in China’s latest (Mourning Gloria, 2011, etc.). As usual, the solid mystery is supplemented with herbal wisdom and local Texas recipes.