A pragmatic former lawyer finds it hard to believe that her store is haunted.
China Bayles retired from the bar to run Thyme and Seasons, a store that sells all things herbal and floral to the citizens of Pecan Springs, Texas. Ruby, the best friend who runs the Crystal Cave in part of China’s historic building, asks her to help clean out the old attic storeroom that’s the only part of the property not in use. After moving a lot of junk, they discover a wooden chest with the flower Queen Anne’s lace carved on the lid and filled with beautiful pieces of handmade lace. China is spooked at hearing someone humming as they work. They both smell fresh lavender, but Ruby doesn’t hear the humming even though she’s the one who believes in mystical things. Ringing store bells, whiffs of lavender, and a glimpse of a strange woman make China wonder whether she’s going crazy or ghosts actually exist. As her curiosity, which has been finely honed in cases ranging from theft to murder (Bittersweet, 2015, etc.), gets the best of her, she begins a search for the former owners of her building, starting with photos and clippings she found with the lace. As China searches for clues to her haunting, Albert treats readers to stories of 1880s tragedies that may be causing the ghostly manifestation in the present. China, whose detective husband is out of town, also has her hands full helping Caitie, their adopted daughter, get her chickens, Dixie Chick and Extra Crispy, ready for the County Fair, where Crispy is bird-napped and China led into unexpected danger.
One of China’s more interesting adventures weaves a tragic past into the fabric of Pecan Springs while indicating some clever and dangerous uses for botanicals.