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Authors: Susan Wittig Albert

Dead Man's Bones

BOOK: Dead Man's Bones
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Table of Contents
 
 
Susan Wittig Albert’s exciting mysteries have been praised as “unique” (
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
) and “fascinating” (
Booklist
). Now, a dead man’s bones are uncovered—and Texas ex-lawyer and herbalist China Bayles must dig into a pair of murders separated by time but connected by motive . . .
 
When China’s teenage son finds some skeletal remains during a local cave dig—remains that show a not-so-accidental death—it’s a disturbing development. But China doesn’t let it distract her from the opening of the new community theater donated by the elderly Obermann sisters. Unfortunately, the haughty, bullying Jane Obermann—and her frail, frightened younger sister—made the donation with a condition: that the first production be a play written by Jane about their aristocratic family history.
The premiere party ends with a bang when a ne’er-do-well local handyman is shot dead by Jane while breaking into the Obermann estate. It seems like a clear-cut case of self-defense. But China senses something else going on behind the scenes. Now, the key to catching a killer might be the mysterious bones in the cave—a clue from the past that could help China solve a mystery in the present . . .
 
“ONE OF THE MOST ENDEARING AND PERSONABLE AMATEUR SLEUTHS.”
—Midwest Book Review
 
“SUCH A JOY . . . AN INSTANT FRIEND.”

Carolyn G. Hart
Acclaim for Susan Wittig Albert’s
Dead Man’s Bones . . .
“China’s warmth and sensitivity . . . will endear her to readers, while her investigative skills make her a leader among female sleuths. Fascinating information about herbs and tempting recipes round out this leisurely cozy with a Southwestern flair.”
—Publishers Weekly
 
“China Bayles is always trying to teach us stuff: it’s not annoying at all but somehow soothing and fascinating . . . An enjoyable journey.”
—Booklist
 
A Dilly of a Death . . .
“More than just a whodunit . . . readers will relish this more-sweet-than-sour adventure.”
—Booklist
 
“Add another fragrant bloom to the dozen already in the bouquet of Albert’s herbal cozies.”
—Publishers Weekly
 
Indigo Dying . . .
“Albert’s skill in weaving everything together into a multilayered whole makes the reading smooth, interesting, and enjoyable.”
—San Antonio Express-News
 
“Accomplished . . . The heart of the book is the detailed depiction of small-town life in Indigo, which separates the novel from genre fodder by providing a rich context for the mystery. The satisfying ending is icing on the cake.”
—Publishers Weekly
 
Bloodroot . . .
“Albert has created captivating new characters and a setting dripping with atmosphere.”
—Publishers Weekly
Mistletoe Man . . .
“Ms. Albert artfully uses Texas language patterns to bring the down-home town of Pecan Springs alive with eccentrics in abundance.”
—The Dallas Morning News
 
“Breezy ... The characters are an appealing bunch . . . Albert also provides lots of interesting lore about mistletoe . . . A nice book to curl up with on a blustery day, perhaps with a cup of Christmas tea.”
—Chicago Tribune
 
“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, and her writing sparkles.”
—Publishers Weekly
(starred review)
 
Praise for the China Bayles mystery series . . .
“[China Bayles is] such a joy . . . an instant friend.”

Carolyn G. Hart
 
“A treat for gardeners who like to relax with an absorbing mystery.”
—North American Gardener
 
“One of the best-written and well-plotted mysteries I’ve read in a long time.”
—Los Angeles Times
 
“Albert’s characters are as real and as quirky as your next-door neighbor.”
—The Raleigh News & Observer
 
“Mystery lovers who also garden will be captivated by this unique series.”
—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
 
“Realistic, likable characters.”
—Chicago Tribune
 
“Lively and engaging.”
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
 
“Gripping.”
—Library Journal
 
“Cause for celebration.”
—Rocky Mount (NC) Telegram
China Bayles Mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert
THYME OF DEATH
WITCHES’ BANE
HANGMAN’S ROOT
ROSEMARY REMEMBERED
RUEFUL DEATH
LOVE LIES BLEEDING
CHILE DEATH
LAVENDER LIES
MISTLETOE MAN
BLOODROOT
INDIGO DYING
AN UNTHYMELY DEATH
A DILLY OF A DEATH
DEAD MAN’S BONES
 
With her husband, Bill Albert, writing as Robin Paige
DEATH AT BISHOP’S KEEP
DEATH AT GALLOWS GREEN
DEATH AT DAISY’S FOLLY
DEATH AT DEVIL’S BRIDGE
DEATH AT ROTTINGDEAN
DEATH AT WHITECHAPEL
DEATH AT EPSOM DOWNS
DEATH AT DARTMOOR
DEATH AT GLAMIS CASTLE
DEATH IN HYDE PARK
DEATH AT BLENHEIM PALACE
DEATH ON THE LIZARD
 
Beatrix Potter Mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert
THE TALE OF HILL TOP FARM
THE TALE OF HOLLY HOW
 
Nonfiction books by Susan Wittig Albert
WRITING FROM LIFE
WORK OF HER OWN
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr. Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written. The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision. The publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes contained in this book.
 
DEAD MAN’S BONES
 
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
Copyright © 2005 by Susan Wittig Albert.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form
without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in
violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-0-425-20425-2
 
BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design
are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 

http://us.penguingroup.com

A NOTE TO THE READER
Some of the herbs in this book have traditionally been used in the treatment of human illness, and I often refer to these practices, usually as a matter of historical interest. Before you start using any plant medicines, however, you should read as much as you can and consult with professional herbalists. Please do not use this novel as a guide to herbal therapy. China Bayles and I have a great deal of confidence in the healing qualities of plants, but neither of us would presume to prescribe them to treat whatever ails you.
It’s my job to make Pecan Springs, China Bayles, and her friends seem very real to you, and I hope I’ve succeeded. Please note, however, that this book is a work of fiction, and all names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner.
Nobody can write a mystery series without a lot of help from friends. For this book, I relied on special dental advice from John L. Wilbur, D.D.S., of Austin, Texas; and (as always) the editorial assistance of my husband and coauthor (in our Robin Paige series), Bill Albert. Thanks, guys. I would also like to thank the women of the Story Circle Network, who are my constant friends and supporters, always ready to offer a cup of tea and a cookie (real or virtual) when I need it. China, Ruby, and I would especially like to thank Peggy Moody and Paula Yost, best girlfriends.
—Susan Wittig Albert
Chapter One
“Dead Man’s Bones” is the folk name given to the herb Greater stitchwort (
Stellaria holostea
), a perennial plant found in damp, shady places throughout Europe. It grows to about three feet, with long, dagger-shaped leaves. The starry white blossoms appear in late spring, when thickets of the blooming plant brighten the shady woods.
BOOK: Dead Man's Bones
6.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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