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A Plain Vanilla Murder and Hemlock

Now that your outside garden has been put to bed for the winter, take some time to relax and read some entertaining plant fiction. As reviewer Gail Maifeld explains, reading the mysteries - “A Plain Vanilla Murder” and “Hemlock” by Susan Wittig Albert, is not only fun, it’s educational.

Written by Susan Wittig Albert
Reviewed by Gail Maifeld

A Plain Vanilla Murder and Hemlock

The garden is put to bed so put your feet up with two delicious mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert:  A Plain Vanilla Murder and Hemlock.  Both mysteries incorporate the titled herbs as the premise for the mystery plot and are the two latest books in The China Bayles mystery series.

A Plain Vanilla Murder takes place in and around the fictious town of Pecan Springs, Texas.  China and Ruby Cox are presenting a workshop entitled Plain Vanilla.  China’s workshops are popular but someone at this workshop has a deadly motive.  China is puzzled when a dear friend’s daughter disappears, a university professor is found murdered, and a fragile, rare orchid is stolen from the professor’s lab.  Much is at stake: plant patent, an orchid that is extinct in the wild, & the life of an innocent girl.  Learn about the most taken for granted herb vanilla.  Did you know it only grows wild in Chili because that is where the unique insect lives that has the physiology to pollinate vanilla?

Hemlock takes China Bayles to the mountains of North Carolina where an old & rare book is missing from the gardening book collection of the Hemlock House Library.  This rare book, A Curious Herbal, was written and illustrated in the 1730’s.  Hemlock is a compelling mix of mystery and herb lore.  A member of the carrot family, hemlock looks like Queen Anne’s Lace and is lethal to humans and animals.  The addition of a haunted house, a ghost, the local Hemlock Society, and a shooting, all create an absorbing novel.

Learn about Vanilla and Hemlock while enjoying a mysterious romp that includes red herrings and suspicious characters.

Photo Credit: Gail Mailfeld (1,2)

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