Blood Orange

October 6, 2016 - Blood Orange (Susan Wittig Albert). This 23rd entry in the China Bayles series from Susan Wittig Albert delves into fraud in the health care industry.

There's a lot going on in this story, but the main plot takes off when a woman who has rented China's guest house in Pecan Springs, Texas checks in and then promptly goes missing. That woman, a nursing home worker named Kelly, is then run off the road. She soon dies from injuries suffered in the crash. Kelly's friend, Lara, then contacts China and, together, the two pick up a trail that leads to fraud and murder.

China works the case, in part, to keep her mind off her husband, Mike McQuaid. He and his private investigator partner, Blackie (who happens to be married to the Pecan Springs police chief), have gone on a super-secret job in Mexico. McQuaid didn't tell China anything about what the job entails, and he's not returning her calls, so China's left to imagine the worst.

Overall, this book had a lot going on, and much of it had nothing to do with the main plot. Some avenues that seemed like they might connect, went nowhere. And characters who have played major roles in the past are minimized here to doing little more than minding the store. While all that may ring very true to life, I'm not sure it makes for a good mystery novel. At this point in the series, I'm starting to wonder if maybe the author just needs to let China and friends live their lives in peace.