Mourning Gloria

June 3, 2012 - Mourning Gloria (Susan Wittig Albert). This adventure draws Pecan Springs, Texas herb shop owner China Bayles into the dangerous world of drug smuggling.

The story begins as China is on her way home and passes a burning mobile home. She hears a woman inside, screaming for help, but China can't save her. Though the woman's identity is a mystery, the gruesome details of her death are soon clear: Someone tied her up, shot her, left her for dead, and torched the trailer.

The crime intrigues China, and she feels a personal responsibility because she was unable to save the victim. It also leaves a deep impression on a young reporter named Jessica. A family tragedy in her past drives her to pursue this story with what turns out to be a dangerous intensity. Soon, China finds herself trying to prevent Jessica from meeting a fate similar to that of the woman in the trailer.

Overall, not a bad read. China is pretty much on her own here as her husband is out of town and her sidekick, Ruby, is left to hold down the fort at the shops. By talking to the right people and asking the right questions, China discovers the identity of the fire victim and uncovers the motive behind her murder. If I have one complaint, I guess it's that Jessica, the cub reporter, and China end up doing the investigative work that the police should have been doing. China always seems to make a point of saying how competent local law enforcement is (she calls her friend, the police chief, "Smart Cookie"), yet, in this case, they didn't have a clue unless China handed it to them on a silver platter.