May 28, 2009 - Nightshade (Susan Wittig Albert). Herb shop owner China Bayles returns for another adventure. This book wraps up a plot line that started a couple books back. It involves China's illegitimate half-brother, Miles, and the circumstances surrounding their father's death.

As the book opens China's husband, McQuaid, is preparing to meet Miles, who has tracked down the car that Miles and China's father was in when he died. But, Miles never makes it to the meeting because he is hit and killed in a parking garage the night before. China, who was wary of Miles, is now fully invested. He's made her executor of his will, so she tackles that duty while also trying to unravel the mystery of Miles' murder. McQuaid pursues the investigation from his end and the two meet for an exciting conclusion.

This book is a little different than the others in the series. Up until now, we've only encountered China's point of view. In this book, Albert mixes in several chapters told from McQuaid's point of view, which seems to make sense. But, it leaves almost no room for the other characters - Ruby, Sheila, et al. - that played more prominent roles in previous books. They show up at the beginning and the end, but the middle is all China and McQuaid.

One thing that remains constant is Albert's style of story-telling. I really like the way she mixes in mundane, everyday details even as her characters focus on solving the mystery. They take time out to eat, call each other and feed the dog. That and Albert's folksy style make China and company seem almost like real people.