Monday, March 10, 2008

Nightshade by Susan Witting Albert

First off, a few things about Susan Wittig Albert. She’s a phenomenal author who has written an amazing number of books. Okay, enough with the superlatives. Here are some facts: she’s a best-selling author; she writes multiple series; she writes both fiction and nonfiction; she’s the founder of the national organization, Story Circle Network.

Her latest book, Nightshade, is the sixteenth in her China Bayles mystery series. The books are popular with herbalists and those cooks who love using herbs because each book is anchored by an herb that’s related to the theme, the protagonist is an herbalist, and Susan includes lots of information about the featured herb as well as recipes. The books are popular with everyone else because they’re well-written.

I considered myself very lucky to have received an Advance Reading Copy of Nightshade. I have to admit, when I opened the package, one of the first things I did dance to my computer to email my sister to tell her. She’s a great fan of the series. The next thing I did was start reading.

Nightshade does not disappoint. Her characters, China, Ruby, McQuaid, and others, are like old friends. Even if it’s been years since you’ve read a China Bayles book, you can easily slide back into their lives. In addition to believable characters and interesting plots, Albert’s books really make use of their settings. Pecan Springs is totally real to the reader.

Quite a bit of Nightshade also takes place in Austin. I’ve lived in the Austin area for 21 years, and I learned things about my town that I didn’t know. For me, such discoveries were like little treasures.

Nightshade deals with secrets from China’s past. She has no choice but to dig into her father’s life and death. In the process of uncovering the secrets, she and McQuaid take you along on their quest for the truth and answers.

If you’re a fan of Susan Wittig Albert, her books, or her writing skill, you’ll want to come back to Straight From Hel on April 2nd when Susan will be the Featured Author. She’s stopping by on her blog book tour to speak on “Pecan Springs: Growing a Town.” Plus, just for Straight From Hel readers, there will be a drawing for a free book.

And don’t forget to come this Thursday when Lynda Sappington will be our March Featured Author. She’ll be talking about her writing, her art and her fantasy novel “Star Sons – Dawn of the Two.” (And Lynda will also be holding a drawing – for two of her books.)


  1. Hi,
    I was wondering if China would have to spend time in Austin for a mystery. So many new characters could be added. Plus, we might see the high power lawyer China pop up. I'm always suprised when that side of her come through.

    Thank you for hosting the blog I have added you great website to my favorites.
    Mary in CNY

  2. I always enjoying romping through an author's fictional town, especially when the author is like Susan and can make the town seem so real. But it's always fun to have a character visit a real town that you, the reader, knows well. Thanks for stopping by, Mary.



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