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Widow's Tears
Cover of Widow's Tears
Widow's Tears
China Bayles Series, Book 21
Herbalist and ex-lawyer China Bayles is "in a class with lady sleuths V. I. Warshawski and Stephanie Plum" (Publishers Weekly). In Widow's Tears, a haunted house may hold the key to solving the murder of one of China's friends...

After losing her family and home in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, Rachel Blackwood rebuilt her house a hundred miles inland and later died there, still wrapped in her grief.

In present-day Texas, Claire, the grandniece of Rachel's caretaker, has inherited the house and wants to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast. But she is concerned that it's haunted, so she calls in her friend Ruby—who has the gift of extrasensory perception—to check it out.

While Ruby is ghost hunting, China Bayles walks into a storm of trouble in nearby Pecan Springs. A half hour before she is to make her nightly deposit, the Pecan Springs bank is robbed and a teller is shot and killed.

Before she can discover the identity of the killers, China follows Ruby to the Blackwood house to discuss urgent business. As she is drawn into the mystery of the haunted house, China opens the door on some very real danger...

Herbalist and ex-lawyer China Bayles is "in a class with lady sleuths V. I. Warshawski and Stephanie Plum" (Publishers Weekly). In Widow's Tears, a haunted house may hold the key to solving the murder of one of China's friends...

After losing her family and home in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, Rachel Blackwood rebuilt her house a hundred miles inland and later died there, still wrapped in her grief.

In present-day Texas, Claire, the grandniece of Rachel's caretaker, has inherited the house and wants to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast. But she is concerned that it's haunted, so she calls in her friend Ruby—who has the gift of extrasensory perception—to check it out.

While Ruby is ghost hunting, China Bayles walks into a storm of trouble in nearby Pecan Springs. A half hour before she is to make her nightly deposit, the Pecan Springs bank is robbed and a teller is shot and killed.

Before she can discover the identity of the killers, China follows Ruby to the Blackwood house to discuss urgent business. As she is drawn into the mystery of the haunted house, China opens the door on some very real danger...

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    WIDOW'S TEARS

    WIDOW'S TEARS

    USA / Canada / UK / Ireland / Australia / New Zealand / India / South Africa / China

    Table of Contents

    Note to the Reader

    Flo-rig'-ra-phy (fl–o-rig'-ra-f–e), n. [L. flos, floris, flower + -graphy.] The language or symbolism of flowering plants, as expressed in historical literature.

    Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language

    People often ask me the question "What exactly is an herb?"

    I've never liked questions that have to be answered "exactly," because I appreciate a little ambiguity and mystery in my life—it makes things much more interesting. That's why I like the Herb Society of America's definition of an herb: "a plant for use and delight." It's an impossibly broad definition, yes. But it's a definition that invites us to explore the widest possible uses of plants to provide taste, scent, medicine, fiber, dye, tools, artifacts, and symbols, from the distant beginnings of human culture to the present time.

    Almost all societies have assigned symbolic meanings to plants. In China, for example, bamboo (which provides medicine, food, building materials, paper, and textiles) represents longevity, strength, and grace. In Hindu cultures, jasmine (used as a medicine, a flavoring, and a fragrance) symbolizes love, while once upon a time in the British Isles, green willow symbolized untrue or immature love.

    Throughout human history, these symbolic meanings have been elaborated in art, poetry, and literature. During the early Victorian period, for instance, wealthy and leisured ladies and gentlemen frequently exchanged floral gifts in which a fanciful "language of flowers" was encoded. As Kathleen Gips puts it in her introduction to Flora's Dictionary: The Victorian Language of Herbs and Flowers, "people expressed flowery thoughts by exchanging bouquets composed of carefully chosen plant words."

    The definitions of these encoded "plant words" or floral symbols—collectively, a florigraphy—were published in Europe and America in an enduring and highly popular literary tradition made up of dozens of elaborate manuals that appeared in multiple editions. At their best, these were attractive, leather-bound volumes with gilt-edged pages and engraved illuminations, occasionally hand-colored. At the end of this book, you'll find some suggestions for further reading that will lead you deeper into the study of florigraphy and its many historical transformations. It's a subject that many garden and literary study groups might find interesting.

    Of course, while herbs and plants are an important thematic and plot element in the books in the series (it's amazing how many mysteries there are in the lives of plants!), you're probably even more interested in the characters. China Bayles, of course, has always been front and center, with her herb shop, her lawyerly logic, and her tendency to be drawn into...well, murder. And, of course, Ruby Wilcox has never been far behind, playing the role of an intuitive Dr. Watson to China's logical Sherlock.

    But now it's Ruby's turn to play Sherlock. Widow's Tears is her story—and it's about time, don't you think? We've already learned about her shop, her family (the daughter she gave up for adoption and who reappeared in Hangman's Root; the mom who has Alzheimer's), and her everyday life. We know about her bout with breast cancer (in Mistletoe Man) and her adventures with the Ouija board (Rosemary Remembered and Bleeding Hearts). In Widow's Tears, Ruby shows us just how good she is at looking...

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 4, 2013
    The bond between China Bayles and her boon friend and business partner, Ruby Wilcox, suffers in Albert’s enjoyable 21st cozy featuring the Pecan Springs, Tex., ex-lawyer and herbalist (after 2012’s Cat’s Claw). Unfolding along with the present-day story is the tragic tale of the horrific Galveston hurricane of 1900 and its impact on Rachel Blackwood; her husband, a bank vice-president; and their five children. Ruby answers a plea for help from old friend Claire Conway, who has inherited the Blackwood family mansion in the tiny town of Round Top. Unnatural occurrences, including ghost sightings, are frustrating Claire’s plans to turn the old place into a B&B. While Claire and Ruby wrestle with spirits, China must deal with Ruby’s pushy sister, Ramona, who’s offering to buy Ruby out completely, a prospect that sends China running to Round Top. As for plant lore, this installment focuses on florigraphy—the language of flowers.

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Widow's Tears
China Bayles Series, Book 21
Susan Wittig Albert
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