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Bloodroot: 05/11/21


Bloodroot by Susan Wittig Albert is the tenth book in the China Bayles mystery series. China receives a frantic phone call from her mother and reluctantly agrees to drive back to Mississippi to help. She's expecting to be dealing with her sick Aunt Tullie, but instead has to deal with a missing man, later found murdered, and a possibility of an old property deed resurfacing at an inopportune time.

I honestly should just learn from past books to skip the volumes where the main character ends up traveling, especially when said character is heading home. Another red flag is if the home is one the character has forsaken but now feels compelled (by plot) to revisit. I rarely like these stories and I certainly didn't enjoy this one.

With a travel story the narrative has to do extra leg work with world building and family history. Work already accomplished in previous volumes won't suffice here because it's a new location. But ten volumes in, in this case, means, expectations are high. There's no way Jordan's Crossing can possibly feel as real as Pecan Springs.

This mystery has two main parts. There is deed to a piece of the plantation that at one time would have been prime real estate but no longer is. The second is her aunt's illness which is a genetic thing. Her illness as well as other similar deaths in the family tree suggests some misconceptions as to who is related to whom.

Aunt Tullie's illness from the get-go was an obvious narrative device to get China out of Texas. It was also obvious given its degenerative effects that China wouldn't be a carrier. To make this possible there has to be other family tree secrets. Except, given that they're the descendants of plantation owners, the obvious solution is well, obvious. Understanding that makes the murder mystery an easy thing to solve.

Book eleven is Indigo Dying (2003).

Two stars

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