BittersweetBittersweet by Susan Wittig Albert is the 23rd book in the “China Bayles” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, April 2015

It’s Thanksgiving in Pecan Springs, and China is planning to visit her mother, Leatha, and her mother’s husband, Sam, who are enthusiastically embarking on a new enterprise—turning their former game ranch into a vacation retreat for birders. She’s also looking forward to catching up with her friend, game warden Mackenzie “Mack” Chambers, who was recently transferred to the area. But Leatha calls with bad news: Sam has had a heart attack.

How will Leatha manage if Sam can’t carry his share? She does have a helper, Sue Ellen Krause. But China discovers that Sue Ellen, who is in the process of leaving her marriage to the assistant foreman at a large trophy game ranch, is in some serious trouble. Before Sue Ellen can tell China the full story, her car veers off a deserted road and she is killed.

Meanwhile, when a local veterinarian is shot in what appears to be a burglary at his clinic, Mack Chambers believes his murder could be related to fawns stolen from a nearby ranch. As Mack follows the trail, China begins to wonder if Sue Ellen’s death may not have been an accident, and if there’s a connection to the stolen animals. But their search for the truth may put their own lives in danger.

I like it. China is not in Pecan Springs in this adventure but is still pulled into a murder when it hits a bit too close to home. I love the pacing and the comfortable tone of this book which makes the story easy to follow. This was a well-written mystery filled with suspense and intrigue that kept my interest. The author did a great job in keeping me on my toes as I pondered the clues and every time I thought I had a fix on the perpetrators, the author changed direction that kept me glued to the pages as I had to know what the outcome will be. I did enjoy the scenes with China and her mother. This was an enjoyable read and I look forward to China’s next adventure being back in Pecan Springs with the rest of the gang that includes Ruby, Sheila, Blackie and even McQuaid.

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