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A Plain Vanilla Murder–not so plain after all

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A Plain Vanilla Murder

by Susan Wittig Albert

A Plain Vanilla MurderIt is not like me to jump into a cozy mystery series on the twenty-seventh book. Who engages in that kind of craziness anyway? Amazingly, I didn’t find the lapse in character background knowledge to be a problem. While A Plain Vanilla Murder is not the best cozy I’ve ever read, it was very good. I particularly liked all the information provided on vanilla. I had no idea vanilla is part of an orchid plant or that there is such an active trade in exotic orchid plants.

This mystery has lots of threads. A professor is killed, and lots of enemies emerge as possible suspects. Could the motive be professional rivalry, dalliances or orchid laundering? All are sufficient to motivate an attacker, but what really happened? The main character, China Bayles, is a former criminal lawyer. This is one of the few crimes that land on her doorstep that leads her to become involved professionally.

Always interested in learning new things about a subject, I enjoyed the many quotes about vanilla that are included in the chapters as well as in the addendum. Susan Wittig Albert is a prolific writer as evidenced by this series that focuses on herbs and spices as well as the three other series she writes in addition to a number of independent books. I look forward to reading more by this author.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Persevero Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery, Women’s Fiction

Notes: #27 in the China Bayles Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone.

Publication:   June 4, 2019— Persevero Press

Memorable Lines:

Campus politics are labyrinthine. A dispute involving faculty can be vicious, even if it looks like nothing more than a petty turf war over a few inconsequential footnotes in an insignificant publication. It can also be something bigger, dirtier, and deeper.

My first thought was that he was the last person on earth to do such a thing. But of course you can never tell what devils live in somebody’s private hell.

Any time you have to sit down with a cop, you immediately remember the times you’ve jaywalked or parked where you shouldn’t or failed to return a library book and now have a humongous unpaid fine. It’s stupid, of course, but it’s a universal paranoia, and completely understandable.


  1. Shalini says:

    I had been asked to review the book, I was not sure about it since it was mid-series. It seems to be a good read

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      It was pretty good. I think if you are into plants or cooking you might enjoy it even more. I was interested in the Mexico aspect. The cartels here will get into anything that they can make a profit on. A few years ago it was limes (which they call límon). Now it is avocados.


  2. This sounds like one I would love. I send away for vanilla beans and make my own vanilla extract. I wrote a blog about the orchid and homemade vanilla. Here is the link if you want to see more fascinating facts about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      I read your vanilla post. Well done. I think I just figured out a Christmas gift for my husband—I’ll get him the necessaries for making his own vanilla. I think you would enjoy this book. It’s right up your alley!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There’s something daring about jumping into a cozy series twenty-seven books in. Glad it was worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. carhicks says:

    I have shied away from her books for the exact reason you mentioned, too many to catch up on. I am glad that did not pose a problem. The vanilla storyline sounds quite intriguing. I love the last quote you chose Linda, that is so true. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

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