Thyme of Death: 08/09/17
Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert is the start of the China Bayles mystery series. China runs a herb shop in Pecan Springs, Texas and is roped into solving a murder when a mutual friend, Jo, is found dead. The authorities have ruled it a suicide since she was sick with cancer but everyone close to her refuses to believe she would take her own life.
Early on (as in the first chapter or two) China over hears a loud argument. Maybe if you're new to cozies, or you're reading while being distracted, you won't notice. Otherwise, obvious clue is obvious. I'm talking Scooby-Doo, you meddling kids, obvious. All that's left to get through, then is about 200 pages of the why behind the crime.
And that's where the book comes off as dated. Not just in it feels like a book published in the early 1990s, but the author's own age and prejudices come screaming through even when they are in opposition to China's character sheet.
See the big plot twist involves a bisexual woman falling in love with a lesbian and being killed over it. The love affair wasn't the exact reason behind the murder but it's there as the big damn red homophobic/biphobic herring. Pages and pages and pages are wasted on China reeling from the revelation that some of her friends were closer than she knew and then idling imaging what their relationship must have been like. Ugh. Just stop and make the book fifty pages shorter, please.