Published April 7, 2015; Berkley
The blue and white Cessna 172 dropped out of the gray November sky. The pilot banked sharply, slowing to eighty knots, then turned on the carburetor heat and powered back to 1500 rpm. When he made the field, he extended another ten degrees of flaps, dropped his airspeed to seventy, and corrected for the crosswind that blew off the cliff to the west. He powered back, leveled off, and touched down at the end of the grassy north-south strip The landing was bumpy but no rougher than usual...
It’s Thanksgiving in Pecan Springs, and China Bayles is planning to visit her mother, Leatha, and her mother’s husband, Sam, who are turning their former game ranch into a vacation retreat for birders. 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 her full story, her car veers off a deserted road and she is killed.
Meanwhile, when a local veterinarian is shot, China's friend Mack Chambers believes his murder could be related to fawns stolen from a nearby ranch. China wonders 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…
My comments and recommendations:
The only part of Texas I have ever visited is Brownsville on the border with Mexico, so it was very interesting to read more about that state in this novel, Bittersweet. The birding is glorious, but also interesting are other events, such as the craze for game hunting on special ranches that import and breed deer for this sport.
More than invasive species of plants is at stake here. Deer and fawn are being imported from other states, which is illegal. A fascinating story and an equally fascinating mystery that is tied in to game hunting in Texas. I assume that this importing and breeding of deer is factual and incorporated into the mystery. A great read on many levels.
Objective rating: 5/5
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.