The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

A Dilly of a Death (#12)

China's usually sensible husband is bored with teaching and ready for a career change...say hello to Mike McQuaid, P.I. McQuaid's first client is Phoebe the Pickle Queen, owner of the biggest little pickle business in Pecan Springs, Texas. She says her plant manager is embezzling, and she wants McQuaid to follow the money. But just days before the annual Picklefest, Phoebe disappears. And now it's up to China to search for her—and for clues in a case that promises to be a real dilly!

Discussion questions for A Dilly of a Death
Warning! Contains spoilers (plot hints).

Have we got some pickle jokes for you—and not just a few, but an entire barrel of pickled dillies! Read them here.

Here's what reviewers have to say about the China Bayles mysteries!

  • "Readers will relish this more-sweet-than-sour adventure." —Booklist
  • "Add another fragrant bloom to the dozen already in the bouquet of Albert's herbal cozies." —Publishers Weekly
  • "A nicely constructed plot, captivating characters and dialogue." —Library Journal

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A Dilly of an Herb
If you thought dill was just for pickles, think again! Planted in the spring in a well-drained, sunny spot, this fast-growing member of the carrot family will yield a fine summer harvest. The delicate, ferny leaves lend a refreshing tang to potatoes, omelets, carrots, and cucumbers. The aromatic seeds are great with cabbage, fish, soup, and breads. Got witches? Pour them a cup of dill tea, which is said to rob them of their will to harm—a bit of ancient folklore which might have its roots in dill's enduring reputation as a sleep aid. In fact, the word dill comes from the Old Norse word dilla, meaning "to lull into sleep."

A Dilly of a Tomato Soup
  • 1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cups soup stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/3 cup dill vinegar
  • ¼ cup finely minced fresh dill
  • 3-4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • salt and finely-ground pepper, to taste

Place tomatoes, potatoes, onion, stock, and vinegar in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Puree in a blender. Stir in dill, salt, and pepper. Reheat and serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.


Wayne Roswell writes to tell us about his favorite game, Pickleball. "Pickleball is no big dill," he says. "We play with relish. We put mustard on the serve and when we are behind we play catch up. Some communities sour on the game because the plastic ball coming off the paddle creates an annoying noise. Picklers become addicted to the game, I am... My home club's mascot is called Vinnie Q. Cumber and his best friends are Vanessa and Diller."

Thanks, Wayne! The Pecan Springs gang salutes all Pickleball players and wishes them Many Zippy Returns. Obviously, life is never dill when there's a game of Pickleball on the colander. And when you're tired of swatting pickles back and forth and you sit down to a crocked cuke or two, try swapping pickle jokes.

Twelfth book in the series: Indigo Dying

Fourteenth book in the series: Dead Man's Bones