Cat's Claw (A Pecan Springs Mystery)
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written. The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision. The publisher is not responsible for any adverse reaction to the recipes contained in this book.
Copyright © 2012 by Susan Wittig Albert.
Interior text design by Tiffany Estreicher.
All rights reserved.
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FIRST EDITION : March 2012
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Albert, Susan Wittig.
Cat’s claw / Susan Wittig Albert.
p. cm. — (A pecan springs mystery ; 1)
1. Bayles, China (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Women police chiefs—Fiction.
3. Women detectives—Fiction. I. Title.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
For Bill, always and ever
partner, lover, husband, best friend
A Note to the Reader
When I began the China Bayles mysteries in 1992, I chose to write in China’s voice, in a story-telling mode in which the tale is told by one person, from a single first-person point of view. Over the intervening years (
is the twentieth book in the series), I’ve found that this choice has sometimes limited the kind of stories I can tell. China Bayles is observant (by nature and because of her legal training), she knows a great deal about a great many things, and she’s always glad to tell us what she knows and what she thinks. But like the rest of us, China views events through a screen of her personal experience and preconceptions, so the story slants strongly toward her likes and dislikes (which readers occasionally confuse with my own). Her stories are necessarily about
As the series has gone on, however, other interesting characters have emerged, together with tantalizing fragments of their stories. And while I like China Bayles very much, I’ve often found that some of these other stories are every bit as interesting as hers. In
, for instance, part of the mystery is set in 1912 and the characters who lived in the Shaker village during that year tell their part of the story, with the help of journal entries, letters, and newspaper clippings. In
, Mike McQuaid tells a story that goes back to the time before he met China, when he was married to Sally, Brian’s mother. Now, in
, Sheila Dawson takes center stage, and we get a glimpse into the life of Pecan Springs’ female police chief, who not only has a crime to clear and a criminal to bring to justice, but political, professional, and personal conflicts to resolve.
But this is still China’s
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