BLOOD ORANGE, by Susan Wittig Albert

This is #24 in the China Bayles/Pecan Springs cozy mystery series.

In all series (the ever-wacky Stephanie Plum instantly springs to mind) there comes a time for the author (even a highly successful one like Ms. Albert) to take a step back and look at what's happening. This is the feeling with this book. To start with, the exhaustive information about various plants was distracting. It's a thick book, and maybe could've used some pruning? And then a few over-familiar plot devices and one particularly egregious moment of mind-boggling stupidity on our plucky heroine's part really loused up what could've been a good read.
China Bayles' new tenant, Kelly Kaufman, employed as a nurse, has a couple of serious problems, one of which she wants to ask China about. But the nurse, going through a nasty separation from her husband, is killed when her car goes off the road en route to China's. Back up a bit. She is injured, but takes several days to die. While her tenant is on life-support, China's relationship with her absent husband may be the same. He's out of town but not where he told China he'd be.
China's being lied to on all fronts, as she discovers Kelly's employment was misrepresented. Then Kelly's paperwork surfaces and things get even murkier. I was on a cruise ship, with limited reading options, so I finished this. But I do hope it is not representative of Albert's writing and plotting. I thought there was too much evidence of hasty writing and not-so-hot editing. But it's #24 in the series so Albert's doing something right!

I'll give this a 3. It should've been more, but that scene in the garage was just too, too TSTL (Too Stupid To Live).