Murder With Southern Hospitality:
An Exhibition of Mississippi Mysteries

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Segregation & Civil Rights

Susan Wittig Albert

Bloodroot (2001) is the tenth volume in the China Bayles series by Susan Wittig Albert about a former criminal attorney who retires from her profession to run a Texas herb shop. The title of each mystery is an herb that symbolically represents the book’s theme. In Bloodroot, a telephone call from her mother in “Chicory” forces the entrepreneur to return to Mississippi and confront a plantation legacy she had long since repudiated:

After I entered high school and began thinking seriously about such matters, I began to hate the plantation and everything it stood for. I declared that I would no longer imagine myself in any way as a product of the Old South, with its brutal treatment of slaves, its contradictory veneration and exploitation of white women, its utter disregard for the dignity of human life. Like other women of my era, I decided to repudiate the patriarchal past and reinvent myself as a new kind of Southern woman, free to make her own choices, build her own life, write her own personal declaration of independence.

In the end, she not only discovered the identity of a killer, but an entirely new branch on her family tree.

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