by Jo A. Hiestand
GENRE: British mystery
Ex-police detective Michael McLaren is determined to have a peaceful holiday after the fiasco of his first attempt at Windermere, so he stops at a bed-and-breakfast in Moorton, a village in Cumbria. But mystery and murder seek him out, and he soon succumbs to the B&B owner’s plea to investigate the year-old death of her daughter’s fiancé, a young musician.
The Lake District parish seems peaceful, but a rival musician’s jealousy and a business partner’s anger boil beneath the façade. Mix that with ‘Barmy Barry’s’ sightings of fairy lights at the castle, references to Uther Pendragon's return and the secrets in the woods, and McLaren finds his sanity shaky.
When the vicar is attacked and Barry disappears, McLaren sets a trap for the killer. But as it plays out, his concern shifts from the potential capture to praying he and his friend can escape with their lives.
“Lilwen and Jack saw Hadley alive at eleven-thirty, and Stuart closed the pub a half hour later and found him at one. Where’d Hadley go in those ninety minutes?”
“Less than that, Mrs. Deakyn. Hadley had to walk or drive somewhere, be killed, and then found.”
“The police and Stuart said his car was in the pub’s car park, so he either had to walk or get a lift with someone. I know that doesn’t help much.”
“I suppose nothing suggested itself from the search of Hadley’s car. No fingerprints, strange DNA or the like.”
“I never heard, and I think the police would’ve said.”
McLaren nodded and mumbled that he was running out of ideas. “Is it possible someone killed him close to the beck and then dumped his body into it, as a good way to get rid of the evidence?”
Gemma made a sound halfway between a choke and a sob before she said, “The police couldn’t come up with any reason to murder him in the wood, for instance, and then transport his body to the stream. They found it odd that someone would add that chance of being caught with…a body. They said it would’ve made more sense to leave it where the…murder happened.”
“So, where’s a spot near the stream where no one would hear a gun shot?”
Rich in mythical and historical detail, this British mystery was an engaging read. McLaren, reeling from a recent case gone tragically wrong, is taking some time off. His vague destination is Whitby, on the Yorkshire coast. However, poor driving conditions, the late hour, and a close call land him in the small hamlet of Moorton, instead. Intending to continue on his journey the next morning, the ex-police detective is told about a year-old unsolved murder and becomes interested in the local attractions. With no firm plans, he winds up staying in Moorton; taking in the sights, becoming more curious about the area, and finally deciding to look into the cold-case.
I enjoyed meeting the townsfolk and touring the countryside with McLaren as he interviewed people and traipsed about. As his stay lengthens and his investigation heats up, McLaren is attacked, and more violence erupts. Mclaren remains dogged in his pursuit of the truth. The eclectic mix of history and suspicious events keep the story moving forward and kept me wondering about the outcome. The setting, historical artifacts, hidden activity, and a mild romance all come together beautifully in this well-structured mystery.
This is the 8th novel in the McLaren mystery series but read easily as a stand-alone. I liked McLaren a lot though, and I am interested in reading more from this series.
Reviewed by Laurie-J
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
A month-long trip to England during her college years introduced Jo to the joys of Things British. Since then, she has been lured back nearly a dozen times, and lived there during her professional folksinging stint. This intimate knowledge of Britain forms the backbone of both the Taylor & Graham mysteries and the McLaren mystery series.
Jo’s insistence for accuracyfrom police methods and location layout to the general “feel” of the areahas driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire for research. These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the detail filling the books.
In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.
Her cat, Tennyson, shares her St. Louis home.
Jo A. Hiestand will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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