A Staged Murder
by Jo A. Hiestand
Bonfire Night! The four hundred-year-old tradition of burning the straw effigy is beginning in Upper Kingsleigh, England. The torch extends… But it’s no mock figure at the end of the rope; it’s the body of a man, an American tourist. Brenna Taylor, Derbyshire C.I.D., is assigned to the case on a team of detectives under Detective-Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham. It is the chance Brenna has been waiting for, and she is anxious to impress him.
Most villagers suspect an outsider as the killer. But when the frost-covered body of a resident is discovered, apprehension shifts and suspects multiply. Among them are the American's brother-in-law, still angry over his sister's death; the husband, who fears his wife will desert him for the American; the inebriated, penniless uncle, who clings to his nephew's fortune tighter than a cork in a wine bottle. Then Brenna becomes the target of a series of frightening pranks--the work of a harassing male colleague, or a deadly warning to leave the case? Her hunt is personal now.
Evan Greene, publican of The Broken Loaf, threw a damp towel onto a convenient table and joined us. The sweat on Evan’s dark hair and beard told of his help in converting the room from bar to temporary police workspace. He pushed up the sleeves of his black pullover and stood, hands on his hips, surveying the room.
The bar smelled of fried food and coal fires. In not too many more hours, it would also stink of smoked cigarettes and perspiration—an unfortunate occupational hazard, for it was a nice room. A painting executed in somber oils by a heavy-handed artist consumed the wall above the fire’s hearth, while at its feet an accent of yellow and gold mums complimented a brass cauldron. A telly, its screen nearly the size of a car, sat diagonally in a far corner, the room’s one concession to Progress, while the traditional dart board hung below a large photo of a current political leader. I was sure I could ascertain small holes in the picture, editorial comments on the state of the world. Even in the current clamor of carting in equipment, I could imagine the ‘thwack’ of the dart as its metal tip bit into the corkboard. The corner opposite the television sported a large sign proclaiming the meeting time of a local folksinging group. They would have to meet elsewhere tomorrow night. Not a bad room, but I felt like a fox
in a hole. The dark curtains that smothered the pub’s windows would have to be opened, for I already yearned for sunlight in this somber environment.
“Hard workers, your lads are.” Evan watched a constable place a paper shredder on the settle near the fireplace. I wondered how much more weight it could hold, for it seemed already to be groaning under the accumulating equipment. “Never seen a group work so quick in all my life. Or so much equipment, for that fact. Guess I’m still back in Sherlock Holmes days. A person tends to think of detective work as looking about on the ground with a magnifying lens, doesn’t he? Must be a hard go keeping up with all this computer technology.”
“It’s not all that hard,” Graham said, catching my eye. “We’re given a choice each year of enrolling in Open University classes for three months or sitting alongside some five-year-old for a week.”
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 the Peak District mystery series.
Jo’s insistence for accuracy--from police methods and location layout to the general “feel” of the area--has driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire for research. These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the detail filling the books.
In 1999 she returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.
Jo founded the Greater St. Louis Chapter of Sisters in Crime, serving as its first president. Besides her love of mysteries and early music, she also enjoys photography, reading, creating recipes, and her backyard wildlife. Her cat, Tennyson, shares her St. Louis home.
BOOK WILL BE $0.99 DURING THE TOUR
Jo will be awarding a handmade lapis lazuli necklace on a bamboo cord to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour - International giveaway. The cord is adjustable and the necklace is comprised of three stones ranging in length from 1 5/8" to 2 1/8". (It's like the one Brenna Taylor in the book wears)
a Rafflecopter giveaway