Title: Black Moon
Author: Jo A. Hiestand
Genre: British Mystery
Each April the members of a mystery writing group gather on Stanton Moon for camaraderie and to fuel their plots. The moody area seems the perfect setting for hatching a whodunit. Unfortunately, an unscripted mystery materializes like an unsolicited manuscript on a publisher’s slush pile—the leader of their group is found on the moor, her head bashed in and very dead.
Lesley Keeton’s murder takes on the aspects of a novel’s first draft: the suspects shadowy and the killer unnamed. Now, a year later, ex-police detective Michael McLaren is asked to tidy up the plot and expose the killer.
McLaren investigates and discovers anger and jealousy cropping up as often as editor’s red marks on a manuscript page. The group members crafted more than stories—they planned a mass exodus, fleeing Lesley’s tutelage, dictatorship and tongue lashings. Add a tinge of blackmail, an illegal business and an affair to this framework, and the deadly combination has the earmarks of a bestseller.
In the midst of this, McLaren’s lady friend arrives unannounced and disrupts the case…and unbalances his emotions. Both are tested one dark night in a churchyard when she stumbles into the arms of the killer…and McLaren must rescue her without letting evil go free.
I’ve never read a book in this series and now that I have completed Black Moon, I can't wait to read another from it. As has been stated before with other reviews of other books by this author - this is a classic British mystery.
What is unique is how seamlessly a new reader can get a feel for the characters and the past stories from other books without any awkward info-dumping. I never felt lost while reading Black Moon. Ret. Det. McLaren is very engaging and someone the reader can get an affinity for quickly.
Reading this book reminded me of two of my fave British shows from the more recent past: Pie in the Sky and Rosemary & Thyme. There is the feel of that kind of fun and serious mystery approach. The mystery kept me guessing throughout and the clearing up of the mystery was done in a way that didn't feel forced or fake.
A spot-on brilliant book I would recommend to any reader who enjoys British mysteries of any kind. Simply a great read and I enjoyed the work immensely. I would enjoy reading another book from this series.
My Rating: 5 stars
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I grew up reading Dumas, Twain, duMaurier, Dickens and the Brontes. I loved the atmosphere of those books. Add the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce movies and the moods of 1940s/50s movies like Brief Encounter, Night Must Fall, and The Thirty-Nine Steps, and I knew I wanted to write mysteries, and the books had to be set in Britain. That was a must even though I knew only what I’d seen in the movies and read in the novels. But the British pull was tenacious. Three years ago I discovered that I have literally centuries and centuries of English, Scottish and Welsh ancestry. Do genes mean anything?
My first visit to England was during my college years and that cemented my joy of Things British. Since then, I’ve been lured back nearly a dozen times, and lived there for a year during my professional folksinging stint.
I combined my love of writing, mysteries, music, and board games by co-inventing a mystery-solving treasure-hunting game, P.I.R.A.T.E.S.
I founded the Greater St. Louis Chapter of the international mystery writers/readers organization Sisters in Crime, serving as its first president.
In 2001, I graduated from Webster University with a BA degree in English and departmental honors. I live in the St. Louis, MO area with my cat, Tennyson, and way too many kilts.
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Reviewed by: Mr. N