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5++ stars for Black Moon: The McLaren Mysteries by @JoHiestand #mystery #audiobookreview #audible



Title: Black Moon: The McLaren Mysteries, Book 11

Author: Jo A. Hiestand

Narrator: Callum Hale

Genre: British Mystery, Mystery


Book Blurb:


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 best seller.


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.


My Review:


Summary –

A writer’s group retreat turns deadly when their leader is brutally killed, and the suspects all have motive. A group of mystery writers meets every year for a retreat. No one appears to like the leader so when she winds up dead, everyone scurries like rats on a drowning ship. A year later, McLaren investigates what happened. As he digs deeper, he discovers plenty of motives including jealousy, blackmail, infidelity, and more. He needs to narrow the list of suspects and fast or else the killer will slip through his grasp. When a female friend shows up unexpectedly, it throws McLaren off, and he’s distracted. She walks into the killer’s trap and McLaren must rescue her and capture the killer before it’s too late.


Narrator’s overall voice –

Callum Hale is one of the best narrators I’ve heard. His voice creates the descriptions needed to follow the story. His soothing British accent works impeccably for this story.


Does the narrator fit the characters?

Callum uses different dialects for each character which is beneficial while listening. There were numerous times I closed my eyes and imagined what was going on. Callum also invokes emotion while reading. I found myself getting transported into the story.


Narrator’s reading style –

Callum’s reading style is the perfect tempo, allowing the listener to be fully immersed in the mystery.


Narrator’s impact on reading experience –

Callum makes this one of the best books I’ve listened to. Everything from his pacing to the intonation in his voice to the recreation of the characters to the emotive effect on the listener all combine to make this a remarkable performance.


Narrator’s pacing –

Callum’s pacing is lingering in parts, quick in others, on pace with the natural ebbs and flows of the story. It’s an immersive performance.


Audiobook flow –

The flow of the audiobook is right in line with the pace of the story. I plunged myself in the mystery and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.


What makes this audiobook unique –

What a dazzling performance by Callum. He becomes McLaren and Jamie plus all the other characters, at least from my viewpoint.


Would I recommend this audiobook –

YES! It’s such a brilliant, award-winning listen, especially for fans of British mysteries and mysteries.


My Rating: 5++ stars


Buy it Now:







Author Biography:


Jo A. Hiestand grew up on regular doses of music, books, and Girl Scout camping. She gravitated toward writing in her post-high school years and finally did something sensible about it, graduating from Webster University with a BA degree in English and departmental honors. She writes two British mystery series—of which two books have garnered the prestigious N.N. Light’s Book Heaven ‘Best Mystery Novel’ two years straight. She also writes two Missouri-based mystery series that are grounded in places associated with her camping haunts. The camping is a thing of the past, for the most part, but the music stayed with her in the form of playing guitar and harpsichord, and singing in a folk group. Jo carves jack o’ lanterns badly; sings loudly; and loves barbecue sauce and ice cream (separately, not together), kilts (especially if men wear them), clouds and stormy skies, and the music of G.F. Handel. You can usually find her pulling mystery plots out of scenery—whether from photographs or the real thing.


Social Media Links:



Reviewed by: Mrs. N

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