Title: Empty Handed
Author: Jo. A. Hiestand
Genre: British Mystery, Mystery
One dark night artist Craig Saxton went missing from his village. His body was found thirty-two hours later in the river, floating like a bobber on a fishing line.
Rumors swell like tidal waves: did his ex-wife or his fiancée’s father kill this likeable young man? Or was it simply a case of jealousy by the village’s other artist? Now, two years later, Craig’s fiancée hopes ex-police detective Michael McLaren can find out.
From speaking to villagers, McLaren quickly realizes that what appears to be a straightforward investigation is fast becoming as tangled as fishing lines. Are the fish poaching incidents, the reappearance of the local ghost, and assaults on him merely to muddy the investigative waters, or are they connected to Craig’s death?
McLaren has his hands full. They become even fuller when a nemesis from his past appears one night, bent on revenge. And the inevitable struggle opens a new future for one man…and leaves the other empty handed.
Another of the McLaren series, this book probably works better as a follow up read to the last book rather than as a standalone. The author has created a very heavy plotline that keeps the main character (and the reader) trying to catch up to all that is going on. The cold case murder was very well crafted and in hindsight, had more than enough angles to fill a book by itself. The co-plot of revenge seemed to almost be a book on its own.
The main character of McLaren is very readable and one a reader quickly grows fond of. He is the kind of leading man quasi-private detective that would be great on a BBC series.
The detail provided of the small-town setting was again impressive and shows a great amount of research on the part of the author.
The one issue I had with the book was the rushed nature of the ending. The book had so many aspects going on it seemed to need another 30 or 40 pages to properly show what happened rather than a quick explanation.
A fine mystery book with appeal to those who enjoy British mysteries.
My Rating: 4.25 stars
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Jo A. Hiestand is the founding president of the Greater St Louis chapter of Sisters in Crime. She graduated with a BA degree in English and departmental honors from Webster University.
She writes three mystery series -- two British and one local. She’s been a secretary and a graphic designer.
Her hobbies include photography, music and researching the Scottish branch of her family.
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Reviewed by: Mr. N