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5 stars for Shadow in the Smoke by @JoHiestand #audiobook #audiobookreview #mystery #bookreview



Title: Shadow in the Smoke

Author: Jo A. Hiestand

Narrator: Steve Hart

Genre: British Mystery, Mystery


Book Blurb:


Janet Ennis tragically died five years ago in what the police labeled an accidental fire. But Janet’s mother, Nora, believes it to be murder and arson. And she’s hoping ex-cop Michael McLaren can prove it quickly, for she’s losing her memory to dementia.


As McLaren pokes through the case details, he becomes emotionally involved with the dead woman. Yet, Janet isn’t the only person who threatens his mental well-being. A series of arsons on his own property hint that he’s upset someone connected with this case.


Motives for Janet’s murder rise like the smoky tendrils of a fire. And motive aside, the murder scene seems a bit too pat: a drought-stricken landscape eager to lap up flames and a conveniently locked door barring Janet’s escape.


Will McLaren solve the case while Nora can still comprehend the resolution, or will Harvester’s plans see McLaren’s career go up in smoke?


My Review:


Summary –

Can McLaren capture a killer and arsonist, or will his life go up in smoke? Nora is convinced her daughter, Janet, was murdered before her home burned in a fire years ago. She pleads with retired police detective Michael McLaren to reopen the case. He agrees to check into things, not realizing what he’s gotten himself into. The more he finds out about the victim Janet, the more attached he becomes. His heart goes out to Nora as well because she’s fighting dementia. What he uncovers makes some people jittery, including an unseen murderer/arsonist. Putting his own safety aside, McLaren vows to extinguish the plans of the killer and arrest the perpetrator for murder. Who is the shadow in the smoke?


Narrator’s overall voice –

This is my first listening of Steve Hart’s narration and I have to admit I enjoyed it immensely. The British accents are spot on and enjoyable to the ear.


Does the narrator fit the characters?

Yes, Steve Hart fits the characters through careful inflection and understated elegance. He conveys Nora’s emotions with ease. I thought his interpretation of McLaren to be well done.


Narrator’s reading style –

The cadence of Steve Hart as he narrates is pleasing to the ear and allows the listener to dive into the mystery.


Narrator’s impact on reading experience –

I found him to have a lasting effect on my reading experience. While he is unpretentious and not flashy, it works for this mystery.


Narrator’s pacing –

Steve Hart’s pacing is even keeled with just the right amount of excitement in the right places. He takes this British mystery and gives it an almost cozy feel.


Audiobook flow –

The flow of this audiobook is what you would find in a classic mystery but with a modern twist.


What makes this audiobook unique –

I think Steve Hart’s narration blending with an exceptional mystery by Jo A. Hiestand makes this a unique listen. Not everyone in Britain speaks the same and this is made apparent in this audiobook.


Would I recommend this audiobook –

Yes, I would recommend this audiobook to all mystery readers.


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 a British mystery series (the McLaren Mysteries)—of which three books have garnered the prestigious N.N. Light’s Book Heaven ‘Best Mystery Novel’ three years straight. She also writes a Missouri-based cozy mystery series (The Cookies & Kilts Mysteries, of which "A Trifling Murder" is the second book) that is 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 and sings loudly. She 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.


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Reviewed by: Nancy

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