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5++ stars for The Cottage (audiobook) by Jo A. Hiestand #audiobookreview #britishmystery #mystery #mustlisten #bookreview

Title: The Cottage

Author: Jo A. Hiestand

Voice Actors: Callum Hale

Genre: British Mystery, Mystery


Book Blurb:


Former police detective Michael McLaren is at the home of his lady friend, Melanie. The house is sold, the removal van is booked. All that is left is to help her pack her belongings for her move to his village. But the laborious task is interrupted when one of Melanie’s neighbors asks McLaren to investigate the circumstances of her parents’ murders.


McLaren’s reluctance to take it on and abandon Melanie appears to be solved when his best mate, Jamie, steps in to help with the packing. It’s not the easy investigation McLaren was hoping for, however. Sightings of Mordred and a ghost, and a burglary at the local Tudor Hall complicate the murder inquiries.


What had seemed to McLaren a perfect remedy with Jamie close at hand now disintegrates into a horrendous mistake. And McLaren questions if the investigation is really worth it, especially when he puts the people he cares about most in danger.


My Review:


Story Impressions –


McLaren is asked to investigate a pair of murders while helping his beloved Melanie pack up and move to his village. What starts as a favor soon becomes a nightmare as he thrusts Jamie and Melanie into grave danger. With every McLaren audiobook, Callum Hale gets better and better. Callum become McLaren and others while bringing the well-crafted mystery to life. Forget streaming, this is the only way to immerse yourself in a British mystery.


Narrator’s overall voice –

Callum Hale is a magnificent narrator, one of the best I’ve heard. His voice creates the imagery needed to follow the story. His soothing British accent works flawlessly for this story.

Does the narrator fit the characters?

Callum uses different dialects for each character which is beneficial while listening. There were many times I would close my eyes and could imagine what was going on. Callum also invokes emotion while hearing the mystery. I found myself getting carried away into the story.

Narrator’s reading style –

Callum’s reading style is the perfect rhythm, allowing the listener to be fully invested in the story.

Narrator’s impact on reading experience –

Callum makes this one of the best books I’ve listened to. Everything from his pacing to the inflection in his voice to the recreation of the characters to the emotional impact on the listener all combine to make this an outstanding performance.

Narrator’s pacing –

Callum’s pacing is lingering in parts, fast in others, on pace with the natural ebbs and flows of the story. It’s a delightful performance.

Audiobook flow –

The flow of the audiobook is right in line with the pace of the story. I submerged myself in the mystery and thoroughly adored it.

What makes this audiobook unique –

What a brilliant performance by Callum. He becomes McLaren, at least for my imagination.

Would I recommend this audiobook –

YES! It’s such an engrossing listen, especially for fans of British mysteries and mysteries.


My Rating: 5++ stars


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Author Biography:


Jo A. Hiestand is the author of two British mystery series. While this may not seem so unusual, Jo was born in -- and still lives in -- St. Louis, Missouri, USA. To get around the technical difficulties dictated by living in one country and writing about another -- especially about police procedures and crime detection, of which she has no personal experience -- she travels to Britain every few years for research. It was on one such trip that she met English police Inspector Tony Eyre (now retired) who supplied police information for her first novel, "Death of an Ordinary Guy." Since then, two other English police officers have become close friends of hers and help with police procedure, catching American words that creep into her writing, and reading the novel manuscripts to eliminate police inaccuracies. This is all well and good, but nothing beats hands-on experience for writing. Since one of her series features a team of police detectives from the Derbyshire CID and her other highlights an ex-cop who investigates cold cases on his own, Jo knew she'd either have to commit a crime to get first-hand police knowledge or enroll in a citizen's police academy course. The latter seemed safer, so she signed up through a St. Louis county's PD. It was there that she met future co-author police officer Paul Hornung. As Paul remembers their first ride-along, they talked more about writing than about police work. During several ride-alongs they established a bond through these two mutual interests; eventually they agreed to collaborate on books. They've done this with Paul supplying information, writing the fights scenes, and finally writing some of the chapters as one of the series characters. Writing together is definitely fun but sometimes a challenge. Neither knows specifically what the other person's chapter will be, as the storyline is never fully detailed to the other. This is so each can read the other's work with a fresh eye, untainted by "what I meant to say." It must work, for best-selling British mystery writer Peter Lovesey says, "Immaculate research, attention to detail and an elegant style are the hallmarks of Jo Hiestand’s writing. An atmospheric novel (Horns of a Dilemma)." Jo took a short respite from novel writing to try her hand with a play. Her contest-winning play "Teething Pains" was produced on stage in 2010. She flatly denies that her fear of dentistry was instrumental in selecting the subject. Her love of writing, board games and music combines in "P.I.R.A.T.E.S.", the mystery-solving game that uses maps, graphics, song lyrics, and other clues to lead the players to the lost treasure. She also enjoys walking through the woods, playing guitar and harpsichord, her animals (pets as well as backyard wildlife), and reading. Jo realizes she's living many authors' dreams. Who else has three police officers helping her commit murder?


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Reviewed by: Nancy


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