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5+ stars for The Cottage by Jo A. Hiestand #bookreview #britishmystery #mystery #detectivemystery

Title: The Cottage

Author: Jo A. Hiestand

Genre: British 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.

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My Review:

A superbly written, high quality mystery that brings the must read back to a long enjoyed series. The Cottage is simply outstanding. The premise is very well crafted and knits together the storyline that has been slowly building through the last few books.

Here, McLaren must investigate the cold case of the murders of a woman's parents. The story is much more complex than the standard cold case mystery. The creative nature of the mystery is jaw droppingly impressive.

As one who has personally read more than 100 mysteries in my life, this is one of the best mysteries I have ever seen. I test the writing by my ability to figure out who did it as early as possible. This book had me guessing right until the suspects were finally named. That is the sign of an extremely well written mystery.

The characters are tried and true. If you are a fan of the McLaren series, then there is nothing better than Mike, Jamie, Melanie and good ol Barry. The other characters are very well created. Each character, no matter how small, adds a richness to the story.

The settings are vividly described. The level of suspense will put the reader on the edge of their seat. Another selling point is I was not more than 35% through and I had real trouble stopping reading. I simply had to know what was going to happen next.

The in-depth emotions of the characters also shine through and will appeal greatly to a large audience. If you are a fan of this author, you will want to read this book. If you are a fan of this series, then this is a must read. This is one of the best mysteries of the year!

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: Mr. N

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