Book Series Recommendation | The McLaren Mysteries by Jo A. Hiestand and @WildRosePress #mystery #bookish #FridayReads

May 31, 2019

 

1. Title COLD REVENGE

Author  Jo A. Hiestand

Genre British Mystery

Publisher The Wild Rose Press

 

Book Blurb

One year ago, Marta Hughes won a purse-choking sum of money at a local casino. She never returned home. Her body was discovered in a ditch twelve miles from her home; her car was back in her driveway. Linnet Isherwood cannot let her friend's unsolved murder rest. She convinces ex-cop Michael McLaren to return to the work he loves. He sifts through a confusing web of lies, misconceptions and veiled motives. Are anonymous late-night phone calls, a vanished hitchhiker, and a stalker wielding empty beer bottles somehow related to the case? Or maybe the woman he broke off with is seeking revenge.

 

Book Trailer 

 

 

Excerpt

“What’s the matter with you, McLaren? I said, it’s not your case. Mr. Forester attacked Mr. Antony so severely that the wrought iron poker bent over his head, for God’s sake! That’s proof of an assault. That and Mr. Antony’s blood on it. It’s a clear case of Section 18, causing grievous bodily harm. And, if Mr. Antony dies, it’ll become a case of murder.”

 

The years of antagonism seemed to solidify into this exact moment. And now, in his friend’s pub, McLaren felt the determination to help others, the need that had sent him into the Force in the first place, growing within him. The anger and frustration at seeing Nigel Forester so wrongly arrested spilled out. He strode to the CSI officer, grabbed the poker, and marched into the men’s loo. Turning on the cold-water tap, he thrust the poker under the running water. As he moved the poker back and forth, he wiped the blood and hair from the tool. When he had removed all the physical traces, he straightened the poker over his knee. Satisfied, he strode back into the main room and threw the poker onto a table. The poker bounced once as it thudded against the table’s wooden surface.

 

“Now where’s your evidence?” McLaren barked, hatred in his eyes as he glared at Harvester.

 

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Ebook: Amazon: http://goo.gl/LxCuIS

 

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Kobo: https://goo.gl/wpyt8d

 

iBooks: https://goo.gl/hPBA0I

 

 

Author Biography

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 two British mystery series that are based in Derbyshire. She’s been a secretary and a graphic designer.

 

Her hobbies include photography, music and researching the Scottish branch of her family.

 

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.johiestand.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jo-a-hiestand

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jo.hiestand.3

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/joahiestand

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/JoHiestand

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/MysteryAuthorinSTL

 

 

2. Title LAST SEEN

Author  Jo A. Hiestand

Genre British Mystery

Publisher The Wild Rose Press

 

Book Blurb

One dark night, popular singer Kent Harrison goes missing after his performance at Staffordshire, England’s Tutbury Castle.  When his body's found in a forest, the police investigation focuses on Kent's ex-wife, a local herbalist, a covetous colleague, and even the curator of another castle who tried to lure Kent into performing there.  But his occasional singing partner, Dave Morley, seems to have the biggest motive.  He's dying to make his name, money, and the big time, especially at the medieval Minstrels Court reenactment, where Kent's appearance guarantees SRO.  Did Dave murder Kent to eliminate the competition...or had their partnership struck a wrong chord?  To entice him into investigating, ex-cop Michael McLaren's girlfriend plays detective.  But Dena ends up in great danger.  Now McLaren must not only solve Kent's murder but also rescue her, a hard task when a blast of jealousy, anger, and lies mutes the truth.

 

Book Trailer

 

 

 

Excerpt

“I want a bit of information about the scene. As long as I’m here, I may as well go over it properly. It’ll save time. What do you remember about it?” He stood a moment, imagining the scene as it was one year ago. Snippets of television news items flashed in his mind’s eye, crowding into Jamie’s narrative. “White male, forty-five years old, local music teacher.”

 

“Last seen wearing jeans and a short-sleeved shirt.”

 

“At the Minstrels Court, right?”

 

“Yeah. He was last seen carrying a guitar case—”

 

“I’d heard it was a cello case.”

 

Jamie sighed and went on without comment. “A few witnesses said he was carrying a dark rucksack.”

 

“Must’ve been mistaken. That wasn’t at the crime scene.”

 

“Unless the murderer pinched it. Witnesses saw him drive off in a late model Land Rover.”

 

“Not a new Range Rover? Are you sure?”

 

“He was last seen talking to the castle’s curator,” Jamie said more loudly, as if volume alone would correct his friend’s misinformation.

 

McLaren refrained from saying the newscast had ID’d the person as a young female fan.

 

“But that was never verified about the curator. It could’ve possibly been his fiancée.”

 

The possibilities echoed in his head. Last seen…last seen…last seen in the forest near Kirkfield. Dead.

 

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3. Title SHADOW IN THE SMOKE

Author  Jo A. Hiestand

Genre British Mystery

Publisher The Wild Rose Press

 

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 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?

 

Book Trailer

 

 

Excerpt

 “I’m sorry, Mrs. Ennis, but even if I did take on your case, I don’t think you could afford my fee.”

 

“You haven’t told me what it is.”

 

He named his price, watching her intently.  She didn’t flinch at the amount but said, “I’d double that if you could find Janet’s killer.”

 

His right eyebrow rose in skepticism and as he opened his mouth to reply, she added, “I’m serious.  I’ve got the money.”

 

“It means that much to you, then.”

 

“Yes.  And it will to you, too.”

 

“The money’s nice, I admit, but¾”

 

“Oh, I’m not referring to the money, Mr. McLaren, though I suppose that will be welcome.”

 

“Then, what?”

 

“I meant coming up against your nemesis again and proving him wrong after all these years.”

 

“My nemesis…”

 

“Yes. The man you tangled with, the man who’s responsible for you leaving your police job last year. Charlie Harvester. ”  

 

Buy Links

TRADE PAPER EDITIONS -

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4. Title BRUSH WITH INJUSTICE

Author  Jo A. Hiestand

Genre British Mystery

Publisher Cousins House

 

Book Blurb

When a young art student is murdered, the sister of the accused simply cannot believe her brother is responsible. Worse than that, he dies of a heart attack, provoked--she claims--by a vigilante group and the local shock jock. Ex-police detective Michael McLaren investigates the year-old cold case and soon becomes the victim of a series of driving assaults. Perhaps just as bad, he encounters Charlie Harvester, his nemesis from his days in the Force. A coincidence, or is Harvester somehow wrapped up in the murder? As McLaren discovers the meaning of the brooch, he slowly untangles the web surrounding Amy's death, and barely escapes his own planned murder.

 

Book Trailer 

 

 

Excerpt

“It was dark.  I do know that much.  I’d just driven through the village and made the turn by the rock cliff face.  The wood was dark, of course, but when I rounded the bend and emerged onto the straight section of road, the western sky was just fading to dark.  There was a slit of red between the horizon and the bank of black clouds.  I thought it looked like a knife wound.  I know no one was behind me in the wood.  I’d swear it.  But as I got to the straightaway, where the spur lane joins the road, headlights glared in my rearview mirror.”  He propped himself up on one elbow and looked at Jamie.  “He had to have come out of that lane, or been waiting there for me.  That’s the only answer.”

 

“Waiting for you!  Why on earth do you say that?”

 

“Had to have done.  If he came from one of the farms down that lane, I’d have seen his headlights for some distance, as he approached the main road.  He wasn’t traveling up that lane.  His headlights just snapped on, instantly.  Like a rabbit pulled out of a magician’s hat.”

 

Jamie nodded, the implication too awful for words.

 

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5. Title AN UNFOLDING TRAP

Author  Jo A. Hiestand

Genre British Mystery

Publisher The Wild Rose Press

 

Book Blurb

Since his infancy, Michael McLaren has been the target of his paternal grandfather’s anger. So when the patriarch sends an invitation to heal the rift, McLaren travels to Scotland, eager to meet and finally end the feud. But the welcome never happens. If Grandfather hadn’t invited him, who had?  And why?

 

In Edinburgh, a man standing beside McLaren in a bus queue is killed in a hit-and-run accident. After an attack leaves McLaren for dead on a wintry moor, he’s convinced someone from his past is trying to murder him.

 

As McLaren trails the hit-and-run driver from the medieval ‘underground city’ of Edinburgh to the Boar’s Rock the MacLaren Clan’s ancestral meeting place the assaults intensify, and he’s plunged into a very personal hunt for a World War II treasure. The puzzle is fascinating; he just has to stay alive to solve it.

 

Book Trailer

 

 

Excerpt

Ross leaned forward, closing the distance between them. “You’re sure you didn’t get angry when you found him this afternoon?”

 

“Of course I got angry!  Who the hell wouldn’t? The bloody git killed a man, frightened a dozen others who were there, kidnapped Miss Skene, held her hostage¾”  McLaren stopped before saying Lanny had knocked him on the head and left him for dead in the marshland along the loch, or that he was a threat to Neill McLaren. He took a deep breath. “But I didn’t kill him. I tied him up so he wouldn’t escape, then phoned you when I could.”

 

“An hour later.” The voice was flat, unimpressed.

 

“Yes. An hour later. Maybe ninety minutes. I didn’t write down the time, but I phoned here, in the village.”

 

“Why wait so long to ring us?”

 

“Pardon?” The suspicion that things were turning horribly wrong whispered to McLaren.

 

“Why didn’t you phone right then? Did you want to put some space between you and the killing so you could establish an alibi?”

 

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6. Title NO KNOWN ADDRESS

Author  Jo A. Hiestand

Genre British Mystery

Publisher The Wild Rose Press

 

Book Blurb

Luke Barber went missing from his village, leaving no clue to his whereabouts or why he left. Now, three years later, Luke’s father hopes ex-cop Michael McLaren can find a trace of Luke, alive or dead. 

 

As McLaren pokes through the case details, he wonders if the pressure of succeeding in tennis or music, or his upcoming marriage, was too much for the lad and he simply ran away. And McLaren’s suspicion may be correct, for he soon is assaulted and left for dead—a hint that he’s upset someone connected with this case.

 

McLaren eventually unearths the lies and false identity shoved at him, and uncovers what became of Luke, a discovery aided by idolatrous love and an ancient stone man. 

 

Book Trailer

 

 

Excerpt

The man seemed not to hear the continuous whine of the phone receiver lying on his lap. He sat upright, stiff-backed, in a wooden kitchen chair that, like the house, had seen better days. As he had also seen better days, he reminded himself, glancing at the calendar on the wall. A date circled in black ink smirked at him, the remaining days of the month X-ed out. As though he was counting down to something. But the dates were three years old.

 

The discrepancy didn’t bother him. He had never flipped over the rest of the months. They didn’t intrigue him; it didn’t upset him that he had stared at January for more than a thousand days. If he flipped over the page it would signal that the search needed to continue into another month. And possibly another. And another. The consequence was too terrible to comprehend.

 

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Trade paper –

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7. Title AN UNWILLING SUSPECT

Author  Jo A. Hiestand

Genre British Mystery

Publisher Cousins House

 

Book Blurb

McLaren’s fiancée tragically died one month ago. Trying to heal emotionally from her death, McLaren settles into a rented farmhouse in the woods near picturesque Lake Windermere, in Cumbria. But he’s barely had a chance to rest when Helen, the woman in the neighboring cottage, is killed…and is discovered near his front door. 

 

Because McLaren had spent much of the previous day with her, and his snowy footprints lead to and from her house, he becomes the prime murder suspect in what the police label a frustrated romantic advance.

 

Motives for Helen’s murder are as chilling as the outdoor temperature. There’s the hands-on garage mechanic who’d like to put his hands all over her, the affluent fishing guide, and Helen’s former boyfriend who wanted to renew the relationship.

 

Can McLaren find the killer before the police jail him for murder?

 

Book Trailer 

 

 

Excerpt

Holland took a deep breath and glanced around the interview room. “Are you alone here, sir?”

 

“Am I alone…”

 

“Your wife or a friend, perhaps, staying with you?”

 

McLaren followed the sergeant’s gaze, as though expecting to see his sister or Dena or Jamie sitting on the sofa. The shadow of a pine bough swaying in the breeze pulled his attention from the fireplace to the window. He swallowed, perturbed with the images he had so easily imagined. “No. No one else. I’m here alone. Is something wrong with that?”

 

“Just asking, sir.”

 

McLaren noticed the slight tonal shift of the man’s voice. It conveyed Procedure and Distrust. “So, no one either here or in town nor elsewhere can account for your whereabouts last night, is that correct?”

 

“Yes. You’re making this sound like you suspect me of something.”

 

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8. Title ARRESTED FLIGHT

Author  Jo A. Hiestand

Genre British Mystery

Publisher Cousins House

 

Book Blurb

Ex-police detective Michael McLaren is determined to have a peaceful holiday after the fiasco of his first attempt at Windermere, so he stops at a bed-and-breakfast in Moorton, a village in Cumbria.  But mystery and murder seek him out, and he soon succumbs to the B&B owner’s plea to investigate the year-old death of her daughter’s fiancé, a young musician.

 

The Lake District parish seems peaceful, but a rival  musician’s jealousy and a business partner’s anger boil beneath the façade.  Mix that with ‘Barmy Barry’s’ sightings of fairy lights  at the castle, references to Uther Pendragon's return and the secrets in the woods, and McLaren finds his sanity shaky.

 

When the vicar is attacked and Barry disappears, McLaren sets a trap for the killer.  But as it plays out, his concern shifts from the potential capture to praying he and his friend can escape with their lives.

 

Book Trailer 

 

 

Excerpt

Barry looked up, apparently aware of McLaren for the first time, and called, “If Vicar takes you into the church, stay away from the soul in the coffin.”

 

McLaren turned around, clearly surprised. “Pardon?”

 

“The soul,” Barry reiterated while chewing, “It lives by the coffin near the north aisle. It’s a big coffin.” He turned to face Church Lane, holding out his arms and gazing at the sky. Wriggling his left arm, he said, “It’s on the north aisle.”

 

“Have you seen the soul, Barry?”

 

“Lots of times. Morning, noon and night. He comes out more at night. He doesn’t like to be seen. He told me.”

 

“He must get cramped, lying in that tomb.”

 

“He comes out when the fairies fly around with their lights, so he can see. Church is awful dark at night. He don’t frighten me, but there’s others do.”

 

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9. Title PHOTO SHOOT

Author  Jo A. Hiestand

Genre British Mystery

Publisher Cousins House

 

Book Blurb

Michael McLaren returns home from working a cold case in Cumbria to learn that he’s missed his uncle’s wedding in Scotland.  Angry and fearful that his absence has re-opened the family rift just as it’s healed, he drives to the ancestral home, hoping his appearance and explanation will be accepted. He’s more than welcomed. His uncle asks him to investigate the murder of his first fiancée.

 

Fiona Lennox was found in a rowboat on a Scottish loch, shot to death during a late night photo shoot. Why would she rent a boat after dark? Did she take it out to photograph the moonlight on the water? She could’ve done, being a professional photographer, but she was also a proponent of civic and environmental causes, which she documented with her camera. Did someone linked to one of her crusades kill her, or was the motive personal?

 

As McLaren uncovers layers of Fiona’s life and the reason for her nocturnal outing, he and his family are targets of intensifying attacks. But it’s not until he races against a kidnapper’s deadline and the threat of a loved one’s death that he realizes who killed Fiona implications that are as deep and dark as the Scottish loch.

 

Book Trailer 

 

 

Excerpt

McLaren rolled onto his side and hugged the duvet to his chest. Was it too late to think about courting Melanie, the owner of the bed-and-breakfast where he stayed a few days ago? He was thirty-eight. Most men were married by his age if they wanted to marry.  Did he? He’d come close to it, engaged to Dena. But he hadn’t acted fast enough, and she had been taken away, murdered, before they could build a life together.

 

The light shifted east along the wall, leaving his grandparents’ photo in darkness.

 

Was it an omen? That’s how he felt without Dena, lost in darkness, no one to love and no one to guide him. But Melanie said she’d wait for him to decide about his mind and heart. If he delayed too long, would she go to someone else? Or be taken from him as Dena had?

 

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10. Title EMPTY HANDED

Author  Jo A. Hiestand

Genre British Mystery

Publisher Cousins House

 

Book Blurb

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.

 

Book Trailer

 

 

Excerpt

He was a dozen yards or so from the fishing cottage when a branch snapped. McLaren halted, shining his light in the direction of the sound. He hesitated, wondering if an animal had stepped on the dry wood, but some sense told him an animal would have to be very large to accomplish that. He shielded the light from his eyes. “Anyone there? Do you need help?”

 

Silence greeted him.

 

He waited another few seconds, then continued on.

 

A loud thud froze him mid-stride and he turned toward the river. “Hello? Are you injured?”

 

This time a voice answered. It was downstream, nearer to the bridge. “Not I, Mate, but you will be.”

 

McLaren held his torch out, moving the light over the area. “Sorry?”

 

“What are you, hard of hearing, McLaren?”

 

The voice was low, barely audible above the splashing river, yet McLaren had no trouble hearing it. Neither did he mistake the edge to the words. Or the speaker. McLaren’s heart beat pounded in his throat. The man was standing in the dark wood, no torchlight illuminating his path. The conclusion was obvious.

 

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