by Jo A. Hiestand
GENRE: British mystery
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.
McLaren’s fingers wrapped around the torch. It would do for a weapon if he needed it. He remained there for several minutes, hardly daring to breathe. When the tower fell into darkness, he crept toward it.
He made for the nearest corner, groping for it in the confusion of darkness. It gradually defined itself, separating from the night as his sight adjusted to the new blackness. He reached, stiff-armed, for the wall and nearly yelped. Ivy, brittle with cold and age, wrapped around his fingertips and grabbed at his ring. He jerked away, momentarily alarmed. The wind sighed through the leaves, rustling gently, and he cursed his stupidity. He laid his hand back on the wall and moved toward the main archway.
The moon had inched above the treetops by the time he came to the end of the wall. He glanced up, hoping for cloud cover. The sky was clear. He cursed his choice of the hour and prayed for rain, but he knew it to be a hollow hope. He kept his hand on the stone wall as he left the moonlit courtyard. Drifts of snow sagged against the base of the tower, chilling the air with a hint of frost and emphasizing the position of the foundation. He crouched near the entry, ignoring the arch, and pressed the torch against his chest. And waited in the darkness.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
A month-long trip to England during her college years introduced Jo to the joys of Things British. Since then, she has been lured back nearly a dozen times, and lived there during her professional folksinging stint. This intimate knowledge of Britain forms the backbone of both the Taylor & Graham mysteries and the McLaren mystery series.
Jo’s insistence for accuracyfrom police methods and location layout to the general “feel” of the areahas driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire for research. These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the detail filling the books.
In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.
Her cat, Tennyson, shares her St. Louis home.
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4 out of 5 stars
Arrested Flight by Jo A. Hiestand is a contemporary mystery set in England featuring former police detective Michael McLaren as he stumbles into another mystery while he is searching for a place to vacation. Not only is there a cold case to be solved, but the folks he meets definitely seem to have their share of secrets. Despite his wariness due to events in his recent past, McLaren feels compelled to use his skills to investigate, but the danger increases until a single cold case will explode into a wide-ranging set of mysteries that may prove to be life-threatening.
This is the 8th book in the ‘McLaren Mysteries’ series but can be read as a stand-alone story. There are allusions to McLaren’s tragic past, but I was relieved to see that he is working through his grief and starting to heal, although possibly with a little bit of rebound effect. I enjoy this author’s ability to evoke quaint scenes of picturesque villages and people them with a broad spectrum of characters who add richness to the story. The vivid descriptions make me want to snuggle into a warm jacket and sip on a steaming cup of tea while following the twisty trail that the detective is doggedly pursuing, even as I scratch my head at some of the interactions he has. Personally, I find it disconcerting that additional points of view suddenly pop up occasionally, and there are odd explosions of violence along the way, but they definitely added to the mystery. There is a hint of otherworldliness that adds to the aura of the story and I enjoyed this opportunity to both armchair travel and savor the mystery. I look forward to finding out what new adventures this tenacious man encounters.
A copy of this title was provided to me for review