Jo A. Hiestand
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 fiancee.
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 watery death that he realizes who killed Fiona⎯implications that are as deep and dark as the Scottish loch.
The dog growled again, a deep throated threat of pending attack.
McLaren stepped around the dog, trying not to alarm or distract it. He hesitated, gazing at the top of the stairs again, considering which way to turn at the landing. No sound carried down to them. That wouldn’t help locate the intruder. He murmured, “I’ll see if something’s wrong, shall I? You stay here, Grandfather.”
Neill grabbed the dog’s collar, whispering “Heel” as he pulled Mungo to his side.
McLaren eased onto the bottom step, hesitated, then inched up to the landing. He paused, letting his eyes adjust to the gloom and listened. A sound of wood sliding on wood came from his left. Was someone opening a dresser drawer? He tiptoed down the hallway, keeping as close to the wall as possible. If the floor had a tendency to squeak, it would most likely be in the middle where centuries of traffic had weakened it.
He kept his left hand on the wall, balancing himself and feeling for unexpected objects like framed photos, which might fall and alert the intruder if McLaren knocked against them. But the wall was bare. Only the feel of wallpaper slid beneath his fingers.
He stopped a foot or so from the first room on his left and listened. Even though the door was closed, the faint scraping was more distinct. He crept up to the door, his right hand on the knob, his left hand near the door’s edge. He flung open the door. The sound of scraping wood, the sensation of cold air, and an image of a dark shape greeted him.
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 Peak District mysteries and the McLaren mystery series.
Jo’s insistence for accuracy--from police methods and location layout to the general “feel” of the area--has 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-area home.
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3.75 out of 5 stars
Photo Shoot by Jo A. Hiestand is part of the ‘McLaren Mysteries’ series and centers around the doughty former police detective as he becomes closer to his formerly estranged surviving relatives. His desire to help celebrate his uncle’s recent marriage is complicated by a request to investigate a cold case involving the man’s former fiancée. Using his honed investigative skills, he attempts to ferret out the truth behind her death, but the risk to him and his family may be a higher price to pay than anyone anticipated.
This mystery evokes the stark beauty of Scotland and its lochs and stalwart inhabitants. The detective-turned-stonemason is as tenacious as ever and a study in contrasts with his desire to make a connection that wars with his instinctive withdrawal from society to continue mourning his losses. I enjoy being able to armchair travel and get a glimpse of a society far different from my own and I wish I could get to know the characters in a little more depth. There are entertaining twists to the story but I think there are a few dangling threads that still need to be resolved. Despite this, I enjoy watching Michael McLaren’s investigative techniques and his patience for teasing out important details and I think that those who enjoy mysteries in an exotic setting should give this story a try.
A copy of this title was provided to me for review