Yay for my second audiobook blog tour! Thank you again so much to Audiobookworm Promotions for including me in this blog tour. I am such a huge audiobook stan and I love getting the opportunity to review a book based on their audiobook. It can have such a different experience from reading it either physically or on an eReader. I really feel like the narrator can make or break the experience, so I thank you for allowing me to give my honest opinion on these novels! Click on the banner for more information and the full tour schedule.
One dark night, popular singer Kent Harrison goes missing after his performance at 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 standing room only. Did Dave murder Kent to eliminate the competition…or had their partnership struck a wrong chord?
To entice him into investigating, ex-cop 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 web of jealousy, anger, and lies covers the trails.
Click on the banner above to listen to an audio excerpt of the novel!
Jo A. Hiestand can usually be found at her computer, which is good, since she writes three mystery series. It seems a natural progression from her job as a graphic artist – crafting word images on a sheet of paper instead of creating graphics on the computer screen. Between the two computer stints, she lived in Britain for her semi-pro folk singing career and became friends with several English police detectives. The latter relationship was not a consequence of the former calling, however, but all these UK aspects find their way into her books. When not tapping on the keyboard, Jo enjoys reading, baking, and photography. She lives in the St Louis area with her cat, Tennyson, and way too many kilts.
Disclaimer: I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jo A Hiestand. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
So this one was pretty interesting. I personally love listening to mysteries, even reading them every once in a while. I like them because I like to see if I can figure out who the bad guy is, and I’m directly following the train of thought of the main character and figuring out what’s going on with them rather than it just being a side plot. Does that even make sense? You know what I mean.
But anyway, while this story was the second in the McLaren Mystery series, there wasn’t too much backstory needed in order to understand what was going on with this book’s mystery. While I was curious to know what happened with McLaren that made him get out of the police force – that seems to be a sore subject for both him and his girlfriend Dena – I feel like I could find that information out in the first book, and find out how that first mystery went. They did reference it though, something about him almost dying. So clearly that first mystery that he solved in the previous book got pretty intense.
The story in itself was okay, and while I felt like there were certain parts of the plot that jumped around – especially while I was listening to it – I was able to follow what was going on for the most part. I will say that I feel like the production of this audiobook was done with limited resources, and it was done pretty well considering that. There were a few times where I thought I heard a page turning, or where the audio would cut out abruptly and switch to something else, which was part of why I thought the plot was jumping around, but all in all I think this was a valiant attempt with the equipment and resources at hand.
I’m actually really curious to see if the first book tells us more about why McLaren isn’t part of the police force anymore, or if the next books give us more insight into this backstory. It also looks like there may have been some re branding on this series, so be on the lookout for that!
Oh look, I get to find out a little bit more about Mr. McLaren with you, because I had the pleasure of interviewing him for my blog. How fun is that right? Let’s see what he has to tell us about his journey as a detective and other things we may need to know about him. I’m so curious to find out.
Mr. McLaren, I know you were a police detective with the Staffordshire Constabulary. What made you leave that job?
A year ago a burglar broke into a pub that was owned by a 70-year old friend of mine. My friend hit the burglar with a fireplace poker in the process of defending his wife, himself and his job. The senior investigating police officer arrested my friend for assault, a charge that was obviously revenge and aimed at me for our personal differences. I was outraged at the arrest and threw the officer into a handy rose bush. When I was given the choice of taking a reduction in rank or resigning from the job, I left.
Goodness! That was a life-changing decision. What do you do now?
I repair and build dry stone walls in Derbyshire. I like the work because it’s solitary — that way, I don’t have to deal with people or their betrayals. Also gives me time to think.
I understand you’ve solved some cold cases on your own, mostly murders. When did you get your private investigator’s license?
I’m not a PI. I look into cold cases strictly as a private citizen. People I question have no obligation to answer my questions, but I find most of them are happy to assist me. When I need something official done, like arresting a suspect, I phone the Derbyshire Constabulary and they handle it.
When you’re not busy with our stone wall job or investigating cold cases, what fills your time?
I have a girlfriend, Dena, and I try to spend as much time with her as I can. We’re both busy, though–she volunteers at a tiger sanctuary and I of course have my two jobs. But I also play guitar and sing with my folk group. That’s strictly amateur stuff, however. We sing in a pub for drinks. I also like to cook and bake. My mum taught me while I was a kid–basic, simple British dishes. When I was on my own, I ventured into international cooking somewhat, but I still prefer making simple things like cider-baked potatoes, leek soup, and honeyed turkey. I think I like baking better than cooking, and I usually make something at least once a week. Things like scones or shortbread or a cottage loaf. Kneading bread is very relaxing.
Cooking and baking are great ways to unwind, yes. Does Dena like to join you in the kitchen?
Not really. I have her over for dinner about once a month, and she’s very content to let me do the whole meal! She says her culinary skill extends to opening a tin of soup and microwaving that, but I know she’s jesting. Dena’s involved in a lot of charity work and hasn’t the time or energy for cooking, although she can whip together a brilliant Lancashire Hot Pot when she really wants to.
Had you always wanted to be in law enforcement?
I think I became interested in my late teen years. My family lived in Scotland, in Auchtubh, north of Edinburgh, until I was two years old. My grandfather assumed my dad (his older son) would follow in the family tradition of overseeing the family business one day. My grandfather owns Strathearn Brewery. It’s been in existence for three hundred years. When my dad moved our family to Derbyshire, England to help out another branch of the family, we put down roots there. I grew up in the English environment and, since we weren’t involved in the running of the brewery, I became enamoured with law enforcement. I really don’t know how or why that evolved, but I loved the job and made some smashing friends.
You mentioned your folk group. Tell me a bit about that.
It’s a quartet: three lads and a lass. We do mainly British and American folk, mainly traditional things but we’ll sneak in a contemporary song or two at times. I play guitar. We took our group name, Woodstock Town, from one of the first songs we worked up, “Near Woodstock Town.” That was a smash hit when we performed it, probably because we had fewer wrong notes in that than in the others we sang.
If you sing in a folk group, you must like music. Do you have any other type of music or group in particular as a favorite?
Obviously, I like folk. But I like classic jazz and many Romantic and Baroque era pieces quite a lot. Things by Handel, Bach, Telemann are favorites, as are Grieg and Mendelssohn. I like Marian McPartland a lot too. I lean toward traditional folk, but if you want names of contemporary artists, I’d include the American a cappella group The Wee Heavies and the Scottish lads The McCalmans.
Getting back to your cold case investigations… Have any cases been particularly difficult to solve, or have any of the victims touched your heart?
I’d say the case I just finished was difficult emotionally for me. Dena, my girlfriend, had tried to get me interested in the case. She did a bit of amateur sleuthing so she could present me with some facts to entice me to investigate–her sleuthing was highly dangerous, by the way, and got her into grave danger. I had to rescue her and also solve the case.