Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Book Review Tour & Giveaway: The Low Road (A McLaren Mystery, #16) by Jo A. Hiestand

The Low Road

A McLaren Mystery, #16
Jo A. Hiestand

British mystery
Independently published
Publication Date: July 16, 2022
Page count: 344 pages
ISBN-13: 979-8840980989



Former police detective Michael McLaren arrives in Scotland, ready to immerse himself in the fun of the Highland Games and to enjoy a holiday with Melanie. But the old saying of plans oft going awry rears its ugly head: Simon Shaw, a member of McLaren's folk group, dies. Murdered a year to the day following his uncle's death.

McLaren is determined to find out who killed Simon. Needing justice for his friend is only half of his incentive. He also needs to appease his guilt for suggesting the group sing there in the first place.

As McLaren becomes immersed in the investigation, he wonders if the two deaths are linked, or have to do with the family or their clan. Perhaps Simon's former wife killed him, bent on revenge more powerful than mere divorce. Or was the killing tied to an old hunt for diamonds? After all, diamonds aren't only a girl's best friend. Sometimes they birth greed and murder. And entrap the innocent.


| Amazon |



Jamie set the cup down, nearly breaking it. "Oh no. You asked me up here to help Mike and I'm going to. Alone. This could be very dangerous, dealing with a criminal. Mike would never forgive me if..." He broke off, a memory of Mike's fiancée welling up in his mind. Shaking his head, he repeated, "No. He'd have my guts for garters if something were to happen to you. I appreciate you wanting to help, Melanie, but I can't agree."

"You need me as your front, Jamie. I think that's the word. Someone to lend credence to the reason you want to find Paul. If I go with you and I have a nice piece of jewelry, you won't seem dodgy." Her eyebrows rose as she gave him a faint smile. She seemed to be holding her breath.


"A woman hocking her jewelry won't have the whiff of the fishmonger, especially if she seems reluctant to part with an heirloom.  We can even have a bit of dialogue about having to part with great aunt Agnes' favorite necklace. And while I've got his attention, you can have a shufti around his place to suss out what the police will need to pinch him unawares."

Jamie scratched his head, clearly astonished. "I've never heard you use these words before, Melanie. Dodgy. Shufti, Suss out. Fishmonger. Where'd you get them?"

"I listen to Mike. What about it, Jamie? I won't let you down. I was in the thespian club in school."

5 stars!

This was my introduction to Michael McLaren and the series by Jo A. Hiestand, and it was a happy one.

The Low Road is the 16th entry in the Michael McLaren Mystery series by author Jo A. Hiestand, and I found the plot intriguing, the characters interesting, and the Scottish Highlands settings and bits of history spectacular. With it being McLaren’s 16th adventure, there is a bit of backstory to the character; however, the author pulls out the relevant points so that I didn’t feel overwhelmed or behind in the overall story as a new reader.

In The Low Road, McLaren is off his home patch in Derbyshire, visiting extended family (uncle and grandfather). Until recently, he’d been estranged from his grandfather, but they’d reconnected. He and his girlfriend, Melanie Travers, are staying in the older man’s ancient and historic home, so Auchtubh is the home base for this investigation. Melanie is along for the trip to watch Michael and his folksong singing group, Woodstock Town, perform at the area’s annual Highland Games event. This is her first visit to Scotland and some of the loveliest and most atmospheric images of the setting are presented through her eyes. The author included a glossary of words, phrases, and place names with pronunciation that I found very helpful.

The murder mystery is a good one with an interesting hook: the victim’s uncle (of the same name) was murdered exactly a year previously at the games in the same field set aside for the sheaf toss competition. McLaren conducts an admirable and thorough investigation, starting from ground zero with literally nothing to go on. Although, McLaren has no connection to the local police, he investigates because of his close relationship with the victim whom he feels responsible for bringing back to the area where he meets his demise.

In addition to the excellent plot, another attractive element of the story is the inclusion of smatterings of Scottish and clan history. There are fascinating tidbits about the formation of the clan communities, tartans, crests, mottoes, and an explanation of the well-known folk song, Loch Lomond, with its reference to the low road. I was also surprised by the mention of one victim’s visit to the Crater of Diamonds State Park outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas, as being a possible link to a motive for his death.

With engaging, recurring characters and the driving force of the murder of a close friend of the main character, I recommend THE LOW ROAD to fans of the Michael McLaren Mystery series and mystery readers looking for an excellent new series to enjoy.


Jo A. Hiestand grew up on regular doses of music, books, and Girl Scout camping. She gravitated toward writing in her post-high school years and finally did something sensible about it, graduating from Webster University with a BA degree in English and departmental honors. She writes a British mystery series (the McLaren Mysteries)—of which three books have garnered the prestigious N.N. Light’s Book Heaven ‘Best Mystery Novel’ three years straight. She also writes a Missouri-based cozy mystery series (The Cookies & Kilts Mysteries, of which "A Trifling Murder" is the second book) that is grounded in places associated with her camping haunts. The camping is a thing of the past, for the most part, but the music stayed with her in the form of playing guitar and harpsichord, and singing in a folk group. Jo carves jack o’ lanterns badly and sings loudly. She loves barbecue sauce and ice cream (separately, not together), kilts (especially if men wear them), clouds and stormy skies, and the music of G.F. Handel. You can usually find her pulling mystery plots out of scenery—whether from photographs or the real thing.

Jo A. Hiestand will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Jo said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful book review and for hosting my tour stop today. I appreciate both!

Rita Wray said...

I liked the review. Sounds like a good book.

Cali W. said...

Great excerpt and giveaway. :)

Sherry said...

Great excerpt the book sounds very intriguing.

Debbie P said...

This sounds like a very good read.

traciem said...

Happy Sunday!

traciem said...

Here's to a wonderful week~

traciem said...

What is your favorite place to do your writing?

traciem said...

Here's to a wonderful Wednesday!

traciem said...

What's your best advice for beginning writers?

traciem said...

Happy Friday!

traciem said...

Do you prefer warm or colder climates?

traciem said...

Here's to a super upcoming week!

traciem said...

Enjoy the rest of your week!

traciem said...

Do you enjoy watching or playing sports?

traciem said...

Have a fabulous Friday!

traciem said...

Do you plan to watch the Super Bowl?

traciem said...

Have a terrific Thursday!