Friday, May 26, 2023

Review Tour: Overdue (A McLaren Mystery, #17) by Jo A. Hiestand

Jo A. Hiestand

British mystery

Publication Date: January 22, 2023

Page count: 380 pages



A spate of three murders in as many months has Derbyshire’s local police and populace in near panic. And there will most likely be a fourth killing in two weeks unless something happens to stop the cycle. Former police detective Michael McLaren is that “something” that his best mate, Jamie Kydd, is counting on to end the alarming deaths. He enlists McLaren’s help to look into the events, hoping his friend can solve what, so far, has confounded the Constabulary.

Each of the three crime scenes is the same, yet different: the same types of things but not the same specific things left with each body. As McLaren becomes enmeshed in the hunt for the killer, his friend Melanie arrives for a planned visit. Can his days become more complicated than simultaneously playing host and unmasking a killer? They can when he’s aware that each tick of the clock brings them closer to the next planned murder. And perhaps an unplanned one...thrown in for fun.


McLaren tapped the tip of the pen on the pertinent item as he read his list. “One victim lived in Staffordshire, one in Derbyshire, and one in Nottinghamshire. And yet their bodies were all found in Derbyshire?”
“And, oddly, a distance away from where they lived, be it Derbyshire or Staffordshire or Nottinghamshire. As you know, Pleasley is nearly straight southwest of Hilton, where Dylan’s was found.”
“What is that?”
“Nearly forty-one miles. Clive Sheridan lived in Callow but was found in Hanging Bridge. That’s an hour’s journey. Twenty-six and a half miles.”
“A long drive, yes.”
“And Emma, who lived in Longnor, Staffordshire, was found nearly as far north as you can get in Derbyshire. In the wood near the Derwent Water Reservoir.”
“Unbelievable. That’s what...? An hour drive from her place?”
“Close. The lads clocked it at fifty minutes. Just under twenty-four miles.” Jamie folded the paper but placed it on the table. “All three people are like that, Mike. Their bodies were discovered miles from where they lived.”
“How, then, did they get to the crime scenes? And why did they go?”

5 stars!

Another clever and intriguing mystery in the McLaren Mystery series!

Overdue is the 17th case in author Jo A. Hiestand’s outstanding McLaren Mystery series and continues the unofficial investigations of the former detective inspector Michael McLaren. In this new adventure, McLaren is back on his home turf of Derbyshire, assisting his friend, Jamie Kydd, with a baffling series of killings by what the constabulary has dubbed “The Signed Murders.” 

As I only picked up on this series with the previous novel, The Low Road, and it was set in Scotland while McLaren and his woman friend, Melanie, were staying with his father, I was glad that this book returned to Derbyshire where he lives and had his successful career as an investigator. As readers accompany Mike while he backtracks the police investigation, reworking their leads and contacts, we also get a glimpse of the Peak District of England. McLaren has come to terms with his actions that had him leaving the force and appears satisfied with his new life in which he repairs dry stone walls for a living and occasionally plays music with his pals. Amid the current case, Melanie is headed up for a visit and a look-see at houses in Mike’s village as their relationship progresses. (Yay!) And readers also get a closer look into McLaren’s relationship with his sister, Gwen. 

Because there are three murders tied to the same killer, McLaren has numerous contacts to follow up on, people that knew the victims, and three different crime scenes to visit. Some time has passed since the murders occurred, though these are still very active cases, and the families of the victims are anxious and angry that the police haven’t solved their loved ones’ murders yet. Adding to the pressure is the fear that the serial killer is about to strike again should they follow their established pattern. I was intrigued by the killer’s MO of affixing an odd memento to each victim’s corpse and leaving a slip of paper with a partial name on it at the crime scenes. McLaren’s investigation uncovers various clues and motives, and with plenty of twists and turns, I was kept guessing about the truth until the final reveal. I will be reading more of this series for sure. 

With its top-rate mystery and savvy, likable “unofficial” detective, I recommend OVERDUE to mystery readers who enjoy series or standalone books and cases solved by trained investigators rather than amateurs.


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 $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC, to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Jo said...

Karen, thank you so much for the splendid book review and for posting the book stop today. I appreciate both!

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

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