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.
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.