Thursday, October 18, 2018

"A Staged Murder" by Jo Hiestand

If you ever visit England’s Peak District, you might want to avoid Guy Fawkes Night.

It’s almost time for the Guy Fawkes bonfire in the Peak village of Upper Kingsleigh. And there are a fair number of American tourists in the gathering crowd, to watch the celebration in remembrance of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. As Ramona VanDyke stands on a ladder to light the effigy, she notices that this is no ordinary replica. It’s real person, a very dead real person and one of the American tourists. And Ramona does what any of us might do. She screams.

Detective-Sergeant Brenna Taylor of the Derbyshire Constabulary is on the scene, helping to maintain order. She’s joined by Detective-Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham and Detective-Sergeant Mark Salt in the investigation. And they quickly discover that there’s more one mystery here. Who killed the man? And how did the body get hoisted up on a tree limb without anyone noticing?

A Staged Murder is Jo Hiestand’s first novel in the Peak District Mystery Series, and it’s a perfect cup of tea if you like mysteries with English village atmosphere, determined police detectives, and a dearth of suspects that becomes a wide array of suspects.

Jo Hiestand
Hiestand is the author of 16 novels in two British detective series, The McLaren Mystery Series and The Peak District Mystery Series. She received a B.A. degree in English from Webster University. She’s a member of the Mystery Writers of America and founded the Greater St. Louis Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She lives in St. Louis.

We begin to learn a bit about the detectives in this first novel in the series. Geoffrey Graham is a former minister; the constabulary has all kinds of rumors of how that happened. Brenna Taylor has to deal with the usual barbs aimed by policewomen by her colleagues and prove she’s capable of doing her job. She’s also more than attracted to her boss, Chief Inspector Graham.

A Staged Murder is an intricate mystery with a strong plot, solid characterization, and a satisfying ending. And it’s only the first of several more in the series.

Top photograph: what usually happens on Guy Fawkes Night – a bonfire; by SJNikon - Sam Roberts via Wikimedia.


Jo said...

Glynn, thank you so much for the nice review of my book. A happy surprise to begin my day! Actually, the sixth book in the series should be out beginning of November, if all goes well. That one is "Searching Shadows" and deals with the British custom of watching the church porch. Thank you again for the super book review.,

Martha Jane Orlando said...

This sounds like a must-read for me. Thanks, Glynn!

Michele Morin said...

I really enjoy this genre, and Jo is an author I've not heard from, so thanks, Glynn!