Swan Song – A Book Review

This is the first in a series of book reviews I’d like to do as part of my blog.  I’m only going to review books I have enjoyed but I am an avid reader.

The cover of Swan Song by Jo Hiestand

Murders, kidnappings, motives, clues, suspects, and detectives.  Throw in a castle or two, the charming English countryside and quaint villages, and you have yourself a Jo A. Hiestand “McLaren” Mystery.

Swan Song is the second in a series featuring Detective Michael McLaren and is set in Derbyshire in England.  The series is written by Jo A. Hiestand who, funnily enough, is an American.  Her novels are set in Britain but her command of the colloquialisms and her feel for the place is exceptional.  Jo Hiestand is fast becoming a favourite mystery writer in the same class as Deborah Crombie and Peter Robinson.

Michael McLaren is a former police detective who is now making a living at building and repairing drystone walls.  He does not intend to get involved in another “cold case” mystery but is drawn in with the help and a not-too-gentle nudge from his girlfriend, Dena.  It seems a music teacher and performer was murdered the previous year and his case was never solved.  Dena thinks that the case is just what McLaren needs to pull him out of the depression he has been suffering from since his abrupt retirement from the police department the year before.

This book was one I literally couldn’t put down.  The plot revealed itself little by little and I found myself turning the pages with eagerness to find out what was going to happen next.  Never was it predictable, but neither was it unbelievable.  Throughout the book, McLaren uses music to soothe his soul as he deals with the cast of characters he has to interview.  The ex-wife, the next-door neighbour, the teaching colleague, the students, and his singing partners are all well drawn.  Who dunnit???

My eldest daughter who is also a lover of mysteries, says that if a book has a map in it, you know it’s going to be good.

Here is the map that came with Swan Song.

I kept referring back to the map as I got deeper into the story.  I wanted to know where the pub was that he was in or where the festival was being held.  It helped bring the mystery to life.

I have a few questions about McLaren and why he resigned from the police.  Questions about his “enemy” in the police ranks and how he is going to be dealt with in future novels.

I believe there are two more McLaren novels, to join Siren Song, Hiestand’s first and Swan Song.  And someone told me today that the fifth novel has just been started.

Hiestand has another series which I am eager to try – The Taylor & Graham Mysteries.  I can hardly wait.