An Unfolding Trap
Jo A. Hiestand
Wild Rose Publishing
Since his infancy, Michael McLaren has been the target of his paternal grandfather’s anger. So when the patriarch sends an invitation to heal the rift, McLaren travels to Scotland, eager to meet and finally end the feud. But the welcome never happens. If Grandfather hadn’t invited him, who had? And why?
In Edinburgh, a man standing beside McLaren in a bus queue is killed in a hit-and-run accident. After an attack leaves McLaren for dead on a wintry moor, he’s convinced someone from his past is trying to murder him. As McLaren trails the hit-and-run driver from the medieval ‘underground city’ of Edinburgh to the Boar’s Rock the MacLaren Clan’s ancestral meeting place the assaults intensify, and he’s plunged into a very personal hunt for a World War II treasure. The puzzle is fascinating; he just has to stay alive to solve it.
Oh was this a fun read. Aside from the fact that I’m obsessed with all things Scottish, and having nothing to do with the image of the central character on the author’s website, this was a truly fun read. Delicious details about the streets of Edinburgh plopped me right back there amid the sounds and buildings of that glorious town. McLaren is a delightful character with motivation, goals, and conflicts. You’ll be hooked right away when he arrives at his grandfather’s house and encounters a reaction to his arrival. The intrigue with Charlie and McLaren’s grandfather are good complications, and as we ride along in the investigation, we are treated to his responses, actions, and behaviors that show us the type of man he is. The dimension to McLaren’s character is enjoyable and well done. The conclusion is satisfying, and you will really feel for McLaren. This is not the first in the series. That means I’ll be headed to Scotland from my chair and a wee bit more of fine McLaren.
The upper landing was dimly lit, so as not to spoil the theatricality of the underground scene. But tiny strips of lights shone from beneath the stair treads, defining the path to the bottom. His left hand slid slowly along the metal railing, gripping more firmly as he paused to find each successive step. He felt the small torch in his jacket pocket but didn’t remove it. He needed his eyes to acclimate to the darkness. He came to the second landing and the railing snaked back on itself, yet still angled downward. McLaren could see a small pool of light at ground level, a dozen stairs below. It seemed to come from a small door to the right. He took a deep breath, steeling his nerves, and descended. At the bottom of the spiraled staircase he stood for moment, letting his eyes become accustomed to the near darkness. The ceiling was not much more than head high and seemed to mock his fear of confinement. Ahead he heard a voice relating the Close’s history. The voice sounded thin, bouncing off the hard walls. He took a few steps past the bottom landing and looked around. The gloom intimidated him, threatened to suffocate him. Ahead and to his right pinpricks of weak yellowish light displaced some of the gloom and defined the areas through the maze, but murkiness filled the majority of the expanse. He moved slowly, his feet gliding over the rough ground, his hand skating over the wall. His fingers touched the bumps and small protuberances, skimming over them as though he were reading Braille.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
A month-long trip to England during her college years introduced Jo to the joys of Things British. Since then, she has been lured back nearly a dozen times, and lived there during her professional folk singing stint. This intimate knowledge of Britain forms the backbone of both the Taylor & Graham mysteries and the McLaren cold case mystery series. Jo’s insistence for accuracy, from police methods and location layout to the general feel of the area, has driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire for research. These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the detail filling the books. In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors. Her cat Tennyson shares her St. Louis home.