Monday, August 7, 2023

The Cottage by Jo A. Hiestand


The Cottage: A McLaren MysteryThe Cottage: A McLaren Mystery by Jo A. Hiestand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this 18th book of the McLaren series Melanie is finally moving to McLarens’s hometown, Derbyshire. She intends to own and run a B&B as she has in Moorton. She’ll be closer to him and still be able to support herself as well as send her daughter to college.

The Cottage is a more comfortable, possibly lighter, type atmosphere than some of Hiestand’s mysteries in this series. The lonely moors and dark settings that fit her previous mysteries are only in the background. They have always fit a very moody McLaren; he’s a complex man. But this is a happy time. Michael and Melanie are still not sure what the future looks like, but there can be no question of their love for one another.

Amongst all of the packing and hectic planning, McLaren agrees to help Melanie’s friend solve the conundrum of the accusations against her parents and their ensuing deaths. McLaren knows he can’t possibly have time to investigate and finish the packing on time. Even though he must endure all of Jamie’s good-natured groaning, he still asks for his help. Hiestand has always seemed to make their light-hearted banter fun and while there may be packing boxes piled helter-skelter, having Jamie there seems to make the atmosphere restful, almost family-like. Plenty of Jamie and McLaren’s playful bickering fills the air while Melanie sits and shakes her head at them or occasionally scolds them both.

Heistand still manages to keep that congenial family feeling when McLaren arrives back at Melanie’s at the end of each day. The threesome take time for a nightcap and recap his findings for the day. But this “homey” feeling soon turns into worry and a feeling of unease as McLaren gets deeper into the investigation. Just who did he speak with that caused the attacks? Was he getting too close? The tension begins to build, and an intense action scene takes place that had me sitting on the edge of my seat. At that point, all I could do was read on and hold tight.
Hope she’s already working on Book 19.

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