Saturday, December 9, 2023

Christmas at Corbie Hall


Christmas at Corbie Hall: A McLaren Mystery
by Jo A Hiestand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If the weather wasn’t so unpredictable in Scotland McLaren and Melanie might not have arrived early at Corbie Hall. The McLaren estate belonging to his grandfather was their destination to celebrate the Christmas holidays with the family. If McLaren hadn’t been there early what would have happened to the dead body found on the steps of the estate? What if McLaren’s somewhat strong, bullheaded grandfather hadn’t wanted McLaren to investigate regardless of the holiday season? Lots of “ifs” lead up to another great McLaren mystery.

This is a bit of a different feel from the previous books in the series. It took McLaren a long time to get over the death of his first fiancé, but now he has been able to move forward. He’s known Melanie for quite some time, and she has become the love of his life. Hiestand sets this story right in the middle of McLaren’s remaining family’s estate. A clan full of history, originally known as the MacLaren clan. The settings of a beautiful estate, holiday customs, a castle, and a touch of romance almost sweep you away in the beauty of the surroundings. But then, you find the intricate parts of the mystery and the clues woven into the story have your mind whisked away trying once more to determine who really committed this crime.

There are a few items that have kept me glued to this series. Many of the stories are set in different parts of the country. This author seems so very good at the description of the beauty of the land, its moors, its castles, and the small towns scattered throughout. Some of her stories might have a new side character, but the characters I’m comfortable with, the ones I know so well, seem to always pop up in these books. I think it is one of the reasons you can picture her characters. She’s made them familiar, almost family.

Don’t get me wrong, just because you are familiar with her characters, doesn’t mean these can't be read as stand-alone mysteries. I’ve said this before and will plagiarize myself here by saying that Hiestand weaves and winds those parts of McLaren’s life and his friends without you ever thinking it is a repeat from another book. Somehow, you’ll have a good understanding of past events and yet all the time be deep in the middle of the current cold case McLaren is trying to solve.

Christmas at Corbie Hall is the 19th book in the McLaren series. I’ve read them all, and not one has ever disappointed me. Each one is a British mystery and each one is a totally new and different case for Michael McLaren. Wish this could become a TV series.

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