"There are enough twists and turns and hints in this story that I’m sure you’ll “think” you can figure out the “who-dun-it” part before the end. But I bet not. [...] I do not think there would be any problem reading it as a stand-alone. The only problem I can see would be in not reading it. Make sure you do so." Kathy, Goodreads
Published: January 10th, 2020
Each year the residents of Nether Haddon celebrate the village’s founding in the time-honored way with games, music, and performances by their sword dancers. But something new is added to the fancy footwork this year: a team member dies ... murdered. Fear, jealousy and suspicion quickly engulf the group, emotions as tightly interlocked as the five swords used in the dance: a series of turns jumps and clogging steps intricate as Celtic knots. Was the victim the intended target, or should it have been someone else? In the course of the CID investigation, a mysterious 17th-century puzzle is discovered. Does it hold a clue to the murder?
Detective Brenna Taylor and her colleagues have more than enough to worry about. But unbeknownst to her, career criminal King Roper has escaped from prison where he was serving time for murder. Now free and eager to settle the score for his capture, Roper tracks down Brenna’s whereabouts, ready for revenge...
A worse day for dancing couldn’t exist if we’d planned it. Not for the first time that day Michael Green mopped his forehead and glanced at the sky. Bright blue and cloudless, with a sun the size of a grapefruit. He would’ve bet anybody nearly anything that the sun funneled its heat onto the wood stage. Deliberately, if anyone wanted his opinion. Like that old Aesop fable “The North Wind and the Sun.” Except there was no traveler in the village. Just them—the group of dancers—the fete-goers and the audience. Daft, all of us. Out in heat hot enough to kill.
He blotted his hand against his forehead, cursing the weather. Heat rose as though from an oven, and he wondered if the group could move their performance to the grove of trees, where it was shady and cooler.
He took a step toward the group’s leader to suggest it but a scream stopped him. Turning, he stared openmouthed, then lent his shout to the screams that were already echoing down the village lanes and slamming against buildings. It fell quiet only when the two men fell.
A strained stillness born of disbelief and fear settled on the area and froze the onlookers in their tracks. Alastair Marshall lay at the base of an electric light pole, his hand outstretched, his face contorted. His cousin, Simon Roe, lay twenty feet away, his eyes closed as if in sleep. He’d evidently escaped Alastair’s fate by the grace of God and an injured ankle. For fate is what it appeared to be. Only Alastair had touched the light switch.
After what seemed like eons, some of the onlookers ran to disengage Alastair from the electric current coursing through his body; some people yelled for water or beer and tried to revive Simon, who clutched his chest on sitting up and began yelling for his cousin. Some ran to get the vicar, first aid supplies, and ice. Some stood rooted to the spot, immobile with distress. Some slowly sank to the ground or clung to others, their legs unable to hold them just as their minds were unable to understand. One person thought to ring up the police…
About the author:
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 folksinging stint.
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 details filling both her Peak District mysteries and the McLaren mystery series.
In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.
Her McLaren mystery, BLACK MOON, received the ‘N.N. Light Best Mystery Book’ award for 2019.
Jo lives with her cat, Tennyson, and way too many kilts in the St. Louis-area.
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