"This is probably my favorite McLaren mystery that I've read in a long time. [...] The characters are well developed with depth and richness. The action scenes are gripping. The mystery keeps the reader guessing right to the end." N.N.Light, Goodreads
Cameron Rutter drowned two months ago in a lake on a Cheshire moor. Some say a morgen—a spirit who drags men to a watery grave—was responsible. Others say it was the phantom Grey Lady. The police say Gareth Gynne was the guilty one. Whoever—or whatever—killed Cameron needs to be sorted out. And ex-police detective Michael McLaren is asked to do just that.
McLaren’s not keen on delving into the mystery. The accused is the nephew of McLaren’s nemesis, Charlie Harvester. And if there’s one thing McLaren doesn’t want to do is to associate with another Harvester, no matter what generation he is.
Suspects and motives are as tangled as the mere grass. Did a villager kill Cameron, opposed to his crusade to keep the moor in its pristine state? Or did someone previously arrested by Cameron kill him in revenge?
Or was the morgen really responsible?
Can McLaren discover the killer, or will he too become a victim of the haunted water?
McLaren glanced through the large windows consuming the front wall of the shop. “The mere’s where Cameron was found, correct?”
“Yes. Dwfn Mere.” He angled his head slightly, his eyebrow raised. “How’s your Welsh? You know what dwfn mere means?”
“Mere is pool or lake. Well, some small body of water like that. Dwfn throws me, I’ll admit.”
“Dwfn means deep.”
McLaren nodded. “Sounds intimidating. Deep pool.”
“At least the early residents thought so. But even if it’s not deep, it’s supposed to be haunted, which might be worse.”
“It does change the feelings, I agree. Haunted water versus deep water.” He eyed Gareth and his forehead wrinkled slightly. “Haunted by what?”
“A morgen.” Gareth screwed up the corner of his mouth, frowning. “I’ve always wondered if the villagers named the water first and then the morgen came along to live there, or if they encountered the morgen first and then figured she had to live in a deep lake to avoid scrutiny.” He seemed to force a smile, but McLaren detected a serious look in Gareth’s eyes.
“This is the first I’ve heard of the morgen. I didn’t know Heywood Heath was thought to have one.”
“Your knowledge of Welsh extends to morgens, then.”
“The female water spirit who drowns men.”
Gareth nodded. “I know how it sounds, but there are many people around here who swear the water is haunted. They won’t go near it.” The little remaining humor had gone from his face and voice. “Sometimes I think they’re right. I could almost swear she killed Cameron because I sure as hell didn’t.”
About the author:
Jo A. Hiestand grew up on regular doses of music, books, and Girl Scout camping. She gravitated toward writing in her post-high school years and finally did something sensible about it, graduating from Webster University with a BA degree in English and departmental honors. She writes two British mystery series—of which two books have garnered the prestigious N.N. Light’s Book Heaven ‘Best Mystery Novel’ two years straight. She also writes two Missouri-based mystery series that are grounded in places associated with her camping haunts. The camping is a thing of the past, for the most part, but the music stayed with her in the form of playing guitar and harpsichord, and singing in a folk group. Jo carves jack o’ lanterns badly; sings loudly; and loves barbecue sauce and ice cream (separately, not together), kilts (especially if men wear them), clouds and stormy skies, and the music of G.F. Handel. You can usually find her pulling mystery plots out of scenery—whether from photographs or the real thing.
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