SHADOW IN THE SMOKE
The McLaren Mysteries, #3
by Jo A. Hiestand
Narrator: Steve HartLength: 8 hours 32 minutes
Released: November 30th 2019
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Jo A. Hiestand's Casting Picks
Since McLaren as well as the series is British, I’ll go with British actors. I’d cast Matt Ryan or Ben Mansfield as Michael McLaren. McLaren’s friend and sidekick Jamie Kydd would be Oliver Coleman. Although, when I began the series some time ago, I imagined Douglas Henshall as Jamie. But time’s marched on and Douglas Henshall—as well as all of us—has aged a bit, leaving my book-bound Jamie at Oliver Coleman’s age. Jamie’s in the other books, so Mr. Coleman could be in the series, if it came to that! McLaren’s girlfriend Dena could be played by Lena Headey. Charlie Harvester, who is McLaren’s nemesis, could be played by Patrick Malahide.
Janet Ennis tragically died five years ago in what the police labeled an accidental fire. But Janet’s mother, Nora, believes it to be murder and arson. And she’s hoping ex-cop Michael McLaren can prove it quickly, for she’s losing her memory to dementia.
As McLaren pokes through the case details, he becomes emotionally involved with the dead woman. Yet, Janet isn’t the only person who threatens his mental well-being. A series of arsons on his own property hint that he’s upset someone connected with this case.
Motives for Janet’s murder rise like the smoky tendrils of a fire. And motive aside, the murder scene seems a bit too pat: a drought-stricken landscape eager to lap up flames and a conveniently locked door barring Janet’s escape.
Will McLaren solve the case while Nora can still comprehend the resolution, or will Harvester’s plans see McLaren’s career go up in smoke?
Jo A. Hiestand can usually be found at her computer, which is good, since she writes three mystery series. It seems a natural progression from her job as a graphic artist – crafting word images on a sheet of paper instead of creating graphics on the computer screen. Between the two computer stints, she lived in Britain for her semi-pro folk singing career and became friends with several English police detectives. The latter relationship was not a consequence of the former calling, however, but all these UK aspects find their way into her books. When not tapping on the keyboard, Jo enjoys reading, baking, and photography. She lives in the St Louis area with her cat, Tennyson, and way too many kilts.
After a number of years with commercial radio covering two continents, Steve Hart moved toward narration after being asked to perform his first novel in 2005. As it turned out, his story telling ability became stronger as each book and year passed. Steve considers narration an on-going study that even requires constant focus and the mindset of ‘always be willing to learn and grow.’ “Many people have an opinion on ‘how to read’ a book, but I believe there is only one way—you have to be in it! Immersed in the story and being the character(s) as they move through it. Projecting the emotion and bringing the whole story to life, while making it easy to consume for the listener.”
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