A Staged Murder
by Jo A. Hiestand
Jo will be awarding a handmade lapis lazuli necklace on a bamboo cord to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour - International giveaway. The cord is adjustable and the necklace is comprised of three stones ranging in length from 1 5/8" to 2 1/8". (It's like the one Brenna Taylor in the book wears). Please visit GoddessFish.com to follow the tour, remember the more you comment better your chances on winning.
Bonfire Night! The four hundred-year-old tradition of burning the straw effigy is beginning in Upper Kingsleigh, England. The torch extends… But it’s no mock figure at the end of the rope; it’s the body of a man, an American tourist. Brenna Taylor, Derbyshire C.I.D., is assigned to the case on a team of detectives under Detective-Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham. It is the chance Brenna has been waiting for, and she is anxious to impress him.
Most villagers suspect an outsider as the killer. But when the frost-covered body of a resident is discovered, apprehension shifts and suspects multiply. Among them are the American's brother-in-law, still angry over his sister's death; the husband, who fears his wife will desert him for the American; the inebriated, penniless uncle, who clings to his nephew's fortune tighter than a cork in a wine bottle. Then Brenna becomes the target of a series of frightening pranks--the work of a harassing male colleague, or a deadly warning to leave the case? Her hunt is personal now.
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Graham related the skeletal facts during the drive to the cottage. His words came haltingly as he concentrated on both the road and the death. Gravel splayed onto road-hugging plants, dusting the frosted vegetation a dull brown as he executed a sharp corner. It wasn’t until he braked the car several meters from the cottage that I relinquished my life-preserving grip on the door’s armrest. He was out of the car before I could unbuckle my seat belt.
We remained approximately twenty-five meters from the body so as not to contaminate the scene, yet close enough to get a preliminary view. The paper suits we needed to wear to allow up close and personal contact would arrive with the rest of the crime team. Until then, we would have to be content with examining from afar.
Graham paced back and forth on the driveway, trying for the best view.
She lay on her back, knees bent, feet tucked beneath her. Her left arm stretched out above her head as though she was in school, raising her hand. Her right elbow was bent, allowing her right hand to lie beneath the small of her back. She seemed more suited to the bedroom than to the wintry elements, for she was clothed in a matching turquoise robe and nightgown. That and the slippers appeared to be her only attire.
Frozen, I thought, my eyes traveling over the frost-stiffened fabric. Frozen in time. As though mimicking a 1950s pinup photo. The robe was open, the tie belt strung out and several feet from the body, having freed itself from the belt loops. She seemed to be barely wearing the robe, for the upper portion lay halfway down her arms, exposing her shoulders. The generous hemline of the nightgown fanned out and bunched up in one place to expose her right thigh. Like an absurd epaulet, a broken strap dangled over her right shoulder. She might have been provocative if it wasn’t for the ghost-white, shocked face with its eyes staring at the sky.
She was also very wet and very frost-covered.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
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. This intimate knowledge of Britain forms the backbone of the Peak District mystery series.
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 detail filling the books.
In 1999 she returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.
Jo founded the Greater St. Louis Chapter of Sisters in Crime, serving as its first president. Besides her love of mysteries and early music, she also enjoys photography, reading, creating recipes, and her backyard wildlife. Her cat, Tennyson, shares her St. Louis home.