Jo A Hiestand: Ancestral Whispers

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Ancestral Whispers

by Jo A Hiestand


GENRE: Mystery  (British)



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…



Mark bent over, silently cursing. No other police officer could be seen and I didn’t want to stop the shoppers to ask if they’d seen Delmar Goodfellow running for his life. I was about to suggest we go back to the car when I saw a person walk away from the corner of Jack Darkgate’s house. Tapping Mark’s arm, I nodded in the direction of the movement. Goodfellow raced along the path leading up the hill, but we weren’t far behind him.

The trail plowed through the patch of grassland between Jonah’s and Jack’s houses, from the lane to the base of the hill. From there it snaked uphill, alternately hiding and showing itself through the curtain of trees and boulders. As we came to the hill, I hesitated and glanced up. Late afternoon already wrapped the side facing us in indigo shadow. Violet-tinted shapes that could be trees or stones stretched onto the path. A flock of jackdaws rose from the cliff face, screeching against the sky and wheeling over the hilltop. I called to Mark to stop. He turned, the look on his face betraying his annoyance at losing even one second.

“What?” His breathing was loud and deep.

“It’ll be dusk soon, Mark. It’ll be hard to see in the wood.”

Despite his desire to rush on ahead, he glanced to his left. The wood held the last vestiges of daylight but farther to the west the trees lost themselves to the anonymity of approaching twilight. He exhaled loudly and shook off my hand. “I’m going ahead. You don’t have to. I need to catch him.” Before I could reply, he raced on.

I ran as best as I could, but the rocky path slowed my speed, and nettles and twigs grabbed at my trousers. Mark evidently took no notice of this, for he was at least twenty yards ahead of me.

As the path angled upward, it leveled slightly and I made better time. The soil was less rocky here, although closer to the cliff face, and I slowed slightly so I wouldn’t fall. Several yards farther on, the trail veered to the left, leaving the cliff, and I plunged ahead as fast as I dared go. Mark was in front of me, and though I could see him, it was the sound of breaking twigs and his shoes pounding the trail that guided me.

Which gave me an idea.

A dozen yards ahead the wood thinned to a small clearing. The light here was brighter and I could see Mark pause on the other side of a dead oak. He stood where the path branched and looked at the ground. I jogged over to him, careful not to step on the twigs and pinecones littering the area. Holding my right index finger before my lips, I turned my head to my left, listening for Goodfellow’s mad crash through the trees.


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.

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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In The Key Of Love

I should have known I would end up here... Give me a good book and I'm in heaven. Especially romance, mystery, mayhem, the fantastic and the fey. Give me a laptop and I'm writing any one of these, and not in any particular order.

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