A Staged Murder
by Jo A. Hiestand


GENRE: Mystery



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.



“Has anyone ever told you you’ve got a detective’s mind, Taylor?”

“First I’ve heard it mentioned, sir.”

Graham’s fingers lay loosely across the steering wheel, drumming out a steady beat. I wondered if he was mentally playing a favorite piece of music. I glanced out the window, not wanting him to know I was curious about him. A faint fragment of a tune escaped his lips. So, he likes Handel. And the keyboards in Handel’s day were the organ and harpsichord. Was that the instrument office gossip had joked about? I recalled catching the tail end of one joke as I entered the canteen one day—Graham in a white wig and asking about key information and if anyone could handle it—but at the time I had assumed it was linked to his ministerial career. Graham at the harpsichord was a different image than I would have conjured up. I glanced at my own left hand, surreptitiously pressing the fingertips against my thumb. The calluses from years of guitar playing were hard, unlike the softer touch needed for stroking harpsichord keys. I knew that much from my brother.

I looked at Graham’s hands again. Did harpsichord and guitar sound good in duet? I was about to ask Graham when he said, “It’s not too awfully late, Taylor. Just gone ten o’clock. What say you sharpen your interviewing skills and tackle the Halfords. The female link is vital at times. Women convey sympathy, understanding, patience. I’ll see about that incident room. I hope I didn’t just turn down the only available space in the village.”

“We can always plead stupidity. It wouldn’t surprise a lot of people.”


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.






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)


a Rafflecopter giveaway