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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“Have you any thoughts why Steve Pedersen should be murdered?” Graham said.
Though decidedly slurred, the statement was understandable, and drew our attention to the newcomer in the doorway. Propped up like a limp sack of potatoes from the bonfire, a man slumped against the doorjamb. One hand was wrapped around the edge of the door, the other hand wrapped around a glass. He uttered his question again, this time to the door.
Obviously embarrassed and annoyed, Arthur rose quickly. Glancing at us, he mumbled an introduction. “This is my uncle, Gilbert Catchpool. He’s visiting for a few days.”
As if editorializing, the wood-cased clock on the mantle belched the half-hour, then settled into silence.
Uncle Gilbert lifted the glass to his lips and, as though using the glass as odd binoculars or telescope, staggered into the room, barely consuming more whiskey than he spilled. He paused at the couch as Arthur rushed up to him.
Remarkable. No family resemblance at all, I thought, scanning the paintings on the wall. The Catchpools were, without exception, angular, bony people. Brunets and redheads. There were several noses that seemed to pass themselves from father to son, and an occasional cleft chin, but the verification of Catchpool splendor and lineage rested in the eyes. Dress altered with the generations, but those large, close-set eyes linked them. And Gilbert Catchpool either echoed the maternal line or was a throwback to an earlier branch, I thought, for everything about him was round. But his round hazel eyes had taken on a definite red hue, as had the circular spot of pale skin at the back of his head. An emphatic stomach rolled down his substantial frame, threatening to overflow the confines of his belt.
Gilbert’s free hand dug into the back of the sofa for support, giving him the appearance of someone leaning into a cyclone. He swayed slightly, alternately blinking and pulling back his eyelids, trying to focus his eyes and mind. Like a bully clamoring for a fight, he demanded our names, and to know who had been murdered.
“Steve Pedersen’s been murdered,” Graham replied from his chair.
Gilbert squinted at his nephew, as though the name and circumstances nagged at him from somewhere within his mental morass. “Do we know him? Did I murder him?”
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)