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The Low Road (Michael McLaren Mystery, #16) by Jo A. Hiestand

McLaren investigates the murder of an old friend while reconnecting with his family. 

Michael McLaren is off his home patch of Derbyshire, visiting his uncle and grandfather in Auchtubh, Scotland. He and his girlfriend, Melanie Travers, are staying in the older man’s ancient and historic home together and have made the trip a small vacation. Until recently, Michael been estranged from his grandfather, but they’d tentatively reconnected. 

The nominal reason for the trip is for Michael and his folksong singing group, Woodstock Town, to perform at the area’s annual Highland Games event. But when one of his friends is murdered at the games, Michael is determined to bring the killer to justice. 

The Low Road is the 16th entry in the Michael McLaren Mystery series by author Jo A. Hiestand, and I found the plot intriguing, the characters interesting, and the Scottish Highlands settings and bits of history spectacular. With it being McLaren’s 16th adventure, there is a bit of backstory to the character; however, the author pulls out the relevant points so that I didn’t feel overwhelmed or behind in the overall story as a new reader. 

This is Melanie’s first visit to Scotland and some of the loveliest and most atmospheric images of the setting are presented through her eyes. The author included a glossary of words, phrases, and place names with pronunciation that I found very helpful. 

The murder mystery is a good one with an interesting hook: the victim’s uncle (of the same name) was murdered exactly a year previously at the games in the same field set aside for the sheaf toss competition. McLaren conducts an admirable and thorough investigation, starting from ground zero with literally nothing to go on. Although, McLaren has no connection to the local police, he investigates because of his close relationship with the victim whom he feels responsible for bringing back to the area where he meets his demise. 

In addition to the excellent plot, another attractive element of the story is the inclusion of smatterings of Scottish and clan history. There are fascinating tidbits about the formation of the clan communities, tartans, crests, mottoes, and an explanation of the well-known folk song, Loch Lomond, with its reference to the low road. I was also surprised by the mention of one victim’s visit to the Crater of Diamonds State Park outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas, as being a possible link to a motive for his death. 

With engaging, recurring characters and the driving force of the murder of a close friend of the main character, I recommend THE LOW ROAD to fans of the Michael McLaren Mystery series and mystery readers looking for an excellent new series to enjoy. 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tours. 

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