Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Empty Handed Review Tour

One dark night artist Craig Saxton went missing from his village.  His body was found thirty-two hours later in the river, floating like a bobber on a fishing line. Rumors swell like tidal waves: did his ex-wife or his fiancée’s father kill this likeable young man? Or was it simply a case of jealousy by the village’s other artist? Now, two years later, Craig’s fiancée hopes ex-police detective Michael McLaren can find out. From speaking to villagers, McLaren quickly realizes that what appears to be a straightforward investigation is fast becoming as tangled as fishing lines. Are the fish poaching incidents, the reappearance of the local ghost, and assaults on him merely to muddy the investigative waters, or are they connected to Craig’s death? McLaren has his hands full. They become even fuller when a nemesis from his past appears one night, bent on revenge. And the inevitable struggle opens a new future for one man…and leaves the other empty handed.

He was a dozen yards or so from the fishing cottage, heading back to the bridge, when a branch snapped. McLaren halted, shining his light in the direction of the sound. He hesitated, wondering if an animal had stepped on the dry wood, but some sense told him an animal would have to be very large to accomplish that. He shielded the light from his eyes. “Anyone there? Do you need help?”

Silence greeted him.

He waited another few seconds, then continued on.

A loud thud froze him mid-stride and he turned toward the river. “Hello? Are you injured?”

This time a voice answered. It was downstream, closer to the bridge. “Not I, Mate, but you will be.”

McLaren held his torch out, moving the light over the area. “Sorry?”

“What are you, hard of hearing, McLaren?”

The voice was low, barely audible above the splashing river, yet McLaren had no trouble hearing it. Neither did he mistake the edge to the words. Or the speaker. Charlie Harvester.

McLaren’s heartbeat pounded in his throat. The man was standing in the dark wood, no torchlight illuminating his path. The conclusion was obvious. McLaren took a step forward, lowering the light. “Harvester. What do you want?”

A laugh answered him. “Good evening to you, too. I’m more convivial than you…which is just another example of your inferiority. But you asked what I want. All right, I’ll get to the crux of the matter. I want you dead.”

4 stars

This book is 10th in the series, and my second McLaren mystery. As with the 9th book, it works as a standalone, though there are slight references to previous books. However, it doesn’t affect the story.

I enjoyed returning to the world of Michael McLaren, who’s fast becoming one of my favorite detectives. Fresh off his latest success, he’s on to a new challenging mystery, one that hits a little close to home when a nemesis appears. Compared to Photo Shoot (book 9), this was even more of a wild ride. The twists and turns were constant, and the interplay between Michael and his nemesis kept me on the edge of my seat.

In addition, I have to mention the author’s descriptive writing style, which I love. Her writing brings everything in Michael’s world alive, down to the little details of a tiny pub, which enhances the story. All in all, if you’re looking for a good mystery with plenty of intrigue, I recommend giving this series a try.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

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 folk singing stint.  This intimate knowledge of Britain forms the backbone of both the Peak District mysteries and the McLaren cold case 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 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English.  She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.

Her cat Tennyson shares her St. Louis home.


  1. Thanks for the stop on the tour, and thanks for the lovely review.

  2. Replies
    1. Hi, Victoria. Yes, I think the review is great, too. Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with the raffle drawing.

  3. Thanks for the review!


  4. Thanks for sharing your book and I enjoyed getting to hear about it.

    1. James, thanks for commenting. Good luck with the raffle!

  5. Replies
    1. Hi, Victoria. Thanks. I appreciate you stopping by.

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks. I do, too. Probably one of my all time favorites.

  7. If you could write in another genre, what would you try?

  8. Did your story have an alternate ending you considered?