Brenna Taylor is 35, single, and a Police detective in the Derbyshire Constabulary. She’s professional on the outside, a little insecure on the inside; she’s intuitive, quick-witted and struggling with the low self esteem brought on by her parents’ low regard for her as a Person and for her Profession. Brenna is intimidated by her boss, model-handsome and tall 41-year-old Detective-Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham. He joined the police after a career as a minister and his subordinates joke about it behind his back. He is brilliant, rather quiet, but shows a good sense of humor once he is relaxed. He was engaged but his fiancée broke it off, so he is hesitant to get involved with another woman. He also has no idea Brenna loves him. Margo Lynch, 26, is single and has lived through the broken heart of her boy friend going to Australia. Brenna refers to Margo as her "diary," a compliment, for Brenna can confess anything to Margo without fear of ridicule or scathing criticism. Margo has no real ambitions to make police work her life's work; as soon as she gets married she wants to leave the job. Mark Salt is in his mid thirties. Rather than his gray hair and eyes making him look older, Brenna finds him handsome and mature looking. That maturity wasn't apparent, though, when they attended police school together, or even in the years immediately following. Mark referred to Brenna (the only woman in their otherwise all-male class) as Top Cop, a mocking reference to her desire to become an outstanding officer. Now TC has translated into an endearing nickname for Brenna and Mark has also become a dear friend, also maturing into a caring, sober individual.
Michael McLaren is 38 and an ex-cop who quit his job over a terrible injustice done to his friend. Now a year later in the first book, McLaren’s a lonely, bitter man mending dry stonewalls in Derbyshire. He’s shut out his family, most of his friends, and his fiancée. When he eventually is lured back to investigate a cold case of murder he is now free of the shackles of proper police procedure. He skirts the law and gets results in unorthodox ways. He will end up fighting through his emotional problems, avenging his friend, and marrying his fiancée. Dena Ellison is a lover of classics -- from cars and clothes to fine dining. She sticks by McLaren's side during the year of his hermit-like seclusion. She feels the pain and anger of the injustice done to him and she wants to help, yet the frustration of being shut out of his life threatens her resolve. She volunteers at an animal rescue facility and carries her passion for helping over to McLaren. Police Detective-Constable Jamie Kydd is McLaren's closest friend. Still in the job in the Derbyshire constabulary, Jamie helps McLaren by providing information that isn't, strictly speaking, supposed to be public knowledge. But friendship means more to Jamie than following rules -- he just hopes he doesn't get caught! Afterall, blood is thicker than water...or beer, which Jamie likes to share with McLaren, and the blood of the police brotherhood runs soberly in Jamie's veins. Jamie is married to Paula and lives in Castleton, the small Hope Valley village near McLaren's home in Somerley.
Death of an Ordinary Guy -- 1st in the series; ISBN 1-59133-060-2
The village square is bathed in torchlight. Spectators huddle against the cold this Guy Fawkes Night. Shadows grip the edge of the square, but all eyes focus on the straw effigy of Guy Fawkes, the symbol of the governmental coup-gone-wrong. The flaming torch extends to light the straw -- and the villagers recoil in horror. Twisting at the end of the rope is the corpse of an American tourist.
Sainted Murder -- 2nd in the series; ISBN 1-59133-132-3
December bullies its way into the village in a swirl of snow and biting wind, threatening to cancel the annual St. Nicholas festival. But winter’s slap pales when a body is discovered in the holly-festooned church, and a series of arsons threatens the very village itself. Someone is not living up to the seasonal wish of‘ good will towards man.’
On the Twelfth Night of Christmas -- 3rd in the series; ISBN 1-59133-138-2
DS Brenna Taylor and DCI Geoffrey Graham are summoned to investigate a drowning in a wintry pond during a family 12th night party. As bizarre as the case seems, it quickly becomes personal for the CID team, for one of their own detectives becomes the prime suspect of the murder. Brenna finds herself caught between police investigation and her belief in DS Mark Salt’s innocence. But even her faith is strained when Mark’s parody of “The 12 Days of Christmas” hints that he was having an affair with his murdered sister-in-law. Now that Brenna is finally viewing Mark as a human being, will he be brought up for murder?
Pearls Before Swine -- 4th in the series; ISBN 1-59133-178-1
What woman wouldn’t want a pearl necklace for a Valentine’s Day gift? Geneva, Lady Swinbrook, when it’s offered on the chest of her dead husband. That’s just one peculiarity in the case that confronts the CID team from the Derbyshire Constabulary. There’s the retired couple who hate Lord Swinbrook’s bell ringing; the husband of Lord S’s maid who hates the peerage and their wealth; Lord S’s younger brother who has a penchant for needing vast sums of money. Even DS Brenna Taylor is up against a peculiarity of her own when she becomes obsessed with discovering the identity of DCI Graham’s Valentine’s Day date. But this suddenly seems inconsequential when her life is in jeopardy and she stands to lose more than Graham’s love.
Horns of a Dilemma -- 5th in the series; ISBN 1-59133-205-2
A bizarre beating death compels the Derbyshire CID team to investigate a village’s custom of Turning the Devil’s Stone.
As Brenna and Graham delve into the case, another attack occurs -- this time on a female police officer, and the villagers begin to believe the devil himself is involved. Especially when one of the villagers claims the devil talked to him and wants him to come to the churchyard. But is this just an act to divert suspicion from him, or does devilry really exist in the village?
The Coffin Watchers -- 6th in the series, ISBN 1-59133-265-6
The CID Team find themselves in a spirited case that begins with the stabbing death of a woman involved with Watching the Church Porch. The investigation quickly turns bizarre when they discover she was a psychic. Perhaps not a very good one, or she would have forecast her own death. On top of that, her spirit wasn’t the one seen during the church porch watch. And the villager whose coffin-carrying ghost was seen seems quite unconcerned about her future, despite her friend’s demise. Is it because she killed the psychic -- or knows who did? Perhaps of greater concern to the CID Team: is the killer blood, flesh and bone, or an astral apparition?
A Terrible Enemy -- 7th in the series, ISBN 978-1-59133-290-9
Year after year, the villagers near Stanton Moor celebrate May Day with bonfires and the laying of rowan branches to seek protection for home and cattle. But the men who gathered this May evening hadn’t come for blessings. They had come for murder. The dead body is discovered on a lonely moor, decapitated in the fashion of a Muslim killing of sacrificial sheep or chickens. As fear over a second murder grips the villagers, the CID Team soon discovers this dead man may have had connections with an organization that smuggles illegal products into Britain. Through the tangle of smugglers, murder, and village secrets, Brenna fights to keep focused on the case and nab the one person who may be responsible for the trail of villainy that threatens to engulf everyone who is connected with the moorland murders.
A Well Dressed Corpse -- 8th in the series, ISBN 978-1-60318-306-3
Vera Howarth’s disappearance caused a brief ripple of gossip and a lingering uneasiness in her village. Now, twenty-three years later, Reed Harper, a smooth-talking womanizer in charge of the village fete, has gone missing. When his body is discovered in the forest, buried near Vera’s corpse, finger pointing at the local bobby is renewed with all the fervor of a lynch mob. Events turn alarming when the police learn that another villager who was involved with Reed committed suicide the previous year. But it’s about the only thing in this tangle of jealousy, lies and false identities that is obvious. That, and the link to regional ghost stories -- but is that a coincidence or a deliberate effort to frighten someone? As the police team investigates they discover a tangle of jealousy, betrayal and lies, all involving Reed and Vera. And harking back to the ghost stories of the region.
False Step -- 9th in the series,
Siren Song -- 1st in the series; ISBN 978-1-60318-232-4
The siren song of an unsolved murder case beckons an ex-cop back into detective work -- this time on his own, and with life-threatening consequences…. Michael McLaren tries to convince himself that he is perfectly happy repairing dry stonewalls in Derbyshire, a make-do career after resigning his job in an eddy of anger, disgust and an overwhelming sense of injustice. But when a murder victim’s friend asks him to investigate a cold case, McLaren agrees, the chance to rectify a wrong and return to the work he loves too heady to ignore. Marta Hughes, the murder victim, never returned home from a local casino where she won a purse-choking sum of money. Her body turned up ten days later and turned up the heat on the police investigation, but the time-lapse, lack of witnesses, and an untraceable bullet quickly turned the case cold. Now, one year later, McLaren sifts through the web of lies and veiled motives as impenetrable as boulders. But it isn’t until McLaren unravels his personal puzzles that he discovers Marta’s killer, a killer obsessed with old anger and new revenge.
Swan Song -- 2nd in the series; ISBN 978-1-60318-308-6
Ex-police detective Michael McLaren had no intention of delving into another cold case of murder. And certainly had no intention of making his inquiries a new career. But when he's presented with the intriguing aspects of the unsolved murder of local folk musician Kent Harrison, he snaps at the bait. A popular music teacher at Grange Hall Performing Arts College, Kent Harrison had been, perhaps, more popular as a musician -- a minstrel in the vein of 16th and 17th century troubadours. Though singing periodically with Dave Morley, a music shop clerk dying to make his name, money, and the big time, Kent usually appeared as a solo act. Especially during the Minstrels Court, an 8-day medieval event at Tutbury Castle. It was at that event that Kent, albeit unknowingly, last appeared and gave his swan song to his fans. But someone near and dear to him takes on a bit of sleuthing that awry, plunging the person into great danger. Now McLaren must not only solve Kent’s murder but also rescue his loved one -- a hard task when a web of jealousy, anger and lies permeates both cases.
Torch Song -- 3rd in the series; ISBN 978-1-60318-421-2An up-and-coming singer of 1940s-style torch songs, Janet Ennis tragically died five years ago in what the police labeled an accidental fire. But Janet’s mother, Nora, believes it to be murder and arson. And she’s hoping ex-cop Michael McLaren can prove it quickly, for she’s losing her memory to dementia. As McLaren pokes through the case details, he becomes emotionally involved with the dead woman, succumbing to the spell of her singing and her beauty. Yet, Janet Ennis isn’t the only person from the past who threatens his peace and sanity. A series of arsons on his own property hint that he’s upset someone connected with this case, someone capable of harming him and his fiancée, Dena Ellison. And one dark night another danger confronts McLaren: the nemesis from his personal past, Charlie Harvester. The man he tangled with, the man who was responsible for McLaren leaving his police job. Can McLaren solve the cold case while Nora is still able to comprehend the facts and die in peace, or does Harvester have other plans that will stop McLaren in his tracks?