An Unfolding Trap by Jo Hiestand

An Unfolding Trap by Jo Hiestand
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (290 PAGES)
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Rose

Since his infancy, Michael McLaren has been the target of his paternal grandfather’s anger. So when the patriarch sends an invitation to heal the rift, McLaren travels to Scotland, eager to meet and finally end the feud. But the welcome never happens. If Grandfather hadn’t invited him, who had? And why?

In Edinburgh, a man standing beside McLaren in a bus queue is killed in a hit-and-run accident. After an attack leaves McLaren for dead on a wintry moor, he’s convinced someone from his past is trying to murder him.

As McLaren trails the hit-and-run driver from the medieval ‘underground city’ of Edinburgh to the Boar’s Rock ⎯ the MacLaren Clan’s ancestral meeting place ⎯ the assaults intensify, and he’s plunged into a very personal hunt for a World War II treasure. The puzzle is fascinating; he just has to stay alive to solve it.

This is the 5th book in the McClaren Mystery series, but if you haven’t read the others, don’t let that stop you from picking this one up. It’s the first book in the series I’ve read, and I had absolutely no trouble with the book. There were some undercurrants among the characters that would probably be explained if I’d read the previous books, but the mystery itself resolved nicely. That being said, I’m definitely going to be picking up the other books in the series as I really enjoyed McLaren.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot of this book, to avoid spoilers—it is a mystery, after all, and you don’t want that spoiled. Suffice it to say Ms. Hiestand does a masterful job at solving the case which turns out to be a lot more complicated than it appeared on the surface.

I liked the main character—Michael McClaren is a former policeman turned private detective, but this time the mystery he’s solving is a lot more personal. He’s not perfect, but he is good at solving puzzles—this one is multi-faceted, but McClaren is definitely up for the job.  A solid entry in the mystery category!


  1. Good morning! Thanks for reviewing my book today!

  2. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

    • Hi, Peggy. Actually, I don’t know if it’s writer’s block or just confusion. There are instances during the first draft when I don’t know what the character will do, or what the scene should convey for the plot advancement. Luckily, this dilemma lasts only for a few hours. If I do something physical, like walking or vacuuming, I usually can think up the solution. But I’ve never been stuck for a major part of the book. I think if that ever happened I’d take it as a sign that I’d taken a terribly bad turn in the plot, or that the plot just wasn’t any good, and I’d go back to where the storyline began to fail and fix it, or I’d junk the whole thing.

  3. Thank you for hosting

  4. Amy Freedman says:

    Looks like a good read. Nice to know that I can pick the book up mid-series. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

    • Hi, Amy. Yes, you can pick up any McLaren mystery and I think you’d have no trouble at all with the characters. The same main ones occur in each book — McLaren, his friend Jamie, McLaren’s fiancee Dena, his former colleague Charlie Harvester… The only thing that really changes from book to book are the personal relationships, but that’s easy to sort out. There are histories to these relationships, as Rose stated in her book review, but you can catch those in the previous books. I doubt if not knowing would spoil your reading of any book. I hope you like “An Unfolding Trap” if you decide to read it — thank you!

  5. Kathy Allen says:

    I have loved the characters in your books…especially McLaren as you know. How did you develop him? Where did your idea come from? You’ll continue to “use him” won’t you?

    • I’ll write about McLaren as long as I’m able, Kathy…or until he’s not liked any more! My friend in England–a former head of the CID dept in the Derbyshire Constabulary, and a really smart man (has to be if he was head of CID)–and I exchanged weeks of emails, discussing McLaren’s personality, background, and how he should investigate. I think McLaren is half of my friend’s suggestions and half of mine. I also think McLaren turned out pretty darn good–and interesting bloke! 😉 Thanks for asking!

      • Kathy Allen says:

        Thanks for the answer. You can just keep him in your stories for as long as possible as far as I’m concerned. You can also write as fast as you can! Just teasing, but you know I love your books and I’m a pretty quick reader. Surely you can’t gripe about someone that just wants more books can ya?

        • I’d never gripe! I’ll either have to learn to write faster or you’ll have to learn to read slower! (grin) Three more books are slated for release this year, from March 9 for AN UNFOLDING TRAP, to first part of November. I love your enthusiasm, Kathy — never apologize!

  6. peggy clayton says:

    Would love to read!

    • Peggy…I’d be honored, believe me, if you read “An Unfolding Trap.” I really like this book — it sprang from a trip to Edinburgh one December. The medieval “underground city” was so fascinating that I knew I had to use it in a book…but I didn’t have a book in progress at that point. Also, the snowy moors and mountains captivated me, and I thought what a great scene I could write using them. So that’s how “An Unfolding Trap” unfolded! 😉 Nothing like a great trip to spark those mysterious ideas! Oh, the ebook is available for pre-order, I’m told. The trade paper edition comes out March 9. Thanks again!

  7. MaryAnn Forbes says:

    What a great review; just added this series to my TBR list.

  8. The story sounds very intriguing.

    • Hi, Rita. I hope you like it if you take the plunge! 😉 I had such fun writing it and bringing in those spots I spoke of in my reply to Peggy (above). My Scottish friend helped me with the layout of Edinburgh (even tho I had a street map and even tho I’d been there three times), and he helped with dialect and with beer. The clan chief of the MacLarens also answered dozens of emails about the layout of the village where he lives and where, subsequently, my McLaren goes to in the story. So the book’s really a group effort — tho I had the fun of thinking up the story and writing it! 😉

  9. Stephanie Grant says:

    Wow! This book sounds so awesome! What was the main inspiration that encouraged you to become an author in the first place? Did you always know you wanted to be an author?

    • Hi, Stephanie — sorry for the late response. For some reason, your message just appeared… I knew when I was around eleven or twelve that I wanted to be an author…it just took me a while to take the plunge and seriously apply myself. I loved to read as a kid (well, I still do love to read!) — my entire family read. That’s what we did in the evenings, read and watch a little TV. So I grew up in a house where reading at night was the norm. On Friday nights my dad would say “Who wants to go to the library?” and we’d all pile into the car and go to the library. I grew up reading the classics: Jane Eyre, Three Musketeers, The Moonstone… I read Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew stories and wanted to create something like that, a mystery in a mysterious world. Those books were my inspiration to try writing. But, as I said, life got in the way for a long time. But at least I finally decided to try, and here is McLaren, my proud product! BTW…I hope you like An Unfolding Trap if you read it. Ebook is available now for pre-order; trade paper comes out in about two weeks or less! Personally, I like a real book…there’s just something about holding it in my hand, the feel of the pages and cover, seeing it “real” and turning the pages. Anyway, thanks for the comment! Hope I haven’t put you to sleep by now! 😉

  10. Look forward to reading this. My order is in!!

  11. Linda Moffitt says:

    Looks like a really good book thanks for the giveaway

    • Hi, Linda. I’m rather partial to the book, ha ha! 😉 I confess part of my own attraction to it is the setting — I love Scotland. It’s a nice break from the usual setting of Derbyshire, England, where McLaren lives and works and gets into investigating cold cases for people. I hope you like An Unfolding Trap if you decide to read it. And good luck on winning the raffle!

  12. I’ll sign off for tonight…beauty sleep, you know. ‘-) Thanks to Rose for the super review, thanks to my hosts at Long and Short Reviews, and thank you to everyone who logged on and left a comment. Hope to hear from you next Tuesday at another review site. Night!

  13. Linda Moffitt says:

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