The Peak District Mystery Series

The Peak District Mysteries feature Detective-Sergeant Brenna Taylor and Detective-Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham of the Derbyshire Constabulary C.I.D.  Each book uses a British custom as the backbone of the plot.

A Staged Murder

ISBN-978-1544695150

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.

A Recipe for Murder

ISBN-978-0615858135

     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 candlelit church.  Someone is not living up to the seasonal wish of ‘peace on earth, good will towards man.’

     But the village harbors more than Christmas gifts, DS Brenna Taylor discovers as she and her colleagues from the Derbyshire Constabulary begin working the case.  There is the feud between two rival authors; a wife’s open disdain of her husband and his secret comfort in the arms of another woman; the pent-up emotions of a vicar’s wife forced to conform to idealistic conceptions; the tacit threat of a troubled teenager and his delinquent girlfriend.

     Brenna also discovers emotions she didn’t know she had when DS Mark Salt, her  macho cohort, makes overtures of genuine friendship.  Now Brenna must not only examine her love for her boss, DCI Geoffrey Graham, but also consider the likelihood of its ever being returned.

As if sorting through the affairs of the heart and the tangle of motive and suspects in the case weren’t hard enough, a series of arsons threatens the very village itself.  And Brenna wonders if they are looking for two felons or just one very disturbed individual.

In a Wintry Wood

ISBN-13:   978-1975990367 

     DS Brenna Taylor and DCI Geoffrey Graham are summoned to investigate a drowning in a wintry pond during a family 12th Night party.  The case quickly turns personal for the CID team, for one of their own detectives becomes prime suspect.  Brenna finds herself caught between the police investigation and her belief in DS Mark Salt’s innocence.  Yet 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, Mercedes. It’s easy to believe Mark’s guilt: he attracts women like Christmas presents entice kids.  As the investigation progresses, other ‘attractions’ in his past are revealed, and Mark’s guilt intensifies with each one.  Had he accidentally killed Mercedes to stop her from leaving the family business -- or was the motive personal, perhaps involving the woman with whom he had a brief, passionate affair ¾ the fiancée of Mercedes’ brother?  Now that Brenna finally views Mark as a human being, will she lose him if he’s charged with murder?

A Touch of Murder

ISBN-13: 978-1983751172

Tolling church bells are as much an aspect of rural England as are grazing sheep, thatched-roof cottages and verdant-hedged lanes.  But someone in this sleepy village evidently takes exception to one slice of Merrie Olde England, for Roger, Lord Swinbrook is found on Valentine’s Day in the bell tower of his estate -- frightfully dead and terribly unromantic…

     When a second murder occurs in the same place and under similar circumstances as the first, Brenna finds her own emotions threatening to erupt: there are her conflicting feelings toward her associate DS Mark Salt, her obsession to discover the identity of the woman her boss, DCI Geoffrey Graham, is dating, and her own mounting fear that Graham considers her merely a co-worker.  It takes the chilling close to the case, when Brenna’s life is in jeopardy, for Graham to reveal his private sentiments about her.

The Stone Hex

Things seem comfortably routine one Ash Wednesday evening in the English village of Hollingthorpe.  The regulars have come together to turn the Devil’s Stone, the age-old custom of shifting a one-ton boulder in the churchyard.  An odd, back-breaking custom that defies logic – except that to dispense with it always brings misfortune on the villagers during that year.  Yet within minutes of shifting the great boulder that evening, misfortune – or someone – does strike.  One of the participants lies beside the stone, very dead and very bloody.

     Detective-Sergeant Brenna Taylor and the CID team quickly become embroiled not only in the problems of the villagers but also in a web of deceit.

When a red rose is found near the crime scene and WPC MacMillan goes to the wood to investigate, she is attacked, left for dead, beaten in the same manner as the original murder.  Has she discovered something in the wood or close to the rose that identifies the killer?

     In the midst of the murder and missing child investigations Brenna steals a few precious moments with her new boyfriend and begins to wean her emotions from Graham.  But in a midnight, rain-lashed forest, a heart-wrenching episode with Graham threatens to destroy her resolve.  And through it all the killer silently slips into and out of their lives, thumbing his nose at her and the entire CID team, ready to strike again.

Searching Shadows

ISBN-9781793072559

The custom of Watching the Church Porch -- a sighting of a person’s spirit foreshadowing that person’s death within the year.  A villager saw a spirit that year, which was frightening, but not unusual.  But it is odd, because someone else dies.  And in circumstances leaving no doubt the death is murder -- by a human hand.

     The CID Team from the Derbyshire Constabulary begins sorting through motives and opportunities.  There is the minister, who is upset that her daughter has abandoned the church to put her faith in psychics -- could the minister have killed to bring her daughter back to the flock?  And the big-shot television producer.  Could he want the ghostly sighting proved true so his documentary on the subject draws a larger viewing audience -- and increases his status and salary?

     When Brenna is authorized to conduct a formal interview of a suspect she accepts the assignment eagerly, believing the Team is finally wrapping up the case.  But the questioning ends inconclusively, plunging Brenna into despair.  It isn’t until another death and a life is threatened that Brenna finally uncovers the ruthless murderer who's devastated so many families.

An Old Remedy

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 sacrificial sheep or chickens.  

     Detective-Sergeant Brenna Taylor, her boss, Detective-Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham, and other members of their Murder Team from the Derbyshire Constabulary are called in to investigate and soon a series of decapitated animals appears on the moor.  Is the sheep, the style of death or the location linked with the man’s murder?

     As fear over a second murder grips the villagers, Brenna struggles 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--cop and villager alike--connected with the moorland murders.

Shrouded In Yew

ISBN-978-1-60318-396-3

     One dark March evening Vera Howarth vanishes from her village.  Despite search teams, TV appeals and a police investigation, she is never found, and her disappearance transmutes into a local ghost story.

     That was 23 years ago.  Now Reed Harper, the organizer of the village well dressing custom, goes missing, and the incident is linked by speculation and fear to Vera’s.

Detective-Sergeant Brenna Taylor, her boss, Detective-Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham, and other members of their Murder Team from the Derbyshire Constabulary are called in to investigate when a handful of bones is discovered in the forest that hugs the village.  

     During the search, Reed’s body is found several feet from the skeletal remains.  Vera?  Were the two killed by the same person?  If not, why are the remains lying so close together?

     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

ISBN-978-1-60318-499-1

Each year the residents of Nether Haddon celebrate the village’s founding in the time-honored way--with games, music, and performances by their sword dancers. But something new is added to the fancy footwork this year: a team member dies ... murdered. The inquiry soon becomes as tightly interlocked as the five swords, or rappers, used in the dance, a series of complicated turns, jumps and clogging steps as intricate as Celtic knots. Group anger and jealousies explode during the investigation. Physical intimidation and implied extortion threaten to destroy the group and the dancers’ lives. While CID team investigate the murder, unbeknownst to Brenna, King Roper, a career criminal, has escaped from prison where he was serving time for murder. Now free and eager to settle the score for his capture, Roper tracks down Brenna’s whereabouts, ready for revenge...

The Corpse Road

ISBN-978-1-60318-491-5

They hadn’t expected to find a body among the fire’s debris. A young woman dies tragically in a church fire. The death might’ve been labeled an accident...but for the barred door. Identifying the victim isn’t easy, though, for two women have simultaneously gone missing from the village. And both women have generated a list of people who’d like to see either one dead.

     As the CID Team investigates, another body is discovered along a path leading to the church...an ancient corpse road that dates back to medieval times. Did the victim have a relationship with the two brothers who own the farmland on which she was found? Or did she have a connection to the fire victim and the village’s haystrewing custom? After all, competition for the best-decorated rushcart runs high, with a hefty monetary prize at stake; could jealousy and rivalry be motive for her death?

     While the Team struggles with escalating incidents, one dark night Living Evil calls to collect an old debt and threatens Graham’s and Brenna’s lives. When the Evil comes for Brenna’s husband, it’s up to her to rescue him. Can she capture an enemy from their past before all their lives become a deadly statistic strewn along the corpse road...and the Evil escapes to strike again?

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