McLaren Mysteries

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The mystery novels and companion CDs...

The 8th McLaren book:

coming November 6, 2017

The form seemed to slide from the shadows of the half-light with the ease of a wraith floating across the landscape. He kept his ground as the car skidded to a stop barely a yard from him, as though he knew McLaren wouldn’t harm him.

From this introduction to the village of Moorton and its residents, ex-police detective Michael McLaren is thrust into the mystery of a young musician’s murder.

He settles into a bed-and- breakfast and quickly becomes friends with Lily, the victim’s fiancée, and her mother, who implore him to investigate the death.

He’s hesitant; he’s there to escape  his own fiancee’s death.  But he agrees to help.

The Lake District parish seems peaceful, but a rival  musician’s jealousy and a business partner’s anger boil beneath the façade.  Mix that with ‘Barmy Barry’s’ sightings of fairy lights  at the castle, references to Uther Pendragon’s return and the secrets in the woods, and McLaren finds his sanity shaky.

When the vicar is attacked and Barry disappears, McLaren sets a trap for the killer.  But as it plays out, his concern shifts from the potential capture to praying he and his friend can escape with their lives.

It is a set of four character pieces composed for two pianos.  The pieces--'The Laurels', 'Lily's Song', 'The Fairies', and 'All Clear'--describe different characters, settings, and images in the book ARRESTED FLIGHT.  Musical quotations from Classical repertoire and traditional folk styles are used throughout. 

 McLaren arrives at The Laurels Bed and Breakfast and hears a Liszt prelude after an odd encounter with a strange man claiming to see fairies (1st piece).  The second movement is a musical interpretation of what fairies must be like, followed by a bittersweet song for Lily (3rd piece). The final movement is based on a repeated pattern from Morse Code that  builds to a big conclusion.  The first and 4th pieces include quotes of both Celtic folk tunes and classical pieces (Liszt in the first piece and Debussy in the fourth piece). The third piece quotes the hymn tune 'Evan'.  There is no quotation in 'The Fairies', the second piece; it is a strict formal construction based on a symmetrical scale.  It is still programmatic, but more is left to the imagination of the listener,

This composition was written by Robert Chamberlin and featured in concert (world premier) at Webster University on November 2017.  The pianists are Pat Eastman and Donna Vince.

The book ($14.95) and its companion CD ($4.00) are available for purchase individually at the author’s website:

The 7th McLaren book:

Available now!

McLaren gives in to Jamie's suggestion to retreat to Windermere, Cumbria in order to heal after Dena's death.  While there, McLaren becomes acquainted with his next-door neighbor when he helps her with a few odd jobs.  But he soon becomes the prime suspect in her death and finds himself sinking deeper into the tangle of her murder.

     The late night arson of his cabin and personal attacks nearly kill him.  The ferocity of the attacks is unlike anything he's known, and he wonders if the attacker's mistaken him for someone else.  The missing puzzle piece slips into place during a desperate race against Time and Tide...a race he's determined to win.

The novel’s companion song is “The Flowers of the Forest,” a traditional Scottish folk song.  It's a lament for the army of James IV, slain with their king on the field of Flodden, September 1513. This song began as a piece of an old ballad. Mrs. Patrick Cockburn of Ormiston fleshed out this fragment, creating a full song. In the mid 18th century Miss Jane Elliot, daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto, Lord Chief Justice Clerk of Scotland, created the song as known today by using Mrs. Cockburn’s work.
I thought the song fitting for McLaren’s own lament in this story, so I contacted Ian McCalman, of the famous Scottish folkgroup The McCalmans, about it. I had heard the Macs’ rendition of the song on their 1975 Smuggler album. The song’s stayed with me ever since, hauntingly beautiful and poignant.  Ian McCalman and Hamish Bain (two of the three original Macs) and newer member Stephen Quigg recreate it here, exclusively for us.  Martin Talbot, formerly with the rock group Kiss of the Gypsy, is a very well-known bass player and is an old friend of The McCalmans. Ian says he jumped at the chance of being involved in reviving this old classic. I hope you love it as much as I do. 

Listen to a snippet of the song here:

The book ($14.95) and its companion CD ($4.00) are available for purchase individually at the author’s website.
Purchase book thru Amazon:
Purchase CD:

The 6th McLaren book:


One cold January evening Luke Barber disappears from his village.  Despite search teams and a police investigation, he is never found, and his absence leaves a lot of holes in people’s lives.

     That was three years ago.  Now Luke’s father has employed ex-police detective Michael McLaren to find Luke, for even knowing that Luke is dead is better than holding out the faint hope that he has merely run away.  And he may have had many reasons to...

     Pressure from his tennis coach and doubles partner, as well as his music teacher and singing partner, would probably be enough stress for any young man. But add to that his father’s opinion he should work the family farm and his future mother-in-law’s vocal view he should stay home, get a sensible job and support her daughter…well, it all may have proved too much for Luke to handle.

     It isn’t until McLaren figures out a connection with a medieval stone carving and a local legend that he discovers what became of Luke…and leads him to someone he dearly loves.

The novel’s companion song is “Did You Not Hear My Lady,” which is a Handel aria from his opera Tolomeo.  It’s been recorded many times throughout the years. 

This version features Connor Scott, baritone, and Gabe Maichel, piano. 

Sample Track
Conner Scott & Gabe Maichel (Did you not hear my lady?)
The book ($14.95) and its companion CD ($4.00) are available for purchase individually at the author’s website:

The 5th McLaren book:


Dreams woke him that night. Not nightmares. Not exactly. More like flashes from his past. Mingled, as happens through the power of dreams, with foreshadowing of the future. Except he didn’t know that yet…

     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. In fact, the older man is furious McLaren’s appeared on the family home doorstep, convinced it’s some trick.  McLaren, however, is confused:  if the grandfather hadn’t sent for him, who had?  And why? In Edinburgh, a man standing beside McLaren in a bus queue is killed in a hit-and-run accident. But McLaren wonders if the driver got the wrong person. And after an attack leaves him for dead on a wintry moor, McLaren’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.
Music for AN UNFOLDNG TRAP is the Scottish folk song "The Braes of Balquhidder." 

It is performed here as a traditional jazz version by Gabe Maichel, piano; Kevin Cheli, drums; and Nathan Pence, upright bass.

Sample Track
Kevin Cheli, Gabe Maichel and Nathan Pence (The Braes of Balquhidder)
The book ($14.95) and its companion CD ($4.00) are available for purchase individually at the author’s website:

he 4th McLaren Book:


“Why would anyone hide a brooch in a brick wall?”

University art student Amy Jarvis died one year ago in a murder that shocked the area.  Although John Pooley had been detained by the police, they’d released him on insufficient evidence.  Which didn’t stop public opinion from mentally trying and symbolically hanging John.  When he conveniently died, the case seemed to die with him.  Except that the local radio shock jock stirred the cold case embers to inflame citizen outrage on the one year anniversary of Amy’s death.  And he again played the song mocking John, the song calling for a hit to be made on the ‘released murderer,’ the song that the DJ made into a hit.

     When McLaren realizes the brooch’s significance he closes in on the murderer.  But the killer has other ideas and flees.  As McLaren follows the twisting trail of the killer, he hopes it doesn’t end in a different type of hit — his own planned murder.

"Your Parting Glass" is a Scottish folk song.  This version features Hannah Satterwhite, vocals, and Nick Pence, vocals and guitar.

Lyrics by Jo A. Hiestand, traditional tune.
Sample Track
Hannah Satterwhite and Nick Pence (Your Parting Glass)
The book ($15.95) and its companion CD ($4.00) are available for purchase individually at the author’s website:

The 3rd McLaren book:


“Do you know what it’s like to lose a child to murder?”

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.

During McLaren’s investigation, motives for Janet’s murder seep to the surface like smoky tendrils of a fire.  There’s her ex-band member, the fired employee in her catering company, the former fiancé who might still hold a torch for Janet, the angry client seeking revenge for the catering fiasco at her daughter’s wedding.  Not to mention jealousy from other caterers and singers. 

Can McLaren solve the cold case while Nora is still able to comprehend the resolution and die in peace, or does Harvester have plans that will see the cold case and McLaren’s career go up in smoke?

"Never Leave My Side", a 1940s-style torch song, is performed by Lola Hennicke Toben, vocals and piano; Bryan Toben, drums; Mark Wallace, bass.

Lyrics by Jo A. Hiestand; music by Lola Hennicke Toben
Sample Track
Lola Hennicke Toben (Never Leave My Side)
The book ($14.95) and its companion CD ($4.00) are available for purchase individually at the author’s website:

The 2nd McLaren book:


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 his fiancée dangles the intriguing aspects of the unsolved murder of local folk musician Kent Harrison before McLaren, 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.
     Determined to present him with an absorbing case, Dena plays detective to scrape up some motivating details. The more detailed story that she can tell McLaren, the better the chance of getting him involved, she believes. Not only to bring him back into her life but also to eradicate the depression and anger still clinging to him-anger from the great injustice that caused him to leave the police force last year. But Dena's sleuthing goes awry when she is kidnapped. Has she talked to a person who fears McLaren is closing in on him? Now McLaren must not only solve Kent's murder but also find Dena, a hard task when a web of jealousy, anger and lies permeates both cases.

"The Swans' Song" is a traditional English folk song.  This version is performed by
Lola Hennicke Toben, vocals; Bryan Toben, vocals and guitar.

Lyrics by Jo A. Hiestand; traditional English tune
Sample Track "Swans' Song"
Bryan Toben & Lola Hennicke (The Swans' Song)

The book ($14.95) and its companion CD ($4.00) are available for purchase individually at the author’s website:

The 1st McLaren book:


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. Co-workers, friends, neighbors and even Marta’s husband all seem to have reasons for wanting her death -- reasons as varied as revenge for her damning silence to imagined infidelity. Anger and motives overlap and raise more questions than McLaren can answer.
       In the midst of his investigation McLaren becomes entangled in his own mystery: anonymous late-night phone calls, a vanished hitchhiker, and a car crash threaten his life and sanity. Is Dena, his former fiancée, playing tricks on him, still angry over their broken engagement? Or does the killer fear McLaren’s relentless law-skirting pursuit? 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.

"Cold, Haily, Rainy Night" is a traditional English folk song. 

It is performed here by the Thin Dimes, a blues/folk group: Nick Pence, Hannah Satterwhite, Paul Rhodes, Nathan Pence, and Kevin Cheli.

Sample Track
Nick Pence, Hannah Satterwhite, Paul Rhodes, Nathan Pence and Kevin Cheli (Cold, Haily, Rainy Night)

The book ($15.95) and its companion CD ($4.00) are available for purchase individually at the author’s website: