IMG_7172 (2)
Author Interview, Character Traits

Meet Violet Whitehouse of A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide

Jessica Thompson’s novels are an interesting mix of murder and cooking. A fellow darkstroke books author, she has released two: A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder and A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide. And key to her culinary cozy mysteries is the character Violet Whitehouse. Here, I will let Jessica tell you about her in what I call my Character Traits series.

SONY DSC

JESSICA THOMPSONViolet Whitehouse. Here I will let Jessica tell you about her — and her books — in what I call my Character Traits series.

Who is your character?

Violet Whitehouse, newish bride, struggling caterer, and neat freak that hates being called a neat freak.

What does she look like?

Like a younger Jennifer Connelly. Think of her at about 25 years old or in the movie Inventing the Abbotts.

What is your character’s back story?

It hasn’t come up in a book yet, but she used to be that little kid that was always dirty. She didn’t avoid dirt because she didn’t care, until she got a staph infection at about ten years old. For the week or so that Violet was in the hospital, she learned to appreciate good food (and not the hospital food) and clean conditions. She has been learning to cook and avoiding dirt and chaos ever since.

What is your character’s role in your novel?

Violet is the main character. In this book she is acting as a personal chef for a group of ladies on a pre-holiday retreat, but usually she is a caterer for events big and small. She is also recruited to investigate the murder that happens because they are snowed in and the police won’t be able to get to them for days.

Why should readers care about this character?

I think I care about her because she cares about things so much. She wants things to be clean and she wants to make it a perfect retreat for her clients. She loves her husband and so wants to become a mom. She puts so much care into the food, into cleaning, and into this murder investigation.

Here’s an excerpt featuring.

“Watch the knives!” Jake winced and lunged forward, but he was too late.

Violet’s whole body was already tense from the cold weather and the long trip, but her muscles clenched into paralysis as she heard her bag of tools tip and clatter to the ground.

She shifted the box she had just taken out of the back of their rental van and swept aside her curtain of chestnut hair with her free hand. She forced her green eyes open, steeling herself to look down. The kitchen tools she had brought with her on this trip, the ones she couldn’t live without, lay scattered over the packed and soiled snow of the lodge’s parking area.

Violet’s skin crawled and her scalp tingled as she thought of the dirt, engine oil, and even traces of animal poop that were probably on her tools now.

As Jake, her husband and fellow caterer, took the box from her arms, Violet attempted a return to sanity with a deep breath and a look around at the glittering scenery. Other than the parking lot, clean, fresh snow covered the landscape and swept all the way up to the frozen pond and brightly lit windows of Summerhaven Lodge. The mounded snow shone coral in the waning evening light and eased her jangled nerves. She noticed tiny hopping footprints from a rabbit near the tree line and got close to smiling. The air was still and biting and she wrapped her favorite white scarf more tightly under her chin to keep it out. The scarf was a thick wool and didn’t get enough use back home in Austin, Texas.

This week would be a welcome break for all of them. Violet and Jake had been so tense the last few months that they had eagerly accepted the request to travel to another state and cook the entire week before Christmas for Carina Moretti, the mother of their friend Laurel. Laurel had spoken so highly of Violet’s cooking, and maybe a bit about her sleuthing, during her wedding last year that most of Violet’s clients these days wanted to hear the story while they tasted her creations.

Jessica Thompson’s bio

When Jessica discovered mystery novels with recipes, she knew she had found her niche.

Now Jessica is the author of the Amazon best-selling culinary cozy mysteries “A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide.” She is active in her local writing community and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas and the Storymakers Guild. She received a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University but has always enjoyed writing and reading mysteries.

As an avid home chef and food science geek, Jessica has won cooking competitions and been featured in the online Taste of Home recipe collection.  She also tends to be the go-to source for recipes, taste-testing, and food advice among her peers.

Jessica is originally from California, but now has adopted the Austin, Texas lifestyle. She enjoys living in the suburbs with her husband and young children, but also enjoys helping her parents with their nearby longhorn cattle ranch.

A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide synopsis

While acting as personal chef for a friend’s mountain retreat, Violet and her husband, Jake, must set aside their stress over infertility and create a magical and delicious holiday – until tragedy crashes the party.

Being snowed in and unreachable from town, Violet and Jake end up hired for a different kind of job – finding out which of the guests committed murder and why they’re trying to frame their hostess.

Violet must find a balance between following her gut and keeping it all under control until the police can reach them, while still managing the kitchen. But can she sniff out the killer before anyone else bites the big one?

A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide will give you a culinary holiday you won’t forget!

Another excerpt

Violet was furious with herself for not seeing it before. Her gut had led her in all the wrong directions. Mercedes had been the one to rebelliously go outside, and apparently it had not been an isolated incident.

It made Violet fume. How many times has Mercedes come outside? she thought. She was angry with Mercedes, but mostly she was kicking herself. Why had she thought that trusting her instincts would be a good idea? Her gut had definitely not done her any favors last time she had investigated a murder. She was mad at herself for not seeing it all, mad for ignoring Mercedes’ trips outside, and mad for looking past the woman just because she had made hot chocolate and been kind to her. All of that must have been an act. She must have been doing it to manipulate people. Perhaps the real Mercedes was the one that had erupted out during her argument with Carina.

The rage and the glowing fury that had shown in Mercedes’ face during that argument should have been a dead giveaway.

Violet followed the smell of cigarette smoke that lingered in the chilled air and mingled with the clouds of her breath. Cigarettes usually made Violet’s skin crawl, but she was too indignant to care now.

Violet caught a glimpse of a cloud of breath coming from behind the tool shed that formed one wall of the carport and crunched over the refrozen snow of the parking lot.

“Yes, sir. I’ll put you on speakerphone so you can hear, but it’s usually best to let Violet talk. She really has a way of getting these ladies to talk.”

Violet didn’t hear any of it. The blood was rushing through her ears as she whipped around the corner of the shed to find Mercedes huddled behind it.

Mercedes had been bent over, but now rose with terror in her eyes as Violet felt her face contort with disgust.

“It was you!”

Book links

http://mybook.to/catererholiday

http://mybook.to/caterersguide

Social media:

http://Jessicathompsonauthor.com

https://instagram.com/jessicathauthor/

https://facebook.com/jessicathauthor/

https://twitter.com/jessicathauthor/

https://pinterest.com/jessicathauthor/

http://goodreads.com/jessicathauthor/

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jessica-thompson-ede71ffc-5762-4778-a116-3c3a048cb45f

http://amazon.com/author/jessicathompsonmystery

https://tiktok.com/@jessicathauthor

 

http://amazon.com/author/jessicathompsonmystery

Standard
IMG_4079
characters, Isabel Long Mystery Series

Meet a New Character in Working the Beat

A new mystery for Isabel Long often means meeting a person who wants her to solve one. And for me, that means creating a new character. That happened in the second and fourth books, and now on Working the Beat, no. 5 in my Isabel Long Mystery Series.

(In the first book, Chasing the Case, Isabel decided to pursue a cold case that was her first big story TDKV4932as a rookie reporter 28 years earlier. In the third, Checking the Traps, she gets to know one character from the second better.)

Let me tell you about Shirley Dawson, who hires Isabel for her for her fifth case. As I’ve explained before, writing for me is telepathic. Yes, that sounds nuts. But I sit at my laptop and the story just comes as I type. That includes my characters, such as Shirley, who just pop inside of my brain and became very real for me, and I hope for my readers.

Before I proceed with this topic, I will say Shirley is not based on anybody. Sometimes people who know me like to guess who a character really is. Nice try, but none of what I write is true.

The first thing is to show my readers what Shirley looks like. I do that right off the bat when she approaches Isabel and her mother, Maria, who are taking in the local action at the Titus Country Fair. Shirley taps Isabel on the shoulder. 

I turn around to face a woman, actually I’m looking down because she only comes up to my shoulders. I don’t believe she’s as old as my mother, but she’s up there, with white hair cut short and lines on her tanned skin that make me believe she works outside a lot and is a heavy smoker, which I verify when I get closer. Her clothes are a standard-issue baggy flannel shirt hanging over jeans that are faded at the knees from work.

What else can I tell you about Shirley? She hasn’t had an easy life. She had a no-good husband who beat her and their two kids. He died thankfully but not before making their lives miserable. One kid took off and the other sought a better life. So raising Lucas, who was abandoned by his drug-addicted mother, brought joy in her life.

I wanted to create a character who’s a bit on the scratchy side. She drives school bus. Inherited a lot of land. She’s hard of hearing likely from getting knocked around, which Isabel figures out right away. She’s also a hoarder which Isabel and her mother learn when they visit her.

Shirley says she’s heard how Isabel helped other people. Now she wants her to do the same.

And Isabel finds out later that she met Shirley at her former newspaper office when she came seeking answers about her grandson’s death. Isabel couldn’t help her as a journalist but maybe she can as a private investigator.

Once again, Isabel — and I — are suckers for a hard-luck story. Here, I will let Shirley tell you herself.

Shirley stays sitting when she sees us approach. I make our introductions, and then we take the seats opposite her at the picnic table. I make sure I’m in Shirley’s direct line of vision in case she reads lips.

“So, what did you want to talk about?” I ask.

Shirley works her mouth a bit.

“It’s about my grandson, Lucas. Lucas Page is his full name. He was killed here four years ago and whoever did it didn’t get caught.” 

“Here in Titus?”

She gives her head a shake. 

“I mean here at the fair. It was after the demolition derby, the first one they had. They found Lucas’s body the next morning behind where everybody watches, in the woods up there. They said he must’ve been drunk and fell down in the rocks. His head was hit real bad I was told.”

“What was he doing on the hill afterward? Was he alone?” 

“That’s what I want you to find out.”

 This story’s coming back to me now. I was the editor of the Daily Star then. We reported on an unattended death at the fair in a story that made the front page, and then like Shirley said, it was ruled an accident because of a brain injury, although she protested that in a story we ran, too.

“Now, I remember you, Shirley. You came to see me in the newsroom. You said you were frustrated the police didn’t seem to be looking that hard into your grandson’s case and you wanted us to do that.”

I think back and hope I treated this woman nicely. 

“Yeah, I did. You said newspapers don’t do that kind of work.”

 “No, not the one I worked for.”

 “But I heard about what you’ve been doin’ now as a private investigator. Your last case was a doozy. Read about it in the paper.” She crooks a thumb toward Annette and her son, still talking with his admirers. “Course, there was Chet Waters. Maybe you can do what the cops couldn’t or wouldn’t do.”

 “You mean find out what happened that night with your grandson.”

 “Yeah. I heard you get paid for doin’ this. I wanna hear how much. I ain’t got a lot. But this is important to me. I loved my grandson. I’m the one who brought him up after his mother gave him to me. He was hangin’ around with a rough crowd in those days. Tryin’ to fit in. Here. Let me show you his picture.”

 Shirley reaches for the purse on the seat beside her. The purse is vintage style, off white with a smart clasp on the top, no zippers, something my mother would use. I am guessing Shirley holds onto things. She removes a photo from her wallet and hands it to me.

 “I took it at Christmas, the last one we had,” she says.

 Lucas Page’s face smiles at me. He’s young, blue-eyed, and with the kind of features that would label him a good-looking guy. His most distinctive is the red hair that’s short on the sides and long enough on the top so it has a bit of curl. But back to that smile. He was happy to pose for his grandmother.

 “He was a handsome young man,” I tell Shirley.

 She swipes away a tear.

 “Yeah, he was.”

 Want to read more? Working the Beat will officially be out Jan. 27, 2022. Kindle users can pre-order now and it will magically appear in your device on that day. Paperback readers, stay tuned.

Thanks for your support. Heres the link: mybook.to/workingthebeat

ABOUT  THE PHOTO ABOVE: Taken at the Cummington Fair, the inspiration for the fair in Working the Beat.

 

Standard
IMG_4068
Isabel Long Mystery Series

Smashin’ and Crashin’ in Working the Beat

It was my friend, Victor who gave me the idea to have someone die at a demotion derby in one of my books. His suggestion was that a body would be found after the event ended and the crowd cleared. He mentioned this after I had actually attended a derby at a country fair a few years ago. Me a derby fan? Hardly. But I saw it as an opportunity, like I did as a reporter a long time ago, to soak in the local color.

The idea for a death at a derby stuck with me as I went onto writing other books in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. And when it was time to start no. 5 Working the Beat, I took another approach. Unless the person died quietly of a heart attack or a drug overdose, it was unlikely that nobody TDKV4932would have noticed in that crowd of people. It had to happen another way and be tied to some sort of crime. So, that’s what I developed. Lucas Page’s body was found the next day and allegedly nobody saw how it ended up in a ravine.

His death is why his grandmother approaches Isabel Long at the Titus Country Fair. And good timing because the fair’s demolition derby is being held that night. Isabel was already planning to go with Jack, the owner of the Rooster Bar where she works parttime and her love interest. He’s even closing his bar on a Saturday night because of it.

I had fun writing about a demolition derby in a chapter called “Smashin’ and Crashin’.” For that chapter, I used my experience being at one and a little online research — plenty of videos on YouTube I might add.

Plus I throw in the rivalry between two characters in the series: Annette Waters and Gary Beaumont. Annette aka the Tough Cookie is a mechanic who runs a garage and junkyard. She hired Isabel in Redneck’s Revenge to prove her father’s death wasn’t an accident, that he was too drunk to get out of his burning shack of a home. Gary, a bad boy drug dealer who was a suspect in the same book, hired her in the third, Checking the Traps. I love these characters too much to let them go, especially since there’s a history between the two.

The demolition derby in Working the Beat is an opportunity for an interesting showdown.

So I gave Annette’s car the name Wild Woman. Gary’s is Bad Ol’ Boys because initially his brother, Larry was going to drive.

In this clip, Isabel is sitting on a blanket on a hill with Jack’s buddies, many of them customers at the Rooster, and his cousin, Fred aka el Creepo. I let them explain to Isabel, who is not a local gal, how it works like why the cars drive backwards — so their radiators don’t get hit. As it turns out, Gary wins the first heat, and Annette is in the third. Here goes:

In the third heat, I keep my eyes on Annette’s Crown Vic. Yes, Wild Woman is in action. I pick up the binoculars to check out the Tough Cookie’s face, what I can barely see beneath her helmet. She has a fierce grin as the rear of her car wallops the front end of any vehicle close by. Flags are going up on her victim’s cars. This woman wants to win, and I bet meeting Gary Beaumont in the finale must be an inspiration. Just a reminder that Gary is the father of Annette’s son, Abe, although he and most of the world don’t know that. Ma and I do. It was one of those brief high school hookups. “Could you imagine what that’d be like?” she once told me. “Having a father who’s a drug dealer? No thanks. He’s better off without him.” So, Annette in Tough Cookie fashion decided to bring him up alone.

“Damn, that woman sure can drive.” Jack gives me a squeeze. “Maybe Annette should give you some lessons, Isabel.”

“Very funny, Jack.”

But Jack is right about Annette’s driving skills, and she finishes off the last car left. Bam, its engine is still running, but that car is going nowhere. The crowd goes berserk. The True Blue Regulars are on their feet and hollering around me.

I nudge Fred, who just sits there.

“Hey, you used to be married to her. Why aren’t you cheering with the guys?”

He grins and nudges me back.

“You would say somethin’ like that, Isabel. Maybe cause I used to be married to her.”

The crowd’s noise has died down. People are up and stretching as the wrecks get towed from the field and the crew checks for broken parts on the ground. Jack’s left to use one of the porta-johns or maybe go in the woods if the line is too long. So, it’s just me and el Creepo. So far, I haven’t come up with a better nickname for Fred.

“Fred, can I ask you a question?”

“As long as it’s not about Annette.”

I shake my head.

“No, it’s about Lucas Page, the kid who died here after the demolition derby. You remember him?”

“How could I forget.” He points to a certain section of the woods behind us. “They found his body over there.”

“Did you know him?”

“Sometimes I’d see him on a job or around. Couldn’t miss him with that red hair of his. Why do you ask?”

“His grandmother wants me to look into his death.”

“Shirley? What the hell for?”

“She thinks it wasn’t an accident.”

“Tell me, Isabel. Do all your cases involve somebody’s death?”

“So far, yes. Why? You got a mystery I can solve that doesn’t?”

“Nope.”

Jack is back just in time for the three remaining cars to enter the pit: Wild Woman, Bad Ol’ Boys, and Road Hog, the winner in the second heat. Each driver gets a cheer from the crowd, who I bet is anticipating a good showdown in the finale.

“Who are you rootin’ for, Isabel,” Jack says with a chuckle.

“Annette, definitely. You?”

“Same.”

And with a blast of that airhorn, the cars start moving. It’s clear Annette and Gary plan to take out Road Hog right away as they circle the car. They want to go head to head, or in this case, rear end to rear end of their vehicles. As I expected, Road Hog is a goner about ten minutes into the heat. Now, the driver is stuck in the middle of the pit, watching as Wild Woman and Bad Ol’ Boys circle him. His car is off limits now that he’s hoisted the surrender flag, but he has the best view of anyone about what’s happening down there. Round and round the two cars go. Both are driving backwards really fast, something I could never do, Jack reminds me. Annette tries to take out a rear tire on Gary’s vehicle, but he speeds away in time.

“That was a close one,” the announcer says. “Bad Ol’ Boys better watch out for Wild Woman it they know what’s good for ’em.”

Everyone around us is laughing like crazy fools.

It was a close call, and now the two of them play cat and mouse, nicking each other’s cars although not enough to do either of them in. But then, both cars spin around and speed toward each other. Many in the crowd rise to their feet as if that would get them closer to the action.

And, then, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, Wild Woman and Bad Ol’ Boys hit each other head on, and from the impact, it’s clear that’s the end of the road for both vehicles. The crowd goes nuts. I get to my feet and join them.

“What do you think?” I ask Jack.

“Not a bad way to finish,” he says. “I wonder if they planned it that way.”

“Don’t know, but I’m going to find out.”

“I bet you will, Isabel.”

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: A scene from the demolition derby I attended at the Cummington Fair a few years back.

INFO ABOUT WORKING THE BEAT: My book, no. 5 in the Isabel Long Mystery Series, will be released on Jan. 27. Kindle readers can pre-order now. I will let you know when the paperback version will be released by my publisher darkstroke books.

Here is the link on Amazon: mybook.to/workingthebeat

And as a bonus see the video I created below.

Standard
Hunter's Rules cover
Darkstroke Books, Edinburgh Crime Series

Val Penny, Scotland and her new mystery Hunter’s Rules

I have read all of Val Penny’s books in her Edinburgh Crime Mysteries Series, which is set in Scotland, where she lives. Truth be told she is originally from the U.S. So, I asked how her adopted home inspired her to write this series. Here, I will let her tell you herself and about the latest in the series — Hunter’s Rules — which will be released Jan. 1 by darkstroke books and is available now on Amazon for pre-order.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. It is always a pleasure to visit.

Vicky's Edinburgh 2

Edinburgh, Scotland

My family has been moving between the U.S.A. and the U.K. for generations. It is always a bit of a lottery as to where you end up! As for me, I have been moving East all my life. Born in Northern , I attended high school in the Mile High City of Denver then worked in Virginia before crossing the pond and marrying a Scot.

I write crime thrillers and started writing in this genre because that is what I enjoy reading. I firmly believe that to be a good author, you must first be an avid reader and it is due to my love of reading and story-telling that I began to write novels.

Hunter’s Rules is the sixth book in my Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series and there are many more to come! Although the books form a series, each works as a standalone novel, so readers can join the stories at any point.

The books are set in the beautiful city of Edinburgh which is the capital of Scotland. I chose it because it is a relatively small city and people from different walks of life and backgrounds are known to each other. That allows me to have some fun with my characters and storylines.

I am particularly proud of this book because, although the story is complete within itself, the concept follows on from a short story that I contributed to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland. The story, which is again a standalone piece, is the prequel to the novel. I hope those who read both will enjoy the conceit and those who read either will be absorbed by them.

Hunter’s Rules Blurb

A bloody scene brings Hunter and Meera’s romantic plans to an abrupt end.

A young woman was attacked in a hotel lift. She has life-changing injuries, but she is alive. Hunter notes that her wounds are like those inflicted on two women who previously died.

Can Meera keep the injured woman alive long enough for her to identify her assailant? Is the same person responsible for all three crimes? When Hunter is identified as a suspect in the crime, can he establish his innocence and lead his team to solve the crime and keep Edinburgh safe?

An excerpt from Hunter’s Rules

“Scott,” Hunter repeated. “Earth to Scott.”

“Evening, sir. This is posh, isn’t it?”

“Are you here to work or admire the décor?” Hunter asked.

“Sorry. The sarge says you need us to take witness statements.”

“Exactly so, and here comes the cavalry,” Hunter said. He smiled at Chloe Ferguson. Everyone called her Fergie. She led her team of CSIs towards him. He looked at her grim expression.

“We’ll need to get this done pronto so the hotel can have their lift back. Of course, it must be thoroughly sanitised before it’s back in use,” she said. “Anyway, Sam’s on her way. We’ll let her get her initial photos taken before we start. It looks like someone’s danced on the floor. Look at those bloody footprints in the car and all over here.” She pointed to the marks on the shiny polished floor.

“Sorry, Fergie. Hands up, that was me and Meera. We checked if the woman was still alive and when she was, Meera did what she could for her while I called you and the ambulance.”

“For fuck’s sake, Hunter. You know better.”

“I did as little damage as I could, but the victim was in a lift.”

“I know, I know. It’s just lucky the professionals are here now. Oh, and there’s Sam. Let’s give her space.”

Hunter watched the quiet photographer get her equipment ready and set to work.

“Neil, if you stay here and keep everybody away from the elevator. No mobile phone photos or films either. See anybody taking any you just confiscate their phone as containing evidence. That’ll stop the rest fast enough. Charlie, you and Scott take statements from the staff on duty in the bar and restaurant tonight. The guests too. See if you can get any descriptions of the woman and whoever she was with.”

“As we don’t know what either of them look like or names or anything, can you give us a clue, perhaps?” Scott asked.

“The woman mentioned the name Frederick. She has dark hair and was dressed in a fancy red velvet dress. A cocktail dress, I think they call it,” Hunter said. “I suppose there wouldn’t be too many red velvet dresses.”

“What are you doing here anyway?” Charlie asked.

“I was treating Meera to dinner, if it’s any of your business.”

“Well, it is. If you were having dinner at the same time as the victim, you could be witnesses. Did you see her?”

Val Penny’s books

This is the sixth book in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series of novels. Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret form Val with 6 booksthe rest of this bestselling series set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke.

You can also start at the beginning of The Jane Renwick Thrillers with The First Cut.

Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Author Contact Details

www.valpenny.com

https://www.facebook.com/Authorvalpenny

https://www.facebook.com/valerie.penny.739

www.facebook.com/groups/296295777444303

https://www.facebook.com/groups/167248300537409

https://twitter.com/valeriepenny

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17300087.Val_Penny

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Val-Penny/e/B07C4725TK?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1611574956&sr=1-1

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/val-penny

Buy Links

mybook.to/hunterschase

mybook.to/huntersrevenge

mybook.to/huntersforce

mybook.to/huntersblood

mybook.to/hunterssecret

mybook.to/huntersrules

bit.ly/LetsGetPublished

mybook.to/darkscotland

mybook.to/thefirstcut

 

Standard
Iisabel Long covers copy
Isabel Long Mystery Series, Working the Beat

What’s Behind the Title?

Working the Beat is number five in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. Like the other books in this series, that title popped into my head. It’s a bit of a tribute to Isabel’s former career as a journalist, first as a reporter and then as an editor. And I would be remiss in not stating my long career has been in that field.

As I can attest,  a reporter has a beat, whether it’s a topic such as higher education or crime, or one that’s geographic. A good reporter will work that beat to find and report stories — staying with them until the end.

When I was a reporter, I covered a rural area in Western Massachusetts for a daily newspaper. One might think there wouldn’t be any news in a town of say a thousand people, but as I found out, there was plenty to write about‚ even crime. I developed a list of reliable sources. I kept my ears and eyes open for possible tips, finding them sometimes in unexpected places. I was friendly when I needed to be. And a good listener. Yes, I put being nosy to a good cause.

Yes, these are transferable skills. And those are what Isabel Long uses as a private investigator.

In Working the Beat, Isabel is at a country fair with her mother when she is approached by a woman who says her grandson’s body was found there four years ago. Shirley Dawes raised Lucas after he was abandoned by his drug-addicted mother. She did better by him than she did her own children, when she was married to a no-good abuser.

As Isabel learns, the  young man’s body was found in a ravine after he apparently fell during a demotion derby. Nobody saw what happened. But Shirley doesn’t believe it was an accident.

Once again, Isabel is a sucker for a sad story.

She begins this case doing a thorough interview with Shirley. She speaks to people who knew Lucas. Then there is that file of clippings she snagged the day she lost her job at the newspaper.

Isabel works the beat meeting reliable sources from her other cases like the Old Farts in the back room of the general store, cousins Annette and Marsha, even the Beaumont brothers. Her timing is spot on — the demolition derby is the night she meets Shirley. I call that reporter’s good luck or in the case of Isabel, a P.I’s good luck.

As Isabel pursues this case, she encounters new persons of interest — an unsavory group who quickly become suspects. She also uncovers a secret about Lucas and a possible connection to another mystery.

I admit I am not brave enough to be a private investigator. So, I do it vicariously through Isabel Long.

By the way Working the Beat has an official release of Jan. 27 although the Kindle version is available for pre-order. (Soon on paperback.) Thanks for your support. Here is the link: mybook.to/workingthebeat

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: The covers for the books in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, designed by Laurence Patterson, co-publisher of darkstroke books.

 

 

Standard