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Isabel Long Mystery Series, Working the Beat

Working the Beat Ready to Pre-Order

Yes, indeed, starting today Kindle readers can pre-order Working the Beat, number five in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. Then magically my book will appear on their device Jan. 27, perfect timing for those in the Northern Hemisphere who are stuck inside for the worst of winter. Fans in the Southern Hemisphere can add it to their summer reading list.

Why would I want you to do a pre-order? According to Amazon, pre-orders contribute toward a book’s sale rank even before its release, which gets the word out to more readers.

To make it easy here is the link: mybook.to/workingthebeat.

Now, paperback fans are wondering: what about us? I will let you all know when they will be available, which will be long before Jan. 27.

Currently, I am still in the editing process with Miriam Drori, who has been the editor for my series. But as long as we have the cover, created by Laurence Patterson, and the synopsis for the back of the book, edited by Stephanie Patterson, we are good to begin pre-orders. The Pattersons are the brains behind darkstroke books, my publisher.

So what is Isabel Long up to in Working the Beat? She happens to be at the Titus Country Fair when she is approached by an old woman who says her grandson’s body was found four years earlier after the demolition derby. The cops say he slipped and fell down a ravine when everybody was fixed on cars smashin’ and crashin’ in the pit. Shirley Dawes doesn’t believe it.

Once again Isabel is a sucker for a sad story. Shirley Dawes brought up Lucas Page after his drug-addicted mother abandoned him. She tried to make up for the awful childhood her own kids had because of her late husband, a no-good abuser. And by what people say Lucas was a good guy.

So as Isabel pursues this case she relies on reliable sources she met during her other cases — those characters I couldn’t bear to let go like the Old Farts, Tough Cookie, the Floozie, the Beamont brothers and Dancing’ Dave. Oh Cyrus Nilsson aka the Big Shot Poet returns. Isabel meets new people, a rather unsavory group country-style who soon become suspects, and uncovers a couple of secrets. And turns out Lucas might be tied to another mystery — a string of break-ins in the hilltowns that happened months before he died.

Yes, Isabel and her 93-year-old mother, Maria, her “Watson,” are in the thick of it.

Here’s an excerpt. Isabel and her mother are at the Titus County Fair. Abe, the son of Annette Waters aka the Tough Cookie, won the pumpkin-growing contest with one weighing over 500 pounds. Shirley Dawes has already approached Isabel and now is waiting to talk with her at one of the picnic tables.

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, naturally, 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.”

I glance at my mother. She’s interested, of course. The questions are forming in my brain, but this isn’t the time to ask them. Already a parade of people I know have passed by with a wave, a hello, and a curious expression on their faces as they wonder why in the heck my mother and I are talking with this woman. They’re just being nosy New Englanders as usual.

“Shirley, we’re interested, but this isn’t the best place to talk. We need some privacy. How about my mother and I come to your home to talk this over?”

“What’d you say? My house?”

“Yes, your house. Well, you could come to ours if you prefer. We live in Conwell. But it would help us if we could see where you and your grandson lived. I should also tell you that if I’m interested in taking your case, I have to clear it with my boss. Do you know Lin Pierce?” I pause as she nods. “He gets a small cut of whatever I make. So, he has a say.” I register the concern in Shirley’s narrowed eyes. “Don’t worry. He hasn’t turned me down yet.”

“I understand,” she says. “Can’t do it tomorrow. I’m helpin’ out in the kitchen here. Monday mornin’ work for you?”

Ma and I exchange glances.

“How about ten?” I say.

“Ten, it is. Do you mind if I make a copy of your grandson’s photo with my phone?”

“Go right ahead if it helps.”

I place the photo on the table and remove my cell phone from my bag to take a shot before I hand the photo back to Shirley.

“Here you go.”

Shirley leaves us after she gives me directions to her house in West Titus. She lives on one of those dead-end dirt roads, hers is the last house, that’s also likely one of the last to be plowed in the winter and impassable at times in the spring because of the mud. But she’s probably one of those people who doesn’t mind because she wants to live out of the way of everybody. I don’t have to worry about road conditions this time of year. The road’s been graded recently she told me.

I wait until Shirley is out of earshot as she moves inside the crowd that’s wandering the fairgrounds. She stops first at the pumpkin display, where Annette and Abe are still hanging out.

“What’s your opinion, Ma?”

“I like her. She’s a little rough around the edges like a lot of the people we meet here,” she says. “But it’s about time we found a new case. It was getting a little boring.”

I smile. My 93-year-old mother is game for a new mystery to solve.

I hope this inspires you to read Working the Beat, number five in the Isabel Long Mystery Series.

 

 

 

 

 

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Isabel Long Mystery Series, Working the Beat

No. 5 Is Finished — Sort Of

Today, I reached the end of Working the Beat, no. 5 in the Isabel Long Mystery Series, which weighs in at 74,940 words. Well, I’m sort of at the end. I have printed all 279 pages and will go through them with my trusty red flare before I listen to them on my computer.

And then I will happily submit Working the Beat to my publisher, darkstroke books.

Yesterday, a son asked if this was only a first draft. My answer: I don’t work that way. I will stop at certain points in a novel’s process, basically when I feel I am ready, print out what I’ve written so far and go at it. I feel by time I’ve reached “the end” that it’s in solid shape. Of course, my editor will find things I need to fix as well.

I will admit it hasn’t been easy finding the time to write — and promote — given the increased demands of my job as editor-in-chief of three newspapers. But when I could, I found a great deal of satisfaction being with the characters and setting I created as I let Isabel Long try to solve yet another mystery.

So, what is this one about? A man’s body is found after a demotion derby at a country fair. The official story is that he was drunk and fell down a rocky ravine. His scrappy grandmother doesn’t believe it, so she hires Isabel to get to the truth. Once again Isabel encounters family secrets, unsolved crimes and the unusual suspects.

Just to get you started, here’s the opening scene to the book’s first chapter “Dead at the Rooster.” For those new to the series, Isabel and Jack, who owns the Rooster Bar and Grill, are an item, as they say. She tends bar part-time for Jack as well as being a P.I. solving cold cases in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts.

It’s a dead night at the Rooster, deader than I’ve ever seen it. There’s no band even though it’s a Friday night, but Jack was smart not to book one. A few drinkers have bellied up to the bar, but nobody lingers long. Neither did those who come for dinner. Jack’s customers have somewhere else more important to go: the Titus Country Fair in the next town over. It was the same yesterday for truck pull night. That’s when drivers, mostly guys, try to get their stripped-down and souped-up car or pickup to pull as much weight as possible over a line, and everybody in the crowd watches to see if they make or break it. Tonight, horses are pulling, a draw for the traditionalists. And tomorrow, Saturday, is demolition derby night. Jack’s not even going to bother opening his bar. Besides, he wants to go like his pals. And he wants me with him. That’s what I get for hooking up with a local boy. 

Right now, Jack and I are sitting at the bar, playing poker and listening to tunes on the jukebox to pass the time until much later when people will likely show up when the fair shuts down. No booze is allowed at the Titus Country Fair, for good reasons, so people will be mighty thirsty unless they managed to sneak in something.  

“Ready for our hot date tomorrow night, Isabel?” Jack asks. 

“Are you saying watching cars smash into each other until only one of them is left is your idea of a hot date?” 

He grins as he throws down his cards. Crap, he’s beat me again. 

“Uh-huh. What’s your idea?” He chuckles. “By the way, you’re one lousy poker player. If we was playin’ strip poker, you would’ve been naked a few hands ago.”

“Me naked at your bar?” 

Jack grins.

“Not a bad idea.”

“Sure, boss.”

Okay, that’s enough. It’s back to work for me. In the meantime, if you want to check out my other books on Amazon, here’s the link: Joan Livingston Books

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Isabel Long Mystery Series

The Suspense Is Killing Me

No, not really, but I wanted to get your attention. Besides, it’s an appropriate sentence given I’m closing in on the ending to the next book in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. This one, number five, is called Working the Beat. I believe I’m on track to have it wrapped up by the end of the month and shipped off to my publisher.

As I’ve written before, I solve my mysteries along with my protagonist Isabel Long, a long-time journalist who uses the skills she learned in that prematurely shortened career to solve cold cases in the very rural area where she lives in Western Massachusetts. Yes, you have guessed correctly I am not one of those authors who plots ahead of time. I let my imagination loose on the characters I create, several from past books plus new ones, the setting and the story line. Without sounding like a total nut, I channel Isabel as she tries to solve a case.

I’ve read and watched enough mysteries that I am disappointed when I figure out whodunnit way before the P.I., cop or whoever does. Throw me some curveballs please. But likewise I don’t want too many long leads that turn out to be obvious dead ends.

So, what’s Isabel up to this time? It’s the end of summer and the Titus Country Fair is being held. That’s where and when Isabel is approached by this crusty old gal, Shirley Dawes, who wants her to investigate the death of her grandson at the fair four years earlier. It happened during demolition derby night although his body was found the next morning. The case brings Isabel — and her mother, who is her sidekick — in contact with a new set of characters after she agrees to take it on. I’ll be sharing more on that soon.

But back to that crucial scene. It involves the people of interest in this case at a place and setting that pulls them all together — a birthday party at Baxter’s Bar. Isabel just showed up. Jack’s with her. What kind of trouble can she get herself into there?

I can’t wait to find out.

MY BOOKS: In the meantime, if you haven’t read them already see the links below to the series on Amazon. If you have, thank you very much,

http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

http://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

https://mybook.to/checkingthetraps

https://mybook.to/killingthestory

PHOTO ABOVE: I was chuffed, as my UK friends would say, to see the Portuguese flags strung above the main drag in Provincetown on a recent trip. Isabel would like that too.

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The Unquiet Spirit Best seller
Character Traits

Character Traits: Dr Kate Wilson of The Unquiet Spirit

Penny Hampson 2020

Author Penny Hampson

One of the bonuses of being part of an international publishing house is making friends with authors across the pond, as they say. Penny Hampson is a fellow author with Darkstroke Books. Here she writes about the character Dr Kate Wilson from her book, The Unquiet Spirit, which she describes as a spooky mystery/romance. I like books with strong and complex female characters, which fits the bill for Penny’s protagonist. Here I will let Penny tell you all about her.

Dr Kate Wilson is an independent woman in her early thirties, and she is the main character in my spooky mystery/romance, The Unquiet Spirit. She’s intelligent — she’s got a PhD — and is passionate about history and books. When I came up with the idea for Kate I needed someone who wouldn’t be restricted by a nine-to-five job, hence her career researching the family trees of wealthy patrons.

Kate is down to earth and doesn’t believe in ghosts — well, not at first, though she does have a few hang-ups. She doesn’t like enclosed spaces, won’t go in lifts (elevators), and a traumatic experience with a neighbour’s pet has made her fearful of dogs. I confess, I share some of these feelings.

Kate has recently been badly let down by a boyfriend; he’d told her that he was single when he was very much married. So suspicious of men, and wanting a fresh start, she is ready to give up her academic life in Oxford and move to the house she’s unexpectedly inherited in Cornwall. Wouldn’t we all like to wake up one morning and discover we own a beautiful seventeenth century house near the coast?

An only child, Kate gets on well with her parents even though they don’t always see eye-to-eye. Kate’s mum wanted her to study science, but encouraged by Win, her godmother, Kate chose to study history instead. Kate’s relationship with Win is very close, built up over the years when Kate used to stay with her in Cornwall as a child. With no children of their own, Win and her late husband treated Kate as a daughter, so Kate is devastated when Win dies in mysterious circumstances. Despite their closeness, Kate is still taken by surprise when she finds out that Win has left her The Beeches in her will. She makes up her mind to look after the house that she has grown to love, and to discover the real reason for her godmother’s sudden death.

When the librarian, Ruth Morris, asks Kate if she can help Sue Pellow to sort out her family papers, Kate readily agrees, showing what a kind-hearted person she is. She is a little more reserved with Tom Carbis, a surly chap she bumps into several times before learning that he is her next door neighbour. Let’s just say that Kate’s first impressions of him aren’t good ones! But who can blame her when she is still bruised from her toxic relationship with her last boyfriend?

I like to think that when readers first meet Kate, on the run from a stalker in Oxford, they see Kate at her best — determined, resourceful, and unwilling to give in to adversity. She might be frightened, but she keeps calm and holds her nerve, she even manages to keep her sense of humour. Will she be able to deal equally as well with the new challenges that face her when she moves to Cornwall? You’ll have to read The Unquiet Spirit to find out!

An excerpt from The Unquiet Spirit

No young man to celebrate Christmas with, then?asked Win, a wicked gleam in her eye.

Kate chuckled. “’Fraid not… Not that Id neglect family at Christmas. Men are too much trouble anyway.She sipped her gin and tonic, enjoying the tang and feeling of warmth as it went down her throat. It soothed the lingering bitterness of her last break-up. Robin had certainly been too much trouble. She silently wished him a miserable Christmas, hoping his wife was giving him a hell of a time. He deserved it. She would never have got involved if shed known he was married his divorce just another of his fabrications. She wondered how long it would be before she could trust someone again.

Win sipped her whisky and gave Kate a speculative look.

You should come down to Falmouth. Help me with a bit of research if youre at a loose end. I think it would be just up your street.

Oh? Whats that then?” Kates interest was piqued, despite her inner gloom.

Wins mouth pursed. Im not going gaga, but Im sure…well, Im almost sure that The Beeches is haunted.

Youre having me on?Kate got the impression that Win wasnt joking.

No, Im not. But…perhaps I am imagining some things.A thoughtful expression crossed Wins face. No, I didnt.” She shook her head. I definitely heard noises last week and…Ive seen things, Kate.

So who is Penny Hampson?

Penny Hampson writes mysteries, and because she has a passion for history, you’ll find her stories also reflect that. A Gentleman’s Promise, a traditional Regency romance, was Penny’s debut novel, which was shortly followed by more in the same genre. Penny also enjoys writing contemporary mysteries with a hint of the paranormal, because where do ghosts come from but the past? The Unquiet Spirit, a spooky mystery/romance set in Cornwall, was published by Darkstroke in 2020.

Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).

Find her on social media

For more on Penny’s writing, visit her blog: https://pennyhampson.co.uk/blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/penny_hampson

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pennyhampsonauthor

Penny Hampson’s Books

THE GENTLEMEN SERIES (Regency Historical Mystery/Romances)

A Gentleman’s Promise (revised 2nd edition coming soon)

An Officer’s Vow: purchase link ~ mybook.to/AnOfficersVow

A Bachelor’s Pledge: purchase link ~ mybook.to/ABachelorsPledge

The Unquiet Spirit (A spooky contemporary mystery/romance) purchase link ~ getbook.at/theunquietspirit

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audio, reviews

Listening to Hunter’s Chase on Audible

I had a long drive ahead to visit family, a solo road trip I wasn’t looking forward to, but then I remembered that I had downloaded the audiobook of Val Penny’s Hunter’s Chase on Audible. So, I hit play on my iPhone, and away the book’s narrator and I were traveling on the road together.

In what I recognized as an authentic Scottish accent by the narrator, I listened as DI Hunter Wilson had some serious problems to deal with in Edinburgh, Scotland like drugs flooding into the city and three related deaths. Then, there were the responsibilities of running a department.

This was not the first time I became immersed in Hunter’s Chase. I read the book when it first came out and I continued with the other four in Val Penny’s Edinburgh Crime Mysteries Series. I love a UK mystery whether it’s on a page, a screen or my phone. My preference are strong characters, like the very classy DI Hunter Wilson, and a plot that keeps me guessing. Val does that well.

Knowing how Hunter’s Chase ends didn’t lessen my enjoyment listening to it. Although a few of the Scottish pronunciations escaped me — I am American after all — I was thoroughly involved in the narration.

Thanks Val Penny for making that long trip there and back an enjoyable one.

(By the way, I am writing this post as part of the Hunter’s Chase Audible Blog Tour organized by Reading Between the Lines Book Vlog.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Author Val Penny

Val Penny’s crime novels — Hunter’s Chase, Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force, Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret — form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke books. 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.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.

BLURB 

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course.

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

LINK TO BUY AUDIBLE BOOK 

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Hunters-Chase-Audiobook/B092CDB6ZX

 

AUTHORS LINKS

www.valpenny.com

https://www.facebook.com/Authorvalpenny

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

bit.ly/LetsGetPublished

mybook.to/darkscotland 

mybook.to/thefirstcut

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