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Isabel Long Series, Redneck's Revenge

Music to Read By

My new mystery, Redneck’s Revenge, has its own soundtrack. Nothing fancy. Basically, it’s whatever the bands are playing at the local bar, actually two in this novel, the second in the Isabel Long series. I’d say it’s a mix of country, rock, and a bit of blues. Think covers of songs by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alabama, Allman Brothers, and just about any country star or band that’s got a danceable beat.

There’s the Rooster Bar and Grille in Conwell, the hilltown where Isabel, a journalist turned amateur sleuth, lives. Then there’s Baxter’s, a biker bar in another fictional hilltown, where she goes to meet people connected to her second case. What’s that one about? A woman hires Isabel — for free mechanical service — to find out what happened to her father, an ornery SOB who owned a garage and junkyard. The cops say he was passed-out drunk when his house caught fire. His daughter says he was murdered.

Both the Rooster and Baxter’s are country bars and for their towns, the only bar. They attract folk who like to drink, dance, and socialize — and sometimes get into trouble.

In Chasing the Case, the first book in this series, Isabel took a part-time job bartending at the Rooster. When Redneck’s Revenge opens, she’s lost that job and a romance with Jack, the owner, for reasons I won’t divulge here.

Both bars host local bands. Often, they play Fridays at the Rooster, then Saturdays at Baxter’s as if they’re on a hilltown circuit. Some bands are good. Some are not so good. But if they play tunes that get people on the floor, they might get asked back.

Here is an excerpt from Redneck’s Revenge. Isabel is at Baxter’s to do a bit of research for her new case. Isabel’s companions are the woman who hired her, plus the woman’s cousin. A man who was eyeing Isabel earlier that night asks her to dance. By the way, Sam was her late husband.

Oh, why not. I get to my feet and hold out my hand. “Ramblin’ Man” is not one of my favorite dance songs, but it’ll work.

I let my dancing partner take the lead while we make steps around the floor. If I were to rank him, I’d say he was on par with Jack but not as good as Sam. Actually, it’s fun dancing with a perfect stranger.

The song ends, but before the next one begins and I can escape, he leans in to say, “Name’s Dave. What’s yours?”

“Isabel.”

“Never seen you in here before.”

“It’s my first time,” and before he or I can say more, the Country Plowboys are working up Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock.” Now if there was ever a heart-pumper of a song, this is it. Heck, I’m not gonna turn this one down. Dave grabs my hand without asking. He knows what he’s doing, so I just go along, moving back and forth, a twirl here and there. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d spun me over his back, but thankfully, he doesn’t.

At the end, the County Plowboys call it quits for a short break. I thank Dave and before I can leave him behind, he says, “Maybe we can dance some more later.”

I nod and smile. Isabel, what the hell are you up to?

One song has a particular significance in this series: Waylon Jenning’s “Good Hearted Woman.” Jack originally coaxed Isabel onto the dance floor with that one. And although Isabel was amused — the song is about a woman who will put up with anything her bad boy of a guy will do — it becomes a thing between the two of them.

It’s unfortunate I can’t use the lyrics in my novels because of copyright laws. But my hope is that readers remember the tunes and just hum along with the words I wrote.

Redneck’s Revenge’s official launch is Sept. 26. Here’s the link to get your paperback or order a Kindle version: mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Buildings along the Buckland side of Shelburne Falls Village, where I live, are reflected in the Deerfield River. Floodwater Brewing Co., soon to be opened by our son, Zack, is located in the building painted yellow along with the one with the porch next to it.

 

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Isabel Long Series, Redneck's Revenge

Meet Isabel Long P.I.

Isabel Long is the star of my mystery series set in the sticks of Western Massachusetts. Actually, I name the series, which includes Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge, after her. She’s a long-time journalist who tries her hand at being a private investigator and does well by it. But who the heck is she?

First off, when I decided to write a mystery, I wanted a protagonist who is a woman. Rednecks Revenge smallShe wasn’t going to be a sweet, young thing. She was going to be a woman with some good miles on her — what the French call une femme d’un certain age. Isabel has three grown kids and a granddaughter. She’s also a recent widow. As for looks, she’s attractive enough to gain the attention of older men.

And Isabel had a long career as a journalist — starting as a reporter covering the dinky hilltown where she lives to being the managing editor of a newspaper until that ended when it went corporate. When the new owner said everybody had to reapply for their job. Isabel said, “To hell with that.”

Yeah, Isabel is a bit on the sassy side. She doesn’t take crap from anybody. She’s also savvy, which made her a good journalist. Now it will come in handy as a private investigator.

Isabel lives in a hilltown in rural Western Massachusetts. She and her late husband, Sam moved there from the city to make a better life for their children. Conwell, population a thousand, is the kind of place where most people know each other for better or worse. Isabel probably knows them even better because her first job as Chasing the Case cover copyreporter was covering it. In fact her first case, featured in Chasing the Case, was also her first big story as a rookie reporter. That involved the disappearance of Adela Collins 28 years earlier.

Other occupational benefits: Keeping an open mind and being able to talk with just about anybody. Oh, yeah, being relentless until she gets her story — or the culprit.

Isabel is also of Portuguese heritage, or as she says, “Yes, Long is my married name. Ferreira is the name I got at birth. I’m a hundred percent Portuguese and proud that I’ve invaded a Yankee stronghold in the hilltowns.”

Isabel’s also ready to reinvent herself — as a private investigator and as a single woman. The second part means after a year of properly grieving her late husband whom she loved, she’s ready for relationship with another man — and she finds it. Her relationship with Jack, owner of the Rooster Bar, has its ups and a big down. But I’m not going to spoil what happens for readers.

So, how much of me is in Isabel? I’d like to say the sassy and savvy part, especially since I wrote these books in first person. I, too, was a journalist who started in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts, where I’ve lived twice. But unlike Isabel, I didn’t become a P.I. Instead I write about one, and that’s fine with me.

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter in Redneck’s Revenge. Isabel is meeting a licensed P.I. to see if he will take her on as an associate. The cops told her she had to work for one for three years before she could go solo.

I smile and extend my hand to Franklin Pierce. I feel a bit self-conscious my skin is colder and rougher than his. I’m curious why someone would name their kid after one of the worst presidents so far although I can think of a few other contenders. But now isn’t the time to bring up that observation. I need to win this man over. So, what will it be: Franklin or Frank although I seriously doubt Frankie. I play it safe.

“Mr. Pierce, hello.”

“Please call me Lin. And you? Is it Isabel or Izzie? Which do you prefer?”

I shake my head.

“Never Izzie,” I say.

“I’ll remember that.”

“Okay, Lin. How do you spell that?”

“L-I-N.”

Gotcha. I follow him inside. For a man who makes money investigating private cases, this office is a bit of a joke, or maybe he doesn’t make much. Someone could easily move in one of the cheapo dollar stores or a salon where they fix blue hair for old ladies. A cracked vinyl couch is set near the entrance along with a coffee table stacked with magazines I bet aren’t current. The only art on the walls are a print of Norman Rockwell’s “Runaway,” the one in which a cop talks to a boy inside what looks like a diner, and framed newspaper pages that are yellow and faded. We’re moving too fast toward the back of the office for me to read what they say. A desk piled high with papers but no booze bottles or ashtrays, I’m relieved not to see, is semi-hidden by a partition along with two chairs for guests, a file cabinet, and beyond them a door I presume leads to a bathroom. I smell pizza through the walls from the joint next door.

Lin places his cowboy hat on the desktop and throws his long canvas coat over the back of his chair before he sits. He wears a dark suit, a bit frayed in the cuffs. His striped tie has a stain, perhaps coffee or a drop of grease. He shaved this morning. And he’s almost due for a haircut. Yes, my observation skills are getting sharper. I will need them if I continue to investigate cases.

I take Lin’s cue and choose one of the chairs opposite him. He studies me as I unbutton my coat and slide it away. I came dressed for this interview in a blouse and skirt. I pulled my silver hair back into a twist, now that it’s long enough. I haven’t dressed this fancy since I got canned from my job as the managing editor of the Daily Star. Now that I’m not sitting at a desk all day, I’ve lost some weight, a welcome development. My cheekbones are even more pronounced.

“Nice work on the Adela Collins case,” Lin says. “I was impressed. It’s tough to solve a missing person’s case after so many years. How many was it?”

“Twenty-eight.”

He repeats the number.

“Yup, that’s a long time.”

REDNECK’S REVENGE: The second in the Isabel Long mystery series has a formal launch Sept. 26. You can buy paperbacks now and pre-order the Kindle version, which will pop into your device that day. Here’s the link: mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

By the way both versions are available for its predecessor Chasing the Case: mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: A sunflower on the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, Mass., the village where I live.

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Launch party, Redneck's Revenge

Real Book, Virtual Party

Redneck’s Revenge, the next book in my Isabel Long mystery series, gets its official launch Sept. 26. That calls for a celebration. Yes, once again, I will have a launch party on Facebook.

Those who participated in the one May 18 for the first, Chasing the Case, had a lot of fun — honest, that’s what they told me — being a part of the discussion and contests. I know I did, going back and forth with people who dropped in. Here’s a post about that: https://www.joanlivingston.net/isabel-long-series/virtual-party-real-fun/

The party starts 2 p.m. in the eastern time zone in the U.S. But I will leave everything up for 24 hours for friends living in other parts of the world and those who have a boss looking over their shoulder. I will pop in as well.

This is a public event. The more the merrier. Here is the link to say you are interested or plan to go: Redneck’s Revenge Facebook launch party

But back to those contests: I will be giving away signed editions of Chasing the Case, plus a couple of lucky winners will have their names used in the fourth Isabel Long book I will start after I finish the third — Checking the Traps. (The names of few winners from May’s party appear in Checking the Traps.)

Don’t worry if you haven’t done this before. It’s easy to catch on. It’s not really different than commenting on regular Facebook posts. And I will be giving info and reminders as we get closer.

To put you in the mood, here is the synopsis of Redneck’s Revenge:

Her next case. She’s in it for good.

Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over. Then cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo.

 Encouraged by her Watson — her 92-year-old mother  — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case.

 The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband.

Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.

NOW A LITTLE BUSINESS: The Kindle version of Redneck’s Revenge is available to pre-order for $2.99 on Amazon. It will pop into your device Sept. 26. Paperback fans and those who can’t wait can order the book for $10.99. Here is the link: http://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

Haven’t read the first? Here’s the link to Chasing the Case on Amazon: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

ANOTHER THING: There is absolutely plenty of room for everyone. Don’t be shy.

 

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Isabel Long Series, Redneck's Revenge

Who I Decide to Keep

It’s a bit of a puzzle when writing a series to decide which characters to keep and which ones to let go. That’s true for Chasing the Case and its sequel Redneck’s Revenge.

What made it easier is that Isabel Long’s next case takes her to another hilltown — Rednecks Revenge smallthe fictional Caulfield — where another set of characters lives. But I did hold onto some from the first.

Of course, Isabel Long and her mother — her Watson — are keepers. This is the Isabel Long mystery series after all. And most sleuths need a sidekick. Isabel’s is a bit unusual  — her savvy 92-year-old mother, Maria, who lives with her.

What about Jack Smith, the owner of the Rooster Bar, who was Isabel’s love interest from the first? I like Jack. So does Isabel. Let’s just say things have gotten a bit complicated. So has life for his sister, Eleanor. Those who have read the first book will understand. No spoiler alerts here.

Of course, the Old Farts, those nosy old men who gossip about everybody in the backroom of the Conwell General Store, including Isabel, stay. She’s given them endearing nicknames: the Fattest Old Fart, Serious Old Fart, Skinniest Old Fart, Bald Old Fart and Silent Old Fart. They continue to be her source of information and entertainment. The one thing they don’t know is that Isabel calls them by those names.

Fred “El Creepo” Lewis, Jack’s cousin was a figure in Isabel’s first case. Guess what? He’s in her second one.

Then there’s Marsha aka the Floozy. She’s one tough gal whose connection to Isabel’s first case was that she gave one of the suspects an alibi. Now for the second, she hooks Isabel up with her cousin Annette Waters, who hires her to look into the death of her father. The official story is her pop was drunk and passed out when his house caught fire. She doesn’t believe it for a second. Neither does Marsha.

I do keep some of the bands who play at the Rooster Bar, like the Cowlicks and the Lone Sums, which play that danceable and drinkable blend of country, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Of course, Isabel’s second case has a new victim and a new list of suspects. Most are a bit rough around the edges. I had such fun creating them. I’ll be sure to tell you about them in a future post.

A LITTLE BUSINESS: The Kindle version of Redneck’s Revenge is available for pre-order on Amazon. Click on the box and on Sept. 26 it will pop into your device. The cost is $2.99.

Paperback fans can order now — for $10.99. Here’s the link to both: http://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

And for those who haven’t read the first, both versions of Chasing the Case can be found here: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: A hibiscus plant on display at the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, where I live.

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Redneck's Revenge

Getting It Down on Paper

Today I received a copy of the paperback for Redneck’s Revenge, the second in my Isabel Long series. As my friends in the UK would say, I am chuffed. Yes, I am pro-eBook. It’s a great way to find a new read or a new author without investing a lot of money. But there’s something special about seeing something you thought up finally on paper.

For Kindle fans, Redneck’s Revenge is ready for pre-order. Click now and it will pop into your device Sept. 26.

But those who prefer paperback can go to the head of the line and order today. Plunk down $10.99 via a credit card. Voila! It will arrive in the mail in days. Here is the link: http://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

Books start with an idea. In my case, it was: I’m going to write a mystery with a woman protagonist that’s set in a rural area.

The other day I found a notebook with a page of notes about the book. The protagonist’s name is Isabel from the start. She loses her job managing a newspaper. Her husband walks out on her and takes half their money out of the bank on an icy day. Her mother moves in with her. Isabel gets a job at a local bar, where an old coot approaches her about his daughter who disappeared a long time ago.

That was in September 2016. I worked on Chasing the Case (not the original title) during the winter of 2017, when I lived in New Mexico, and finished it in the spring. The story changed. Isabel’s husband isn’t a cad. I bumped him off instead. Isabel does work part-time in a bar, but her first case turns out to be her first big story as a rookie reporter — the disappearance of a woman 28 years earlier. Her 92-year-old mother becomes her Watson.

I enjoyed writing Chasing the Case so much, I wrote a sequel — Redneck’s Revenge — while moving to rural Western Massachusetts, where this mystery is set.

Redneck’s Revenge is my latest book published by Crooked Cat Books, which took a chance on the series late last year.

I knew my copy of Redneck’s Revenge was arriving via the U.S. Post Office today, so I dashed out of the house when I heard the mail truck stop at our box. I tore open the envelope.

Those who have read the first — and thank you — will find many of the same characters make it into the second. Of course, there’s Isabel and her mother. Look for Jack, the Old Farts in the back room, and a woman that Isabel nicknamed the Floozy, who is one of the links to her next case. Then there’s a whole bunch of new characters since this murder mystery takes place in another fictional hilltown in Western Mass.

If you haven’t, you might want to check out Chasing the Case: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

Here’s a brief synopsis of Redneck’s Revenge:

Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over. Then the cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo.

Encouraged by her Watson — her 92-year-old mother — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case.

The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband.

Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.

Intrigued? I hope you are enough to want to read it.

EMAIL NOTIFICATION: Hey, if you want an email nod every time I post something on this website, you can sign up here: https://www.joanlivingston.net/email-updates/

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Yup, that’s me holding my new book.

 

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