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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?”


“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:

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.


I am sitting in somebody's car while wearing big, pink sunglasses.
Dylan, Entertainment, poetry, Writing

Free Wheelin’ with Bob Dylan

For the past few weeks I’ve been on a Bob Dylan kick. I listen to Dylan on my short commute to and from work. I listen to him at home. I started on the early stuff and am working my way through most of his albums in our collection. I have my Dylan station on Pandora although I wished it played more of him and less of his musical kin.

I listened to Blonde on Blonde, twice, because I liked it so much. Now I am on John Wesley Harding. Next up is Nashville Skyline.

Do I like every song? No. And the lyrics of some of his earlier songs are undecipherable. But I can feel what he intended. As the salesman at the dealership said last week when he handed me the Blonde on Blonde CD I left in the car: “Dylan? He was a poet.”

Yes, Dylan’s music, at least in the stretch I am now listening, is poetry set to guitars and harmonicas.

And then, there are the lines where there is no mistaking what he meant. “You better start swimming or sink like a stone, cause the times they are a-changing.” “Heard ten thousand whispering and nobody listening. Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughing. Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter.”

I recall one time when I was in college, about the time that photo of me above was taken, when I stayed a couple of days in a cabin waiting for my boyfriend to arrive. He was my first real love but like so many boys then scared away. He took his time getting to the cabin because, unbeknownst to me, he was planning to end our relationship.

So I spent my time listening to Dylan — over and over and over. You know you know an album when you can sing the lyrics perfectly and predict the opening chords of the next song. I still remember.

I’ve stuck through Dylan through his many phases professionally and personally — well, I could have done without that embarrassing Victoria Secret ad — even to now when his voice has worn into a raspy growl.

Dylan’s produced an outstanding body of work. He changed the way people made music. He inspired change, too, in those who listened.

I have a long ways to go before I’m done with Dylan.

Now about that photo: My sister Christine sent the faded black and white photo and Katharine, the photographer at the newspaper, was able to work it up digitally. I remember the pink sunglasses and the shirt. I was in college but I don’t know who took the photo or who owned the car. I would say I look a little Dylanesque in that photo. And I like the curl at the top.