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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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Real Book Virtual Party
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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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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Crooked Cat Books, Isabel Long Series

It’s Called Redneck’s Revenge

Redneck’s Revenge is the name of the second book in the Isabel Long mystery series. And guess what? It’s ready to pre-order for those who prefer to read on Kindle. Just a click and Redneck’s Revenge will be ready to pop into your device September 26. No money up front. How easy is that?

The Kindle version costs $2.99 by the way, which I believe is a good deal.

Here’s the link provided by my publisher, Crooked Cat Books: mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

As for those who prefer paperback, that version will be available next month. Don’t worry. I will let you know when that happens.

So what’s Redneck’s Revenge about? After her first case, Isabel Long is in a bit of a funk. Yeah, she solved that 28-year-old missing person’s case, but success has its cost. First her relationship with Jack, the owner of the Rooster Bar, is kaput for reasons those who have read the first book will understand. (I’m not giving away anything here, folks.) Then the cops tell Isabel she must work for a licensed P.I. for three years before she can do it solo.

But Isabel snaps out of it thanks to her 92-year-old mother — her very own Watson. She hooks up with a down-on-his-luck P.I. and better yet, finds a new case.

Annette Waters is convinced her father, Chet, an ornery cuss who owned a junkyard, didn’t die in a fire because he was drunk. Somebody killed him. Her list of suspects includes a rival junkyard owner, drug-dealing brothers, and an ex-husband. As a former journalist and now an amatuer sleuth, Isabel decides it’s too good a story to turn down.

Is Chet’s death a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.

Yeah, this was a fun book to write and I will be sharing more over the next few month about the characters, setting, etc. And what about Jack? Let’s just say things get a bit complicated.Chasing the Case cover copy

THE FIRST: Here’s the link for Chasing the Case, the first in the series, which is available in Kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: That’s the great cover designed by Laurence Patterson, co-publisher of Crooked Cat Books.

 

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Chasing the Case

There’s a Bar on Every Novel

I recently wrote this blog post for Jennifer C. Wilson, who just had her latest Kindred Spirits Westminster Abbey released. I thought it was worth sharing on mine. It includes a fun excerpt from my own recently released novel, Chasing the Case. Enjoy yourself.

One constant is my adult fiction is that each one has a bar. In my new mystery, Chasing the Case, the local watering hole is called the Rooster Bar and Grille. It was Chasing the Case cover copythe Do-Si-Do Bar (that’s a move in square dancing) in my previous novel, The Sweet Spot. There are others.

I will confess I’m not a big drinker — one good craft beer will do it for me — or someone who hangs out in bars. But I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent in them, raising a glass or bottle, and dancing with my husband when there’s a band. I especially like bars where the cliental knows each other, and those are the kinds of bars I have in my novels. For many small rural towns, bars are gathering spots for the locals. Many don’t have them. In my mystery, the town of Conwell only has one — the Rooster — but then again, it only has a thousand people.

Early in Chasing the Case, the protagonist Isabel Long takes her mother, who lives with her, to the Rooster for dinner. Isabel, who has left a long career in journalism, is seeing if she could hack being a private investigator. Her first case involves a woman who disappeared 28 years earlier from Conwell. Isabel ends up getting a part-time job at the Rooster, in part to get up close and personal with many of the people connected with the case.

Jack Smith, the Rooster’s owner, runs a friendly bar, but do something stupid and you’re out for six months. Do it again, and you might be banned forever. There’s music on Friday nights and his sister, Eleanor serves food Thursdays through Sundays. There’s a jukebox and televisions, so customers can watch sports.

Isabel used to go dancing there with her late husband, Sam. That’s another big change for her — being a widow. But she enjoys her new job and being in the middle of things.

In this excerpt, Isabel is working on her first night at the Rooster.

It’s Friday night and I’m behind the bar, fetching Buds for two guys who want a fun night out. They order four because two women wait for them at a table. I flip the caps, toss them in the can at my feet, and slide the cold bottles across the countertop toward them. One of them has the dollar bills curled in his hand. 

“Keep the change,” he says. 

“Thanks. Enjoy yourself.”

 They leave me an extra buck, which appears to be the standard tip for a round. I know Sam always did. I stuff the buck in the tip jar with the rest of the bills.

The Rooster is full. My station is behind the bar. Jack is on the floor, taking dinner orders and carrying the food out as fast as Eleanor can dish it out. She and I only spoke a few words. She grunts when I ask how she’s doing. She grunts, too, after I ask about her dogs. I get the feeling she’s not happy I’m working here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Jack, who keeps up a friendly banter whenever he passes. Jack grins and winks. He’s what I’d call a big tease.

I pop caps off beer bottles. The King of Beers reigns supreme at the Rooster. I’ve only had two requests for beer on tap by newcomers, of course, and I was pleased I got them done correctly.

I call home once to see how Ma is doing. She tells me she and the cat are fine. She’s watching an old movie. I say I’ll be home around eleven. I would tell her not to wait up, but that’s not necessary. 

The music started a half-hour ago and the Lone Sums are stinking up the place. I didn’t think you could blow a song like “Sweet Home Alabama,” but these guys are doing just that. Just wait until they try “Free Bird.” Somebody always requests that one, usually one of the young drunks, who’ll shout it from across the room just for the hell of it. 

“These guys play here before?” I ask Jack when he brings a tray of empties behind the bar.

“Nah. I doubt if I’ll bring ’em back,” he says as he drops the bottles into the carton at our feet.

 “They’re pretty bad. But I guess if you drink enough you can dance to almost anything.”

MORE: Like what you read? Then get your own copy at http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: A window box outside Nancy L. Dole Books in Shelburne Falls and a couple of books to tempt readers inside the store.

 

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