Isabel Long Mystery Series

Who’s New in the Series

I mean the characters in Following the Lead, next in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. As those who have read my books know, I have many who appear in every or nearly every book: Jack, the owner of the Rooster and Isabel’s love interest, of course.; the Old Farts; Annette aka Tough Cookie; the Beaumont brothers. Even ex-police chief Jim Hawthorne aka Thorny, an appropriate name because he’s a thorn in Isabel’s side, lingers in this series.

But fresh blood is welcome. And that’s what happens in each book, including this one, which had a Nov. 3 release.

First, a refresher of Following the Lead’s plot: Isabel’s old boss, Lin Pierce was a boy when his baby sister was abducted from the front yard and never found. He was supposed to be watching her but he got distracted. Lin hopes Isabel can bring closure and perhaps find his sister.

So who’s and what’s new? We do get see a different side to Lin, who hired Isabel in the second book at the ridiculous rate of a buck a day. But it was an arrangement that was OK because Isabel had to work for a licensed P.I. for three years before she could strike out on her own. In Following the Lead, we meet Lin, the distraught and hopeful brother.

We also get to know his parents, Ben and Jessica Pierce. Ben we know under his alias, the Bald Old Fart. The abduction of their daughter severed that marriage. Ben also had issues with his son, blaming him and his ex-wife for the baby’s abduction. But he goes along with Isabel taking on this case because he knows her from her visits to the backroom of the general store where the Old Farts gather.

Jessica is less enthused. A musician, at the time she was giving a lesson to a student who would later go onto to be a well-known pianist. She is a bit uneasy about Isabel’s line of questioning, actually more than that, but I won’t spoil what happens there.

Then, there is the well-known musician, Tim Robert Todd. He’s retired now and happens to live in Caulfield near Gary and Larry Beaumont. Isabel believes he’s key to the investigation but has a hard time meeting him. For much of the book, his reputation precedes him, but that changes dramatically.

Then, there’s the person responsible for stealing Baby Elizabeth, as she became to be known. Like the musician Tim Todd, they are part of this mystery’s unfolding. Of course, there are sources Isabel meets like two former neighbors.

Here’s an excerpt. Isabel and her mother, her partner in solving crimes, are meeting with Lin Pierce at his home. He reveals his father is Ben Pierce, aka the Bald Old Fart and the strife his sister’s abduction created for the family.

And now that Lin has shared that information, I see the family resemblance in the facial features between the two men although Lin still has some hair and the Bald Old Fart, one of the older members of the group, is heavier. I wonder if he has an inkling his son wants me to pursue this case because he was oddly quiet during my last visit to the store’s backroom. I don’t go every week, just when I need their help with a case or for a little local levity. 

“I do know your father. Is he aware you want to solve this case about your sister?”

“Let’s say my father and I aren’t very close, but I told him. I felt I had to. Besides, he may have useful info he hasn’t shared with me. At first, Dad wasn’t happy about it, but he changed his mind when I told him it would be you. He said he was impressed how you handled your other cases.”

“That’s nice of him.”

“Oh, and just so you know, I paid for one of the services where they use your DNA to tell you about your ancestors.” He frowns. “That didn’t turn up any long lost family members or even the ones I have. But it was worth a shot.”

“Glad you told us that,” I say. “Ma?”

As planned, I let my mother ask a few questions. She reminds him we would need a list of other persons of interest. It gives me the opportunity to think about the Bald Old Fart and how I should handle him. Certainly, the other Old Farts must know his back story since they all grew up in the hilltowns. The Bald Old Fart is married to a local gal, his second wife it seems. He taught math at a local high school and is retired like his backroom pals. If my memory serves me better, I believe my son, Alex, the engineer had him in class. Maybe even my daughter, Ruth. Matt, the heavy equipment operator, didn’t as he went to a vocational high school. I will have to quiz them the next time we are together although Ruth won’t like it that I took another case. She worries about my safety too much. Alex and Matt? They actually think it’s cool their mother is a P.I. Thank you, boys.

“That must have been hard on you as a young boy,” I hear my mother say. “I take it your parents didn’t have another child.”

“No, they didn’t. My father didn’t when he got remarried. My mother never married again. Once was enough. And, yes, it was hard on me as a kid. Really hard.” He clears his throat. “I heard it over and over from my father. Why did I have to leave my sister to go chase a stupid dog? Why didn’t I check with my mother to make sure she had her? Why did I make a big fuss when she asked me to watch her? The list goes on. I tell myself I was only eleven. Just a boy. Dad has tried to make it up to me in his way. Sometimes it helps.” He looks at me directly. “Here’s why I am hiring you. I want to know for sure what happened to my sister. If she’s alive, I want to meet her, to tell her about her real family. If she isn’t, I want to grieve for her like a brother would.”

“You mention in your notes about meeting a woman you thought could be your sister. I saw the photo you took of the woman at Luella’s. But I couldn’t make out her face very well.”

“Unfortunately, that was the best I could do under the circumstances. Plus, it was a piece of crap phone.”

My mother speaks, “What features did she share with your mother?”

“The eyes definitely. One was blue and the other brown, a trait on my mother’s side that unfortunately I didn’t inherit. And the long nose. She had what I would call an elegant face. When you meet my mother, you will understand.” 

As I jot down that detail, I have to ask the all-important question.

“Does your mother know that you want to hire me to investigate this case?”

“Yes, we’ve talked it over. She’s fine with it.” He pauses. “But she wants to meet you and your mother alone the first time without me. I understand. I believe she’ll be more comfortable talking with you than me. Maybe there are things she doesn’t want me to know. I’ve tried in the past but she pushed me aside. Too much pain, I believe. I was surprised she didn’t resist when I brought it up recently. She, of course, knew of your success. That won her over.”

“When can we meet her?”

“She mentioned Wednesday. I’ll give you her number before you leave, so you can set up a time.”

I glance at my mother, who gives me a nod. A day of surprises for certain.

“Yes, that would work for us.”

“I will let her know.” He finishes his glass of water. “So, how would you two like to go for a ride? I’d like to show you my old neighborhood.”

“Please do,” I say. “I did bring a copy of that map you gave me.”

Lin nods.

“Too bad someone with your brains wasn’t investigating this case when it happened.”

My mother speaks up.

“Yes, it is.”

LINK: Thank you for those readers who have already downloaded Following the Lead. Here is the link to buy it on Amazon: https://mybook.to/followingthelead Paperbacks will be out soon.

PHOTO ABOVE: Saw this birdhouse on a recent walk. The hole wasn’t big enough for whatever bird wanted to nest there so it did a renovation.


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Isabel Long Mystery Series

Now for Following the Lead

Today’s the day, Nov. 3, for Following the Lead — the next book in my Isabel Long Mystery Series. Readers who have been following Isabel for five cases can now join her for the sixth.

I decided to throw Isabel into a really challenging case this time. After all, it’s been almost a year since she started her first in Chasing the Case. That’s when she decided to find out what happened to a woman who disappeared 28 years ago. Both women lived in the same town and the disappearance was Isabel’s first big story as a rookie reporter. Since then she’s investigated the deaths of a junkyard owner, a poetry-writing highway worker, the owner of a small town newspaper, and the beloved grandson of a poor, distraught woman.  

But this case is different. It involves a baby who was abducted 50 years ago and never found. Lin Pierce, Isabel’s former boss, was just a boy when that happened as his mother was giving a music lesson in their home. He believes he might have met his sister. The woman did look a lot like his mother and shared a distinctive family feature — different colored eyes.

Now, Isabel isn’t going to let something like 50 years stop her from taking this case. Besides, she has her mother Maria, who is 93, to help her. 

Of course, I make sure Isabel encounters danger actually from two sources. But I will let you read about that. Does she find Lin’s sister? Mum’s the word.

When I wrote Chasing the Case, I didn’t anticipate I would create a series. But I got easily hooked by the mystery genre. And frankly, the positive feedback I’ve received has been so encouraging — so thank you readers. I love reading a good series. I like even better creating one. This is the second book in the series released this year. And, yes, I’ve begun the next. You’ll be hearing more about it in the future.

Also a series enables me to hold onto my characters, good and bad, who are very real to me. I used to be a big day dreamer. Now I put those skills to use writing.

In writing this series, I was mindful that I wanted each to stand on its own in case it was the first book a reader picked up. So, I don’t do much rehashing from the previous books although I do include hints and coded references. I try to develop each character and their description as if this was on the only book I wrote.

The same goes for those readers who have been following the series. I want these readers to feel like insiders.

I hope you will enjoy reading Following the Lead as much as I did writing it. 

LINK: Following the Lead is now available on Kindle. Soon it will be in paperback. Here’s the link to Amazon: https://mybook.to/followingthelead

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Following the Lead

My Bad Beaumont Brothers

Of course, I am writing about Gary and Larry Beaumont, two characters in the Isabel Long Mystery Series. I’ve kept them through the most of the series because despite their feral tendencies, I’ve grown fond of them. So has Isabel Long. They are back in the next, Following the Lead, which has a Nov. 3 release.

Gary is the alpha brother. Larry, not the sharpest tool in the shed, does whatever he says. They tend to wear shirts advertising alcohol and both have mullets. They live in a dump of a house with a stash of junked metal in the front yard.

The Beaumonts make their living selling drugs and because of it, they were banned for life from the Rooster Bar and Grille, where Isabel tends bar on Friday nights. Jack, the owner, wouldn’t have them back because they were dealing in the parking lot. I can’t blame him.

The Beaumont brothers joined the series in Redneck’s Revenge, book no. 2, as unlikeable suspects who terrorize Isabel in the case involving the death of a junkyard owner. Hmm, perhaps drugs discovered in one of the vehicles had something to do with it. 

In the next, Checking the Traps, Gary hires Isabel to investigate the death of his half-brother Cary, who supposedly jumped off a bridge known for suicides. Isabel and her mother, her partner in crime, get to know the brothers up close and personal.

The brothers were not raised in the best of family situations. Isabel is also privy to a secret about Gary: in high school, he fathered Annette Waters’ son Abe. Annette aka the Tough Cookie doesn’t ever want him to know. (By the way in Working the Beat, no. 5, Gary and Annette compete against each other in a demolition derby.)

There are a few incidents when Gary and Larry actually come to Isabel’s rescue. That’s when she finally convinces Jack to let them come back to the Rooster on probation. He doesn’t like it but he loves Isabel too much to deny her.

So what are the Beaumont Brothers up to in Following the Lead? Well, they happen to live near a person of interest in this case — a famous musician who likes his privacy so much Isabel has a hard time meeting him. This case involves the abduction of a baby nearly fifty years ago. And much later in the book, one of them comes once again to her rescue.

Here’s a scene midway in the book when Isabel and her mother visit Gary and Larry.

A dog barks and paws at the front window of Gary and Larry Beaumont’s house as Ma and I make our way through the junked vehicles and plain old junk to the front door. I swear there is more stuff here than the last time we came earlier this year. That’s when Gary hired me for a case involving his late brother, Cary. On her previous visit here, my mother joked about finding the kitchen sink among this mess. No sinks but I do see an old kitchen stove and washer.

“Those boys really should take care of this mess,” my mother says with a click of her tongue. “People driving by this place would think it’s abandoned.”

“Perhaps that’s their motivation all along.”

Larry, the beta brother, comes onto the front porch, carrying his little pooch Ricky that was yapping in the window. He walks down the steps to give my mother first dibs to pet the dog, which makes happy little yips. Ricky is one of those terriers whose role here is to make Larry happy and to bark like crazy when anybody shows up. Nobody will be sneaking up at Chez Beaumont.

“Ricky, did you say? He looks like a nice little lap dog,” Ma tells a grinning Larry, who usually isn’t the center of attention. 

“He’s mine. Gary got him for me.”

Gary, definitely the alpha brother, comes through the open door. He wears a Jim Beam tee-shirt, which goes nicely with Larry’s Budweiser shirt, and I have indeed filled that order many times on a Friday night at the Rooster. Both brothers have freshly groomed mullets. They even have shaved. 

“Come on in, ladies,” Gary says. “Would you like some coffee? I made a fresh pot.”

Fresh pot? The last time Ma and I were here we were offered instant coffee, which I can’t tolerate even for a case. The boys are moving up, I’d say. And it appears, they did some cleaning in our honor or perhaps they’ve reformed. Dishes are piled in the sink, but the kitchen is nearly as clean as the one I have home. The rest of the house? I’ve never gone further than the kitchen. I didn’t even want to attempt using the bathroom no matter how badly I needed to go, so I have no clue about the conditions in there. Am I brave enough to use the bathroom this time? We’ll see.

“We’ll take a cup. Right, Ma? Milk if you have it for me. Ma likes it regular, milk and a little sugar.”

Larry chuckles.

“Course, I know what regular means. I’ll let you fix it the way you like.”

Ma nods as she sits. Our aim on these info gathering visits is to make people feel comfortable so they start blabbing without realizing it although by now, the brothers have become somewhat old chums and they know my methods. I smile as I watch Gary pour us coffee and boss his brother around to bring the milk and sugar to the table. Ricky sits in the corner away from their feet.

“You said over the phone you wanted to ask us about that guy Robert who lives near us. What’s that all about?”

I take a sip of coffee, which isn’t half bad, and compliment the boys before I clue them in about the Baby Elizabeth case and how his neighbor might have some involvement. The brothers sit forward as they pay close attention to what I say. 

“Robert appears to be a rather secretive fellow,” I say at the end. “Lucky for us, he turns out to live near you two.”

LINK TO THE BOOK: Following the Lead’s release is only days away on Nov. 3. Here is the link to get yours on Amazon: https://mybook.to/followingthelead Paperback will follow soon.

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: A fall view of my village of Shelburne Falls in Western Mass.

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Darkstroke Books, Isabel Long Mystery Series, Killing the Story

A Peek at Killing the Story

It’s official: Killing the Story, the fourth in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, will officially launch Aug. 21.

Yes, the writing is finished. I did numerous rounds of edits on my own before I sent it to my publishers, Laurence and Steph Patterson of Darkstroke Books for their approval. (Thanks Laurence and Steph.) They, in turn, passed it onto Miriam Drori, who edited the other Isabel Long books. This is a rather international team by the way with the Pattersons, originally from the UK, living in France, and Miriam, in Israel. I, of course, am in the U.S.

Laurence and I are settling on the right image for the cover — in keeping with the theme of the series. Today I sent him the blurb for the back, bio, dedication etc.

So, what’s Isabel Long up to in Killing the Story? Actually, her sidekick, Maria, finds this case while the two of them are attending a raucous open house at the Pit Stop, that gas station/convenient store cousins Annette and Marsha, aka the Tough Cookie and Floozy, own. Emerson Crane, owner of The Observer, a weekly newspaper covering a slew of small towns, wants Isabel to look into the death of his mother, the paper’s former editor. Supposedly she died after slipping on some ice while walking home from the newsroom. But a cryptic note he found suggests that it might not have been an accident after all.

I’ve created new characters and a new setting — Dillard, a town whose best days are behind it. And, of course, I brought along favorites from the other books like Jack, of course, the Old Farts, the lively clientele at the Rooster and the bad boy Beaumont brothers.

It is important to me to maintain continuity for this series. I share just enough info about previous cases without giving them away in case a reader starts in the middle. Plus I love many of my characters too much to let them go.

For the next couple of months, I will be writing more about Killing the Story here. But for this post I give you an excerpt of the very beginning. It starts with the funeral of a good small town police chief, who is definitely a contrast to the one Isabel must contend with as she pursues this case. The chapter is called “Farewell to the Chief.”

We buried the old chief today. Yes, Police Chief Benjamin Hendricks Sr. finally died. I hate to use the word finally, but I’m being a realist here. I believe the same might go for his family, who’s been grieving since Alzheimer’s took away the man we all once knew, a small-town cop who witnessed the dark side of our town and didn’t blab about it. I should know from my reporting days when I practically had to strong-arm the man to get anything from him for a story. He didn’t want people to think unfavorably about the town of Conwell even though he and his officers went to calls where a guy would be beating on his wife or kids. They arrested drunken drivers and went to car crashes when the cops didn’t stop them first. The list goes on.

Yes, crime happens in this hilltown of a thousand people in Western Massachusetts, and the ones around it, but sometimes, the cases go unsolved. That’s my job now that I’m a private investigator. I’m Isabel Long. Glad to meet you. I have three cases under my belt, and I’m looking for another. Know of one?

But back to Chief Ben Sr., the Conwell Congregational Church was packed this Saturday morning with mourners. His large extended family filled several pews up front. His pallbearers were police chiefs from the hilltowns, all in uniform, their faces somber as they honored their late comrade. A double line of other police chiefs and officers followed. I will admit the scene got me teary-eyed, Jack Smith, too, who handed me the handkerchief he had tucked in the back pocket of his dress pants.

Many in the church followed the hearse to the cemetery for his burial, and now we’re in the backyard of his family’s home for food, drink, and reminiscing. I’ve heard good stories about the old chief. I offered mine. My mother decided to skip this event. I told her she’d be missing out on a regular who’s who in law enforcement from the hilltowns. But Ma said she felt funny because she had never met the chief and his family in the short time she’s lived with me. I’m here to represent us both.

So, I came with Jack, who’s off getting us beers from the keg in the garage. He found it a good excuse to duck out and not have to listen to another rehashing of my last case with the Beaumont brothers for the True Blue Rooster Regular standing beside me. I don’t blame Jack. People can’t get enough about this case, and frankly, I can’t say much to satisfy the nosy so-and-sos.

“Come on, Isabel. It’s not like you to hold back,” the True Blue, who is a nephew of the old chief, says. He bends closer and lowers his voice to a soft growl. “I promise I won’t tell anybody.”

Yeah, sure. That’s what he said last night, too, when I was tending bar at the Rooster. He even left two bucks for a tip.

“I told you Gary Beaumont wanted me to find out how his brother, Cary, died, and I did. Nobody’s going to jail for it,” I say. “If you wanna find out more, you’re gonna have to ask him yourself. He’s the one who hired me, and we have an agreement.”

The True Blue frowns.

“Like hell I’d do that. That guy’s an asshole.” He inches closer. “I thought you and me were pals.” 

Pals? Uh, I don’t think so. I just pour the guy beer when he buys it at the Rooster. I’m friendly when I see him, and I’m not going to risk getting on the wrong side of Gary Beaumont for him.

“Sorry. I wish I could, but I can’t. Hey, here comes Jack with my beer.”

Finally, if you are reading this Sunday, June 14 this is the last day Kindle readers can get the firstchasing the case full size book Chasing the Case for free. I have been excited to see so many people download the book and even buy the other two in the series outright. Here’s the link: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6Ws, Author Interview

6 Ws with Author Angela Wren

Angela Wren is the next Crooked Cat Books author to be featured in this 6Ws series. Her new book, Montbel, is the third in her Jacques Forêt Mystery Series, which is set in France .

Why does she write? She says she enjoys creating a world that doesn’t really exist.  “And then, being a crime writer, I get to choose who dies!”

Here are her responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Angela Wren?

Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an actor and director at a local theatre.  I’ve been writing creatively, in a serious way, since 2010. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

What does she write?

Cosy crime novels, mostly.  But, my short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.  The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

When does she write?

Whenever I have a moment.  I spend most of my week at the theatre but that leaves me Sunday to Tuesday to do everything else — including writing — to keep household running.

How does she write?

From keyboard straight onto the electronic page.  Working in a very pressured environment taught me to be very business oriented and efficient with my time.  I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to write — usually when I’m doing really mundane tasks such as the ironing or cleaning the bathroom, or whatever.  This means that when I sit at my keyboard I know exactly what I want to say and my fingers just scramble across the keys to get the words down.

Where does she write?

The smallest bedroom in my house is my office and library.  I have loads of books all over the house but the largest number of them are in my office along with all my notes for stories etc.  My desk faces the window and I can look out on the garden when I pause for a moment.

Why does she write?

Because I love it. To me it’s great fun to be able to create a world that does not really exist and to people that world with interesting, and sometimes evil, characters.  And then, being a crime writer, I get to choose who dies!

More on Montbel:

A clear-cut case?

A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.

When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques’ case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacque’s papers and shut down the investigation.

Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?

Available now to pre-order in e-format and print from Amazon and published by Crooked Cat Books

Her works:

Messandrierre (Jacques Forêt #1)

Merle (Jacques Forêt #2)

Montbel (Jacques Forêt #3)

Anthologies :

Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings

Original Writing from Ireland’s Own 2011

Angela Wren on social media:

Amazon : AngelaWren

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

Contact an author: Angela Wren

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