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 first 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