Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted to welcome Jack Smith to the blog, today. Jack is no stranger to me, as he’s taken a major part in all the Isabel Long mystery novels so far and I’ve been lucky enough to edit them all. Joan Livingston, the author, has done a fantastic job with them, and more is on the way.

Back to Jack, who’s worried about Isabel. He’s the owner of the Rooster Bar and Grille and Isabel works part-time for him. What worries Jack is that Isabel is also using her skills as a former longtime journalist to solve cold cases in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts as a private investigator. Here’s what he’s written to her:

Dear Isabel

I’ve never written a letter to a woman before. But I wanted to get a few things off my chest. Don’t worry, I ain’t breaking up with you, honey. I would lose the best bartender I ever hired if I did that. Yeah, I’m kidding.

The reason I’m writing is that I’m scared to death something bad is going happen to you being a private investigator. In your first case, you got knocked in the head so bad, I had to carry you out of the woods. Remember? Then you broke your collar bone when that ass drove you off the road. I do suspect something really bad almost happened when Gary Beaumont hired you. What really went on at that cliff? I’m guessing you’re holding back some, so I won’t worry about you. You’re right. I’m afraid to hear the whole story.

You’re on your fourth case. I know your mother helps you out, but she can’t be with you all the time. Besides, Marie is 93. What is she supposed to do to save you other than to try talking some sense into you?

Then, there are the characters you meet like that guy Victor Wilson. You and I both know what he’s up to on his property. How about Gary Beaumont and his loser of a brother, Larry? I banned all three of them permanently from the Rooster and for good reason. Now I heard from my cousin Fred you might be dealing with crooked cops. Isabel, what am I going to do with you?

We’ve been together since last November, well, except for a couple of months. I don’t want to get into that. I can say I’m one happy man when we’re together, and I’m not just talking about when we’re in bed. You’re different than the other women I’ve been with. I haven’t told you to your face what you mean to me. I guess I’m kinda shy about that since the only other woman I told that is dead. I don’t have to tell you who that was since she was your first case.

What I can say in this letter is that I understand why you are doing these investigations. You want to help people. I have no power to stop you. I just want you to be more careful although I know you’re as stubborn as hell and that what I say isn’t going to stop you from finding out what went wrong in these towns. I just don’t want you to get hurt. I don’t want to lose you.

Jack

About the Isabel Long Mystery Series

Joan Livingston - Isabel Long Mystery Series

Isabel Long is a former journalist turned private investigator solving cold cases in the rural hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She’s smart, sassy and what the French would call une femme d’un certain age. She works part-time at the Rooster Bar and Grille, where she gets plenty of useful tips for her cases. And she’s lucky to have her savvy 93-year-old mother as her “Watson.”

Her first case was solving what happened to a woman who disappeared 28 years earlier. In her next two cases, she discovers who’s responsible for the death of a junkyard dealer in one and a poetry-writing highway driver in another. Her fourth features a small town newspaper editor and perhaps crooked cops.

Published by Darkstroke Books, the series so far includes: Chasing the Case, Redneck’s Revenge and Checking the Traps. Next up is Killing the Story.

About Joan Livingston

Joan LivingstonJoan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Chasing the Case, Redneck’s Revenge, and Checking the Traps, published by Darkstroke Books, are the first three books in her mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur sleuth. She is in the process of finishing the fourth — Killing the Story.

Her other novels include The Sweet Spot; Peace, Love, and You Know What; and The Cousins and the Magic Fish/Los Primos y el Pez Mágico.

An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and then the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure. Currently, she’s the editor-in-chief of the Greenfield Recorder.

After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long Mystery Series.

For more, visit her website. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Like and follow her author page on Facebook.

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Letters from Elsewhere truly is back for a new series, started last week by Dan, who was brought by Jo Fenton. (Thanks again, Jo.) If you’re an author and you want one of your characters to take part, let me know and we’ll arrange a date.

I will be back later today with news about the coming week. Watch this space…

#SIMTalksWithMiriam

Misunderstandings are often fun… when you look at them from the outside or with hindsight. When they’re actually happening and you’re involved, they can be far from fun. Here’s Joan Livingston, whose third mystery in the Isabel Long series is due out next week (22nd March).

A Dangerous Misunderstanding

Sometimes words get in the way of what people are trying to say. That happens with several of my characters. And because I write mysteries it can get them into trouble.

Joan LivingstonLet me tell you about Isabel Long, the protagonist in my mystery series who is a former journalist turned amateur P.I. solving cold cases. In Redneck’s Revenge, the second in this series, Isabel gets herself into a sticky situation while interviewing Gary and Larry Beaumont in their dump of a home. The brothers are notorious drug dealers and suspects in the death of a junkyard dealer. And Isabel is brave enough to dig deeper in her line of questioning.

Ah, but she hits a nerve because she’s dealing with a couple of hotheads who don’t listen very well. They have a tendency to jump to conclusions. And being new to the P.I. game, Isabel is still learning how to deal with people like the Beaumonts.

Here’s part of that scene from Redneck’s Revenge. She is meeting them at their house.

“If I’m hearing correctly, you two don’t have alibis for that night,” I say. “Right?”

I believe I just stepped into it big time because Gary and Larry’s foreheads clamp so hard their brows hang heavy over their bloodshot eyes. Their lips curl.

Larry slaps his brother’s arm.

“What’s she mean?” he asks.

“It means she’s callin’ us liars,” Gary answers.

I speak up.

“I didn’t call you liars.” I try to make my voice as warm as I can muster given how nervous I am. “What I said is that you can’t account for your whereabouts the night Chet Waters was killed.”

Gary’s fist hits the table.

“You bitch, what makes you think we’d have anythin’ to do with that?”

Yes, Isabel manages to get out of there unharmed, but she is rather shaken because she really felt in danger.

Checking the TrapsI’m not going to spoil what happens later in this book, but fast forward to the third, Checking the Traps. Yes, the Beaumont brothers return. Gary, the alpha brother, wants Isabel to find out what happened to their half-brother, Cary. Did he jump from a bridge known for suicides, or was he pushed, like Gary thinks?

Isabel takes the case, largely because she is interested in the victim, who was a highway worker by day and a poet at night. But she decides to be upfront with the Beaumonts, particularly, Gary, who is the alpha brother. She wants to avoid any misunderstandings this time.

“He was just a regular guy.”

“Uh, Gary, you gotta do better than that. I’m gonna need as much information as possible. By the way, if we proceed, I might ask some tough questions that’ll make you uncomfortable, and I don’t want you getting all pissed off at me like you did once before. Remember?”

Gary puckers his mouth. He’s thinking about that time at his home when he and his brother scared the bejesus out of me because they thought I called them liars. It was a misunderstanding on their part.

“Okay, okay,” he says finally.

Yes, Isabel is learning.

About Checking the Traps

Isabel Long is a bit banged up from her last case with a broken collarbone and her arm in a sling. But that doesn’t stop her from pouring beer at the Rooster Bar or taking her third case with Gary Beaumont, a local drug dealer who once terrorized her. Gary is convinced his brother didn’t jump off a bridge known for suicides. Somebody pushed him.

Gary’s brother was a boozer who drove for a highway crew. But what interests Isabel and her ‘Watson’ — her 93-year-old mother who lives with her — is that the man wrote poetry.

The chief suspects are one of Gary’s business associates and a famous poet who plagiarized his brother’s poetry for an award-winning book. Yes, he was that good.

As a journalist, Isabel did regular meetups with her sources for stories. She called it checking the traps. She does the same as a private investigator, and this time, she’ll make sure she doesn’t get caught in one.

About Joan Livingston

Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Checking the Traps, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the third in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first two are Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge.

An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure. Recently, she was named editor of the Greenfield Recorder.

After living eleven years in New Mexico, she has returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long Mystery Series.

Links to Joan and her Books

Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads

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Is this the last of the series?

There have been some wonderful articles in this series. Some guest posters have opened up on difficult topics. But now, if no one else wants to volunteer, I might close it, either temporarily or permanently. You’re still welcome, however, to suggest a topic for a guest post.

Do you want to write (or talk) about one or more of the SIM topics – Social anxiety, Israel, Misunderstandings? The details are here.