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.
Let 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.
I’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
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.