Today I have an extra special guest post because it includes a little excerpt too, as well as this there is an international giveaway.
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 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.
There’s a Bar in Every Mystery
One constant is my adult fiction is that each one has a bar. Make that two in my new mystery, Redneck’s Revenge, the second in the Isabel Long mystery series.
The rural hilltowns of Western Massachusetts are the setting for this series. I am talking about populations of around a thousand people. Many of them are one-store, one-school, one-church, and one-bar kind of towns. For many small rural towns, bars are gathering spots for the locals. That’s certainly true of Conwell, where Isabel Long, the series’ protagonist lives. The local watering hole is called the Rooster Bar and Grille.
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 food Thursdays through Sundays. There’s a jukebox and televisions, so customers can watch sports.
In the first book, Chasing the Case, Isabel takes a part-time job bartending at the Rooster because many of the people who are connected to her first case are regulars. By the way, she is a journalist turned amateur P.I. She knows how to get to the source.
At the start of Redneck’s Revenge, she’s lost that job — and her romance with Jack — for reasons I won’t divulge here. (Don’t worry. She finds a way to get both back.) For her second case, a woman hires her to find out how her father died. The cops say he was passed-out drunk when his house caught fire. She says he was murdered.
Baxter’s is the other bar in Redneck’s Revenge. It’s a biker bar, and Dave, the owner, isn’t so particular who drinks there. In fact, many of the people who got kicked out of the Rooster are customers. Isabel goes to Baxter’s a few times because two suspects — drug-dealing bad-boy brothers — are regulars.
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. It’s a great place to people-watch.
In this excerpt, Isabel is visiting Baxter’s for the first time. She is there with two cousins, one of whom has hired her for her second case. Annette doesn’t believe her father died accidently in a fire when he was too drunk to get out. She says he was murdered.
I glance around the barroom. It’s three times the size of the Rooster, with a long bar on one side and an actual stage. Tables border the dance floor on three sides. It’s dark inside except for the wide-screen TVs lit over the three shelves of booze behind the bar. The clientele is on the rustic side, which I expect and enjoy. Frankly, as a reporter and a denizen of the hilltowns, I found the natives often more interesting than the white-collar folks who commuted to the city.
That’s when I notice the beer cans. Everybody who doesn’t have a mixed drink has a can of Bud or whatever. The woman who took our order is carrying a tray of them.
“No beer in bottles here?” I ask my companions.
“Nah, it’s safer with cans,” the Floozy says. “Even the glasses are plastic. I’d say that was being real smart with this crowd.”
I hand the bills to the waitress.
“Keep the change,” I say, remembering the buck-a-round-rule at the Rooster.
The cousins are gabbing about the men, which ones are decent looking and who’s available for a roll in the sack. They appear to like men with hair and a steady job, which is a sound idea, or as Annette puts it, “I don’t want some guy spongin’ off of me. Did that. Won’t do it again.” They also don’t like guys with big beer bellies or steady girlfriends and wives. No sloppy seconds, the Tough Cookie says.
“What about you?” Annette asks with a grin. “See anybody here you might be interested in?”
“Me? I really haven’t checked out the men,” I say.
“Well, that guy over there is sure givin’ you the eye. See him over there next to the juke? He’s one of those silver foxes.”
If you like the sound of that then you’ll want to enter the giveaway to win…
Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Redneck’s Revenge, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the second in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a long-time journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first is Chasing the Case.
An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and most recently the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.
After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, Joan returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long series.