Today’s coffee shop guest is Joan Livingston, author of the Isabel Long mystery series and I have an excerpt from her new book to share with you.
The first book in this series Chasing the Case has received stellar reviews and Rednecks Revenge looks set for the same success. It’s in my Kindle library and I can’t wait to read it.
Chasing the Case is a clever whodunit but what I loved most about it was the characters, especially Isabel’s mother. Joan’s here to talk about the relationship between her main character, journalist-turned-sleuth Isabel Long, and her fabulous sidekick.
Over to you Joan!
Isabel Long’s Watson – her mother
Many sleuths have a sidekick. When I chose one for Isabel Long, the protagonist in my mystery series, I went for someone unusual — her 92-year-old mother, Maria Ferreira. Yeah, she’s Isabel’s Watson. And she’s an important character in the series’ second book, Redneck’s Revenge.
Maria Ferreira, or Ma, as Isabel calls her, is a smart and spunky mystery-loving woman. So is the person who inspired her — my own mother, Algerina Medeiros although she is now 94. Being a big reader and a fan of my books, my mother gave her approval. Yes, my mother is indeed a character in my Isabel Long mystery series.
Both Isabel and her mother, Maria Ferreira are widows. Maria came to live with her in the tiny town of Conwell in Western Massachusetts because both were tired of living alone. Also, Isabel has the most space of her siblings.
It’s been a bit of an adjustment for Maria moving to the sticks, as she calls it. But the town has a library that supplies her with those mysteries and smutty romances she likes. And she’s found a whole different culture in country living.
Maria likes to stay up late reading and watching TV. Being Portuguese, she makes family favorites like kale soup.
She’s also got a lead foot when she’s driving, or as Isabel says, it’s like her mother is driving the getaway car in a bank robbery.
And when Isabel takes on her first case, her mother not only gives her wholehearted support, she goes with her on interviews and shares he insight on leads. She comes up with nicknames for the people she meets like the Tough Cookie and the Floozy.
And she encourages Isabel to continue being a private investigator. Actually, she is just as excited as Isabel when a woman hires her to find out what happened to her father. The official story is that he was drunk and passed out when his house caught fire at his junkyard. His daughter is convinced he was murdered. Suspects include a rival junkyard owner, drug-dealing brothers, and an ex-husband.
I like Maria. She’s got a quick sense of humor. Isabel says she inherited her nosy gene, which came in handy when she was a journalist. Now, it will help her as a P.I.
Redneck’s Revenge, which officially launched Sept. 26, is available in Kindle for £1.99 ($2.99) and paperback £6.99 ($10.99). Here’s the link to Amazon: http://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge
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 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.
Here’s an excerpt from Redneck’s Revenge. Isabel and her mother are coming back from a visit to a licensed private investigator in the town of Jefferson. Isabel found out from the cops she needs to work for one for three years before she can go solo. Her interview with Lin Pierce, a P.I. whose best days are behind him, was a success.
Ma and I don’t stay in Jefferson once my business is done. She informed me this morning another snowstorm is on its way. My mother is the official weather watcher in our household. It’s part of her late-night routine. She plays solitaire on a tablet one of my sisters gave her while the TV is on. She has her shows. I’m in bed long before her, but then again, I’m up at the crack of dawn, a habit I acquired when I worked at the newspaper and just can’t seem to shake even though it’s been nine months since I got the heave-ho. You might’ve heard the story. After a corporation bought the Daily Star, we were supposed to reapply for our jobs. Like hell, I told the publisher, who ended up getting canned later even though he did what the new owners asked.
Besides, I like the quiet that time of day. The dog, Maggie, and cat, Roxanne, hang out with me like we could be best friends, as if that were true. They love Ma better, but, honestly, that’s okay.
“What did you think of Lin Pierce?” I ask her.
“He did what you asked him for.”
“That’s not really an answer, Ma.”
“I was expecting somebody a little more hard-boiled.”
“You mean pickled?”
“No, no, more like Philip Marlowe or Mike Hammer.”
“I think you’re dating yourself there, Ma.”
“I am ninety-two.”
“Don’t remind me.” She’s laughing. “I think he’ll be all right. You just need to be a part of his business and not take any of his cases unless he really needs you. From what you say that doesn’t seem to be a possibility anyways.”
“Now that it’s official, how are you going to get the word out besides telling those Old Farts in the back room.”
I grin hearing Ma call them that name.
“Actually, I believe that will be sufficient to get the ball rolling. I’m not looking to do this full time. As I told Lin, this is more like a paying hobby than a business. I gotta do something to keep me out of trouble.”
My mother snorts.
About the author
An award-winning journalist, Joan Livingston 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, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long series.
Connect with Joan here:
You can buy Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge here: