I’m very excited to welcome Joan Livingston today, all the way from the US to visit my blog in sunny England! Joan is here to discuss the themes of her novels, Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge.
Over to you, Joan…
Theme of Discovery in my Isabel Long mystery series
Discovery. That’s the word that comes to mind when I ponder the theme that link my Isabel Long mystery series — Chasing the Case and the newest, Redneck’s Revenge. Actually, there are two types of discovery, so let me explain.
My protagonist, Isabel is a long-time journalist turned amateur private investigator. So, of course, she wants to discover whodunit in her two cases so far. She uses the skills and experiences she had as a reporter to good use in her investigations. She does her research and follows leads. She interviews people — starting off with a so-called softball question before hitting the person harder.
And Isabel is very good at it. In Chasing the Case, she solves a 28-year-old missing person’s case. In the second, her case involves the death of a junkyard owner who his daughter says was murdered.
But there’s another form of discovery in this series: self-discovery. Isabel is coming off a really bad year when she starts her first case. Her husband died suddenly. Then she loses her job managing a newspaper when it goes corporate. So after giving herself a year to grieve, she’s ready to reinvent herself.
One way is looking at the cold case files she snagged from the newsroom on her last day. And she’s got a ‘Watson’ — her mystery-loving 92-year-old mother — who has come to live with her. Isabel discovers her mother is a great partner in crime — well on the good side of things.
Investigating this case has her out and about, talking with people she knows and getting to know people she doesn’t, especially in her second case which takes her to a rough and tumble hilltown in rural Western Massachusetts, where this series is based.
Then there is Isabel’s self-discovery as a woman. She’s what the French call une femme d’un certain age. Although she loved her husband, it’s time to find some romance and, yes, sex, with a new man. She does unexpectedly with Jack, owner of the Rooster, where she takes a part-time job bartending. But the relationship has its ups and a big down — but I’m not going to spoil it for readers. They’ll have to discover it themselves.
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.
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 longtime 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, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long series.
Joan Livingston on social media:
Book links to Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge: