I’m very lucky today, as I have another guest on Thursday Themes!
I’m delighted to welcome back Joan Livingston, who has joined me to talk about her latest novel…
Small town life in Isabel Long Mystery Series:
One of the themes in my Isabel Long Mystery Series is small town life. I’m talking about really small towns, a thousand people or less, in rural Western Massachusetts. I got to know this part of the U.S. intimately as a reporter for a local daily newspaper and, of course, from living there. And though the books in my series are fiction, I draw from those experiences to create what I feel are accurate portrayals of how people interact there, including in Killing the Story, number 4, which launches Aug. 26.
First a brief synopsis of Killing the Story: Isabel Long’s on her next case — proving a small town newspaper editor’s death wasn’t an accident after all. Perhaps she was pursuing a story that put her life in danger. The local police chief makes it clear Isabel is not welcome, but then again, he and the victim have a dark history. Could there be a connection? Isabel is about to find out.
So small town life isn’t like what you see in postcards, and that’s what makes it an interesting setting for my series.
For the most part, people, at least in New England, are nosy as all heck. We can’t help it. We know who drives what vehicle, who’s getting divorced or hooking up, and what trouble our neighbors are getting themselves into. Actually, Isabel counts on that kind of behavior because these nosy folks offer her clues, especially the Old Farts, a group of gossipy men who hold court in the back room of the local general store.
Politics is personal in a small town. How can it not be when you pretty know everyone who lives around you? In Killing the Story, the owner of an antique shop sends anonymous letters to the editor of the local newspaper in which he tries to expose the police chief as a corrupt officer. Ah, but his motive is that the chief ran off with his wife.
Then, there’s the potential conflict between natives and newcomers. These towns have their share of families that have been there for generations, like Isabel’s significant other, Jack, and are pretty proud of it even if they don’t have a lot of money. Then there are those, who move there from the big city. Some, like Isabel, embrace the town for what it is and then there are those whose idea of country living conflicts with what is real.
The theme of small town life definitely helps to color my books.
About the book:
An accidental death that was no accident…
For the record, Estelle Crane, the gutsy editor of The Observer newspaper, died after a hard fall on ice. But years later, her son discovers a cryptic note hinting her death might not have been an accident after all.
Was Estelle pursuing a big story that put her life in danger?
That’s what Isabel Long — along with her 93-year-old mother, Maria, her ‘Watson’ — agrees to investigate in Dillard, a town whose best days are in the past.
A former journalist, Isabel follows leads and interviews sources, new and familiar. She quickly finds a formidable threat in Police Chief James Hawthorne, who makes it clear Isabel is not welcome in his town — and who warns her against poking her nose into Estelle’s death.
Of course, that’s after Isabel has discovered the chief’s questionable policing and a troubled history with Estelle that goes way back.
Killing the story means dropping it because there aren’t enough facts to back it up. But Isabel won’t make that mistake. She’ll see this one through to the very end.
Can she uncover the plot that led to Estelle’s murder?
Killing the Story is the fourth in the popular Isabel Long Mystery Series.
Here’s the link to Killing the Story: https://mybook.to/KillingtheStory
About the author:
Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge, published by Crooked Cat Books, are the first two books in her mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur sleuth.
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 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.
Social Media links: