23 March 2019

Checking the Traps by Joan Livingston Spotlight! @joanlivingston @rararesources

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.
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Read an Excerpt
Checking the Traps: Excerpt By Joan Livingston
This is how Checking the Traps starts: Isabel Long is banged up from her second case, but she’s not about to let a broken collarbone stop her from working part-time at the Rooster, the only bar in this one-stoplight town. And it surely won’t prevent Isabel from taking her third case. In this excerpt, I try to bring readers up to speed on what happened to my amateur P.I. without spoiling it for those who haven’t read the second book, Redneck’s Revenge. Since the mystery is written in first-person, present tense, I believe readers can easily get a sense of Isabel’s personality.

It’s Friday night at the Rooster Bar and Grille, and I’m behind the bar taking care of business with my one good arm. The other is in a sling. A broken collarbone and a few badly bruised ribs are souvenirs from my second case, that and the satisfaction I nailed the bastard who ran my car off the road. I’m right-handed, and luckily, my injuries are on my left side, so it’s a piece of cake, really, snapping the caps off Buds with the opener mounted on the back of the counter. I only need one arm to reach for beers in the cooler and drop empties into the carton below. I’m not able to deliver food or clean tables, but then again, I have a very understanding boss. You remember Jack Smith, don’t you?
Besides, my getup is a conversation starter here at the town of Conwell’s only drinking establishment. The Rooster’s True Blue Regulars, of course, are all aware of what happened two weeks ago, but being nosy New Englanders, they prod me for details. They can’t get enough of the story. I gladly accommodate them. They’re friendly guys and good tippers.
“Isabel, how fast were you goin’ when Pete hit the back of your mother’s car?” one guy asks when I hand him his beer.
“Last I looked it was eighty.”
“Damn. On that road? You and Barbie were lucky you didn’t get yourselves killed.”
Uh, that might have been Pete Woodrell’s intention when he tailed us in his pickup. His wife, Barbie, was terrified and screaming beside me in the front seat. I didn’t blame her. I felt like screaming, too, but I had to pay attention to the road.
Hold on a minute. I have a line of customers stacking up. The dinner crowd has come and gone, or come and stayed if they’re making a night of it. The kitchen is closed, and I hear Carole, the cook, cleaning inside. The Back Door Men, tonight’s band, are hauling their instruments and speakers through the side door. There’s a full house tonight, which makes Jack, who owns the joint, one happy man.
Being the start of April, the snowmobiles are gone because the snow is pretty much gone. We are in the thick of mud season, at least on the back roads, so the Rooster’s floor is getting awfully gritty. That’s okay. The Rooster is almost a shack in the woods, no frills, except for the large-screen TVs for sports games mostly, the jukebox, and thankfully, a clean women’s room. Jack told me he’s getting ready to spruce up the bar’s interior with some fresh paint and a new toilet in the men’s room. He couldn’t recall the last time the Rooster was painted, oh, maybe when he first bought the place. As for the men’s room toilet, it’s probably an original.
“What’ll it be tonight, Luke?” I ask the guy in front of me as if I don’t know what he’ll order.
“Make it a Bud.”
I reach inside the cooler.
“You sure? We do have a fine selection of beers on tap.”
He smiles to himself as he reaches into his back pocket for his wallet. Most folks here pay cash for their drinks and meals although Jack started taking credit cards years ago.
“You think the murder charges will stick?” he asks.
I smile to myself, too.
“I sure as hell hope so.”
Jack raises his tray of empties while he maneuvers through the crowd. His eyes meet mine as he steps closer. Yeah, he’s grinning.
Sometimes I forget what a good-looking guy Jack is. He’s got a square jaw and brown eyes on the large size. He’s a big bear of a guy who jokes about his weight. His hair is mostly dark even though he’s in his sixties, and it’s not dyed, I know for certain. That’s not Jack’s style.
“You sure you’re okay, Isabel?” he asks when he drops the tray on the counter.
“I’m doing just fine, boss. Right, boys?” I ask the men sitting at the bar.
The drinkers bob their heads.
“Yeah, Isabel is putting on quite a show for us,” one of them says.

Author Bio
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.
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 mystery series.
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Twitter: @joanlivingston 

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