Redneck’s Revenge by guest author Joan Livingston
I am delighted to be joined on the blog today by my friend and fellow crime writer Joan Livingston. Her first novel, Chasing the Case, featuring the protagonist Isabel Long is reviewed on this site at https://bookreviewstoday.info/2018/05/30/chasing-the-case-by-joan-livingston/. I enjoyed that book very much and am looking forward to reading Redneck’s Revenge. In the meantime, Joan kindly shares details of her novel now.
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, but no surprise there since his sister turned out to be the killer. 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.
Fussing and Feuding in Redneck’s Revenge
Things can get mighty personal in a small town, where most everybody knows each other and their business. I mean a really small town, like around a thousand people, which is the setting for my Isabel Long mystery series. And a feud figures prominently in the latest, Redneck’s Revenge, which has a Sept. 26 release.
I’ve lived in those kinds of towns. They are the inspired setting for this mystery series and other fiction I’ve written. And, yes, I’ve seen feuds between newcomers and natives, among natives, and even among newcomers. As a reporter, I even covered them.
Feuds can be amusing as long as you’re not an active player in one.
So what sets people off? For neighbors, it’s usually dogs, noise, boundaries, and smells. For all of the others, it could be a deal gone bad, a relationship gone bad, or when somebody makes off with another’s lover. Then there are other forms of bad behavior usually involving extreme flirting or illicit sex.
Who ever says small towns are boring?
My favorite feud was between two neighbors, newcomers and a native, over pigs. One neighbor complained to the other over the smell. What did the pig owner do? He moved the pen closer to the boundary line. This went to a health board meeting I covered as a reporter. The board ruled in favor of the pig owner. I am sure that didn’t help neighborly relations.
So what kind of feud is in Redneck’s Revenge? Try one between two junkyard owners. Actually, Isabel Long, amateur P.I., is hired by a woman to find out how her father, Chet Waters, died. The official word is he was passed-out drunk when his house burned down. She says he was murdered. Chet Waters was a mean S.O.B. who ran a junkyard and garage. (Now his daughter does.) And guess what? One of the suspects in his death is Al Sinclair, who had a junkyard in the neighboring town.
Let’s just say their feud goes way, way back, as Isabel discovers, all the way to high school.
Here’s an excerpt to give you an idea. Isabel and her ‘Watson’ — her 92-year-old mother — interview Al Sinclair.
“Oh, I see where this is goin’. Did Chet piss me off?” His voice has got a tight kink in it. “Sure he did. I had my reasons but not because we both had junkyards. He was a mean son of a bitch.” He glances at my mother. “Sorry, ma’am.”
My mother nods in absolution.
“You said you had reasons.”
“It’s personal.” His chin juts forward. “It happened years ago. End of story.”
I’m remembering what Marsha said. Whatever it was involved somebody’s sister, but Al’s clammed up. I’m just a nosy newcomer to him. Chet’s just a mean son of a bitch.
I glance at my mother, who gives me the slightest shake of her head. She’s telling me to move onto something else. We both know we can find out what did happen elsewhere. I don’t want to lose this guy.
His eyes have a lock on me.
“I will say one more thing, and then we’re done. Once in a while, we’d end up at the same place together. I wasn’t afraid of tellin’ that son of a bitch what I thought of him like the time he cheated my boys when they were playin’ cards. There’s other stuff like that.”
“Yeah, Junior and Roy.”
“How much did they lose?”
“More than they could afford. He even took my father’s gold watch Junior put up. Yeah, yeah, the kid shouldn’t have done that.” He leans over the desk. “The worse part is I think Chet enjoyed it.”
“You’re right about that,” he said. “Eh, I got back at him for that. I told a dealership in the valley Chet was out of business.” He makes a head-shaking laugh. “Somebody new answered the phone, so I pretended I was Chet.” He laughs that way again. “Took Chet a coupla weeks to figure that out. Revenge is sweet.”
I ponder that statement. I’ve witnessed numerous cases where somebody managed to take it out on somebody else. The locals turned it into an art, against each other sometimes, and even against newcomers. Once, the guy who put in the cellar when we were building our house got pissed off because Sam didn’t hire him for a job. Sam wasn’t the general contractor, but Ed didn’t forgive him for that. Sam tried to make it up to the guy by having him do more work at our house. Ed strung us along for months. In the end, we both chalked it up to redneck’s revenge. I’d say Chet and Al were pros at it. As for Ed, we ended up getting somebody else to do the work for cheaper. I say so much for revenge.
“I suppose,” I tell Al.
“His daughter, Annette, thinks somebody killed her father. It could be true, but it wouldn’t have been me. If so, I would’ve done it years ago when I was young and hotheaded. I’ve got too much to lose now. I’ve got family and a business.”
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: