Killing the Story by Joan Livingston

Killing the Story by Joan LivingstonKilling the Story by Joan Livingston
Series: Isabel Long Mysteries #4
Published by the author on August 26, 2020
Source: Rachel's Random Resources
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 273
Format: eBook
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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?

Isabel Long is a former journalist who now works as a private investigator. Both jobs play to her strengths; she’s curious, tenacious, tough, and determined. This is the first of the series that I’ve read, but it worked fine as a stand alone. Isabel is hired to investigate the death of a local newspaper editor whose death was originally ruled an accident.

I liked Isabel. She’s older than most of the main characters in mysteries I read, especially the women. She’s probably in her late 60s, has silver hair, but she’s smart and funny and attractive. Her mom is her sidekick and the interactions between the two are well-done. They have a close relationship but they both realize the other is strong and smart and capable. Isabel doesn’t have to hide anything from her. Isabel has a boyfriend who manages to worry about her without being over-protective.

There are several reasons to believe that Estelle’s death was not an accident and a few suspects, including a maybe dirty cop. I thought the killer was a little obvious, but that didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the book. The small town felt real, with the people and their secrets and the “everybody knows everybody else’s business.”

The story was told in the first person and well-written. The clues made sense and I liked how the loose ends were tied up at the end. My one gripe – and it really annoyed me – was how often the main character giggles. Grown women just don’t giggle that often. They laugh, cackle, snort, snicker, but they don’t giggle. Giggling should be reserved for teenage girls.

About Joan Livingston

Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Killing the Story, published by Darkstroke Books, is the fourth in her Isabel Long Mystery Series, featuring a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. solving cold cases in rural New England.
She draws upon her own experience as a longtime journalist in Massachusetts and New Mexico to create Isabel Long, a sassy, savvy widow who uses the skills she acquired in the business to solve what appears to be impossible cases. She also relies on her deep knowledge of rural Western Massachusetts, where she lives, to create realistic characters and settings — from country bars (where Isabel works part-time) to a general store’s backroom where gossipy old men meet.
She credits her mother, Algerina — the inspiration for Maria, Isabel Long’s ‘Watson’ — for instilling in her a love of reading and the power of the written word.

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