Checking the Traps by Joan Livingston: brisk, clever and very enjoyable


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.


My review

Isabel and her mother are back in action, even though Isabel is still recovering from the last escapade. Her new case is an apparent suicide, and, as we both hope and expect there’s a lot more than initially meets the eye in this investigation. The wonderful ‘Old Farts’ are an invaluable help with their wisdom, nosiness and constructivce cantankerounsess!

The action is brisk and entertaining, the dialogue wonderful and the cast of characters is truly fascinating. Everyone we meet is rounded, and flawed, and as such makes for very convincing company.

There’s plenty of dry humour and excitement, but also a lot of tension and lurking danger. Isabel does tend to go in at the deep end head first without always thinking far enough ahead. However, you have to admire her courage and determination.

Jack is back, adding a touch of romance to the story, as well as a strong and sensible presence to counter the feistiness of Isabela and Maria.

The plot is interesting and original, with some super twists and turns along the way.

Truly enjoyable, fabulous writing. More to come I hope!


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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