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Working the Beat by Joan Livingston

I have just recently finished reading the new book by one of my favourite authors, Joan Livingston. I enjoy her Isabel Long series very much. Working the Beat has a slightly different feel to it from the earlier books on the series. Let me tell you about it.

The Blurb

One mystery that leads to another…

Isabel Long stumbles into her next case at a country fair when she is approached by a woman whose grandson’s body was found there four years earlier.

Shirley Dawes took in Lucas Page after his mother had abandoned him, doing her best after failing to protect her own children from her late husband, a no-good abuser. Shirley’s clearly had a hard life although by what people say, she did a good job raising him.

But on a Saturday night, Lucas Page dies in a ravine behind the fair’s demotion derby, and nobody saw what happened. The official ruling was that he slipped and fell.

Once again, Isabel discovers herself drawn to help a desperate person.

When she’s not pouring beer at the Rooster Bar, Isabel is working the beat, a term from her many years as a journalist. That means following a story to the end — talking with the reliable sources she met in her other cases, uncovering secrets, and meeting people of interest, including a few unsavory characters who quickly become suspects. Plus, she can always count on the sage advice of Maria, her 93-year-old mother, her ‘Watson.’

Along the way Isabel finds compelling evidence that Lucas might have a connection to a string of break-ins in the hilltowns — yet another unsolved mystery. Was Lucas part of a ring of thieves? Or was he trying to do the right thing but died as a result of it?

Isabel soon has her hands full with case number five.

The Review

This is the fifth book in Livingston's Isabel Long crime thriller series. The series has been building the characters of isabel, her mother Maria and her boyfriend, Jack since the very beginning. But the main thrust of the stories has always been the crimes that Isabel solves for the members of her community. This novel also allows Isabel to investigate a local mystery.

However, the pace of this book is different. The storytelling is more relaxed and more sophisticated. The reader is allowed to get to know Isabel and Jack and explore their relationship as well as solving the crime along with the characters.

I enjoyed the change of pace and the character development, but did feel that there was less emphasis on the mystery to be solved. Having said that, the book was none the worse for that, just a bit different. There was a warmth and depth to the story that made me feel comfortable and happy. I highly recommend this series of novels and Working the Beat is a fine addition to the books.

The Author

Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Chasing the Case, Redneck's Revenge, Checking the Traps, Killing the Story, and Working the Beat, published by Darkstroke Books, are the first five books 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.

The Links

For more, visit her websites: and

Follow her on Twitter @joanlivingston and Instagram @JoanLivingston_Author. Her author page on Facebook is:

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