Joan Long

The Finalist

Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel

Now available in paperback, ebook, and audio

Strangers trapped on a remote tropical island. What could possibly go wrong?

Five authors, each with their own secrets, are chosen to complete a deceased novelist’s unfinished manuscript. For single mom Risa Marr, the competition is the opportunity of a lifetime. At stake is a million dollars and a contract to continue the famous novelist’s bestselling thriller series.

Transported to the tropical paradise of Key Island, the finalists are cut off from the world and given seven days to draft their best ending for the book. But when one of them turns up dead, theories and accusations abound. Accident? Suicide? Or Murder? To what lengths will competitors go to win? And who, if anyone, will leave the island alive?


“I loved it! Masterfully paced with a relatable, resourceful protagonist, a gorgeous tropical setting, and a suspenseful, pulse-pounding ending, The Finalist is a debut novel you do not want to miss.”
—Connie Berry, USA Today bestselling author of The Kate Hamilton Series

“What writer wouldn’t jump at the chance to continue a best-selling author’s legacy, especially if that chance comes with an all-expenses-paid trip to a remote tropical island? But all is not what it seems, as Joan Long proves she has a knack for intricate plotting in this thrilling debut that will keep you guessing till the final pages!”
—Edwin Hill, Agatha- and Edgar-nominated author of The Secrets We Share

“A lush, twisty mystery that marks the debut of a terrific new author. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Ellen Byron, USA Today bestselling author
“An invitation in a bottle, a writing competition, a life-changing prize…. An intriguing mix of suspense, romance, secrets and revenge, this story offers a glimpse into the world of publishing and a cast of quirky, memorable characters—each with something to hide. The heartbeat of this story is Risa, a single mom haunted by loss, who will do anything not to lose her only child.”
—Helaine Mario, bestselling author of the Maggie O’Shea Mystery Series

About Joan

Joan is a third-generation Floridian who writes mysteries and suspense. Her debut novel, The Finalist, was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel.

Joan earned a bachelor’s degree in English/Creative Writing from Florida State University (Go ‘Noles!) and a master’s degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Florida (Go Gators!). She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and The Authors Guild.

She has written for universities, healthcare institutions, a magazine, a public television station, anthologies, and more. Her short story “The Extra Ingredient” is published in the Anthony Award-winning anthology Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible. In addition to being an Agatha Award nominee, she has been a finalist for a Minotaur/Malice Domestic Award for Best First Traditional Mystery Novel and a short-listed finalist in a William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.

On a personal note, Joan once swam in a water-filled sinkhole. She doesn’t recommend it. Later, while learning to water-ski, she fell dangerously close to a congregation of alligators. She doesn’t recommend that either. Creating perilous adventures for fictional characters is much more to her liking.

Joan Long

Author photo credit: S.K.L.

Other Writing

The Malice Domestic anthology series returns with a new take on mysteries in the Agatha Christie tradition—36 original tales with a culinary bent! Joan’s contribution to this Anthony Award winner is “The Extra Ingredient.” The food may be tasty, but all is not well when a teenage hostess and a fair-minded cook match wits in a rural Florida diner.

Buy the anthology:



May 28 – June 1
New York, NY

Aug. 28 – Sept. 1
Nashville, TN

Sept. 26 – 29
St. Petersburg, FL


Email Joan at or use the button below.

Media Downloads

Joan Long
Joan Long
Joan Long: Mystery Most Edible