Lisa here, and I’m so happy to introduce Jean Rabe, author of the just-pubbed THE DEAD OF JERUSALEM RIDGE, as our Guest Chick today! Jean has also been kind enough to offer our readers a chance to win a signed copy of one of her books, Winner’s Choice. ***MONDAY UPDATE: Jean’s lucky winner is: Kim Heniadis!*** Take it away, Jean!
SPRINKLES ON THE FICTION FROSTING
My Birkenstock sandals are seventeen years old and I don’t wear them in public. I’m not ashamed of them, though they look rather raggedy, with bits of cork coming loose; I’m afraid they’ll fall apart and leave me shoeless in the Walmart aisles. I don’t go out often, especially with this Covid situation, and so I happily wear them every day. Soooooooo comfortable. Soooooooo hoping they hang together for another year. I have two more pairs in my closet, one I every-once-in-a-while-but-actually-rarely wear in an effort to break them in, another in a box on the shelf for when these finally give up that proverbial ghost.
I put Piper Blackwell in Birkenstock sandals when she’s got a day off. I figure she’d find them comfy, too.
I like Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books, and so Piper reads them. I loved Lennie Briscoe on Law & Order, and so Piper occasionally references him. She’s a lousy cook and relies on Tombstone pepperoni pizza … ditto. She treasures dogs and cats and isn’t savvy with social media … ditto again. I sprinkle bits of “me” into her character. But she’s only twenty-three, and I passed that precisely forty years ago. Her Chief Deputy Oren Rosenberg qualifies for senior discounts … and so I sprinkle a little of “me” into him, too. And I let him say the things I’m thinking.
I’m a gamer and a geek … hence the sheriff department’s first-shift dispatcher fits into those categories. I wear odd clothes and recently dyed my hair fuchsia for not much reason other than that the box was on sale at Amazon for $6 … the night dispatcher has similar tastes.
Piper accepts and embraces the quirkiness of her crew.
Piper Blackwell was born because I was upset with friends who would send me beautiful Christmas cards, some with gold-foil envelopes and extra postage, and only sign their names. No note. Not even a few words. No scrawled Happy Holidays, Feliz Navidad, or Take Care. Just their names. I figured if I was a serial killer looking to build a hit list I might go after people who only bother to sign their name to cards. That was the focus of the first Piper mystery, The Dead of Winter. I had thought it would be a one-off, but so many readers liked it and asked for more, that I kept writing … THE DEAD OF NIGHT, THE DEAD OF SUMMER, and – just pubbed on July 15th – THE DEAD OF JERUSALEM RIDGE. I suppose I should mull over plots for THE DEAD of Something Else.
All because of Christmas cards. Cool beans, as the saying goes.
A dog or two, and Piper’s cat Marmalade, make an appearance in each book. Her dog is old, her father’s dog is getting up there, too. But they won’t die in my books. I kill human characters. The dogs are safe. I treasure dogs so much I feel compelled to sprinkle them in my fiction.
I have three, all wrapped around my chair as I type this … a Labrador named Fable that my husband got from a farm a couple of hours south of here and is now drooling on my seventeen-year-old sandals; a Boston Terrier named Missy from a nearby rescue group; and a one-eyed pug puppy named Hunny that was a breeder-surrender and came from the same rescue. Wrinkles, the pug in my Piper novels, was based on my best friend who passed away in 2019. I still miss him terribly. I also have a miniature macaw named Trouble and an old pleco I never named; neither of them appeared in a book and likely aren’t liable to.
I sprinkle in odd laws I discover that are still on the books in Indiana. One involving alcohol is woven into the heart of JERUSALEM RIDGE’s hate crime. I add a dash of music I like on the fictional jukebox. And in this book, I also sprinkled in cars I’d either like to drive or that I saw on an episode of American Pickers.
I really like sprinkles.
About THE DEAD OF JERUSALEM RIDGE:
Sheriff Piper Blackwell’s three-day vacation with old Army buddies ends in tragedy. At the same time, a vile hate crime along a county road enrages her department.
Their forces divided, Piper and her deputies must solve both cases before tensions boil and threaten the rural fabric of Spencer County, Indiana. Only eight months on the job, the young sheriff must weave together clues to uncover both a killer and a secret that could scar her soul.
“Rabe once again mixes the most colorful parts of a cozy mystery with the grittiness of suspense in THE DEAD OF JERUSALEM RIDGE, launching Piper Blackwell into the most personal, and potentially heartbreaking, intrigue of her career. Don’t start this story if you need to be up early the next morning!”
—Janet Walden-West, GRW Maggie winner and author of The South Beach Series
“Jean Rabe weaves a deceptively staid tempo of a tale in this new Sheriff Piper Blackwell novel that barrels into a starkly taut murder mystery. The main plot, supported by a riveting subplot, is masterly crafted with an intriguing cast of characters, a unique setting, and an ending that feels like a double sucker punch!”
⸺Khaled Talib, author of the highly praised thriller, GUN KISS
“THE DEAD OF JERUSALEM RIDGE had me hooked from page 1. The characters were so real it felt like they could walk right off the page. Warning, once you start it’s next to impossible to stop reading until you reach the perfectly-crafted ending.”
⸺Angela Crook, author of FAT CHANCE and CHASING NAVAH
About the Author:
USA TODAY Bestselling author Jean Rabe has written more than forty novels, most of them in the fantasy and sf genres. Mysteries are a relatively new endeavor, but one she’s decided to thoroughly embrace. She’s published more than one hundred short stories, has edited a couple dozen anthologies, and has edited more magazine issues than she cares to count. In 2019 she won the adult division of the Illinois Author Project Soon to be Famous Award for her novel The Bone Shroud. When she isn’t writing or editing, she tosses tennis balls to her cadre of dogs, and reads thrillers on her dumpy, but wonderful, back porch.
I have a newsletter filled with tidbits about my dogs, upcoming books, reviews of things I’m reading, and writing advice. You can subscribe here.
Speaking again of my seventeen-year-old sandals: Do you have something you wear and refuse to part with because it is out of fashion or falling apart? A comforting article that is good for your soul and sanity? Let me know in the comments for a chance to win a signed copy of (winner’s choice): THE DEAD OF JERUSALEM RIDGE, THE DEAD OF NIGHT, or THE DEAD OF SUMMER. **UPDATE: Winner chosen at random is Kim Heniadis–Congratulations, Kim!**