Guest Chick: Jean Rabe

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.

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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!**

44 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Jean Rabe

  1. Thanks so much for visiting Chicks today, Jean! What a great post—your books are new to me and sound fantastic. I own a pair of silver Birkenstocks but I admit to cheating—I buy a new pair every 2 years. I do have stuff I can’t bear to part with due to “memories.” Mine, my kids’, my parents’. It just lives in my closet(s). I have a favorite dress I wore for a New Year’s Eve party in the 80s. It fits again, yay! And yes, Marie Kondo has been calling.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I loved reading all about your sprinkles and how they are incorporated into your books and characters. If we ever got a dog, I would love to get a Boston Terrier, I think they are adorable… but our four cats don’t want us to get a dog. 😉
    I don’t have something so old and comfortable, but my husband does. He has a sweatshirt with giant holes around the cuffs and a big hole in the elbow. He also has a couple of T-shirts with holes in the stomach area and on the arm…. I keep hoping the washer will “kill” his shirts off, but no such luck.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ha, those fave hubby shirts/sweatshirts *never* die!!! Even the ones that have become lawn-mowing/leaf-raking/boat shirts. They refuse to live in the back of the closet, too.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Big congrats, Kim–You are Jean’s lucky winner of a signed Piper Maxwell book, your choice! We’ll contact you directly asap with details.

      Like

  3. Welcome, Jean! Nobody in my immediate circle sends out actual Christmas cards, but I do have one friend who has a professional photographer take her family’s picture every year. They mail those out instead (sometimes post-Christmas, depending on how busy they are). The only note is a generic one printed next to the photo, but I love getting them simply to watch her children grow over the years. Thanks for sharing your series with us!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I love those annual family photos from friends, too! And they get extra points from me, because it has sadly been a long time since we’ve sent cards. It’s always “next” year. This year, though, I’d say we’ll have plenty of time to prepare them. (My fave cards, though? Our own Vickie Fee’s classic movie cards, starring Vickie and her hubby through the magic of PhotoShop. I keep every one.)

      Liked by 6 people

      1. I never send anything either, Lisa, which makes it doubly nice when I receive something. I don’t even bother pretending I’ll get around to it next year. Maybe we could convince Vickie to send cards on our behalf. She’s obviously more ambitious than either of us!

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Marla, some people make fudge or hand-made ornaments — printing our own cards is our annual holiday project. And usually very last minute!

        Liked by 5 people

      3. I quit sending out holiday cards when my kids quit doing adorable things. Who wants to get a note that says, “Jessie has been busy flopping on the couch reading, while Adam spends his time lounging around reading, and Jeff keeps us all on our toes by not tripping over him while he’s reading.” Yawn.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. LOL, about the Christmas cards. I always think the same thing–really? You go to all this trouble and then all I get is a lousy signature? At least include one of those mimeographed letters with stories about all the kids…

    As for things I can’t get rid of, I do have a fleece sweater so full of holes it barely keeps out the cold anymore, but I can’t seem to throw it out. It’s what a wear while I write (I’m wearing it now). And I do wear it when walking the dog…

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Jean, and congrats on the new book! Yippee!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ya know, I could never get rid of favorite old sweatshirts … refused to part with them. But then I started using them in the bottom of dog crates. The sweatshirts got new life, and I got comfy dogs.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jean, thanks for visiting the Chicks today and congrats on the new book! I’ll admit I have a couple of T-shirts too ratty to wear in public — but I just can’t bring myself to throw them out!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thanks for being with the Chicks today, Jean! Congrats on your book and series!

    I admit to keeping old customized T-shirts around because of sentimental reasons. (One even shrank in the wash, so I had to pass it along to the kids!)

    As for shoes, I keep those around for a while, too. However, after I had some sandals go kaput on me, I’ve kept a spare in my car trunk just in case.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I mentioned my 17-year-old Birks … I also have a pair of 25-year-old Birks — really, they’re my fancy ones and so I don’t wear them often. I also have ancient tennis shoes that have not yet given up the ghost.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jean, it’s so nice to see you here. I have a college nightgown that’s so tattered I don’t dare wear it anymore for fear it will disintegrate (my college days are LONG past). It lives on in a plastic bag.

    I appreciate the impersonal Christmas cards giving you writing ideas. I get those cards as well and just shake my head.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I have some flip flops I should replace, but they are so comfy. And I have sandals that aren’t that comfy but are falling apart. I don’t want to replace them right now, but I need to replace them by next summer for sure.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ve had the best luck shopping for my sandals on the internet. Birks are sooooooo expensive in the U.S. But if you buy from the German manufacturer, they cost about one-third of the price. You just have to be willing to wait two months to get them. And getting a pair of Birks for $45 is worth a two-month wait. I wear a 17-year-old pair right now … but I also have a 25-year-old pair of dress Birks sandals in the closet. Worth every penny.

      Oh … and I have a character named Mark the Shark in my second Piper book.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. That’s so funny you asked that question today, Jean, because yesterday I cleaned out my closet and found an old summer knock-around dress. It’s made out of jersey and was originally floor-length. The more I wore it, the longer it got. So much so that I was tripping on it on the stairs. So I whacked off a few inches from the bottom. Yesterday when I tried it on I remembered what an unflattering length I whacked it to so I whacked it again, thinking it would be cute and comfy at knee length. And it would have been. But I whacked it to about the middle of my thigh. Still cute and comfy, but absolutely not fit for public consumption! Guess what I’m wearing RIGHT NOW??

    Congrats with all your writing, and fingers crossed for those Birkenstocks!

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Welcome, Jean, and congrats on the series!

    I have an ancient Led Zeppelin shirt that’s torn, stained with Taco Bell sauce, and several sizes too small that I can’t bear to part with.

    As far as comforting articles, that would have to be my Oofos sandals. They’re rubbery orthotic shoes that I can’t/won’t stop wearing. Fancy dress? Oofos. Pantsuit for work? Oofos. They’re just so dang comfy!

    Thanks again for visiting and sharing those sprinkly insights!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have a 20-some-year-old Blue Dragon sweatshirt I bought in the dealer’s room of Gen Con. I was going to give it to my hubby one Christmas, but I fell in love with it. It is still on MY side of the closet.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. A flannel shirt I bought over 20 years ago…I can’t fit into it anymore…it would make great material for a quilt. However, I can’t seem to get up the courage to do it. You never know I just might lose that weight 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kathy, did you ever see the Peanuts casrtoon where Lucy told Linus she had a plan to solve his blanket attachment—to snip it down, one square at a time? He defended it with his life, lol, telling her it would “bleed,” lol.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I had a flannel shirt like that, kept it around, kept it around … ended up putting it in one of my dog’s beds … and she enjoyed it for many years. And this spring I bought me a new flannel shirt!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Okay, chiming in really late, but I just had to let you know… Today I threw out an old pair of Birkies. A pair from a long string of them. For many many years, I walked through pair after pair of them, summer and winter. (Yes, with socks.) Until, finally, they turned against my feet. I love them, always did, but somehow, I have finally had to let them go. :^(((

    Liked by 1 person

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