Excerpt and Giveaway: The Bone Shroud by Jean Rabe

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What it’s about:

Irem Madigan’s wedding trip to Rome turns into a desperate search for an archaeological prize, and a struggle to stay ahead of a killer.
Set in and under Rome, The Bone Shroud is a love story wrapped in a perilous relic-hunt.
Irem flies to Italy to be the “best man” in her brother’s wedding. He’s marrying an archaeologist bent on revealing the graves of some famous ancient dead. Irem, an archivist at the Chicago Field Museum, becomes obsessed with the centuries-old mysteries.
Unfortunately, Irem discovers there are other players in the game, and some of them are playing deadly. Can she survive and uncover the ancient secrets?

“Intrigue, romance, and danger amid the relics of Rome’s storied past, with compelling characters and building tension that will keep you turning pages!” Gail Z. Martin, bestselling author of Vendetta

“Strong characters, shady dealings, ruthless villains, a beautiful setting, an ancient mystery–The Bone Shroud has ’em all. Don’t miss it!” New York Times bestselling Richard Baker, author of Valiant Dust

Purchase links:  Amazon Kindle | Amazon Print

Excerpt:

Everything would be simple if she’d instead spent her vacation with Rowan and one or two others in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, just over the Illinois border. Paddle boat rides, trendy little shops, drinking wine and eating cheese on the screened-in porch at Scuttlebutt’s down by the lakefront. Staring at the fall colors and listening to the rustling leaves on all the birch trees. It was a tradition of sorts, their little getaway, always after the town’s tourist season was done and the cheaper hotel rates kicked in, and this year she’d broken that habit and taken her Turtle Island stash and had come here.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, vs. Rome, Italy. Practically nothing beat Wisconsin cheese and that lakeshore. Well, practically nothing until now. The dig trumped just about everything that bumped around in her brain.

Pick the delving.

“You know,” Irem continued, “the little goose bumps you get on your neck? Someone watching you. Someone following you. It felt like someone was following us last night.”

“Probably just all my talk about archaeology being dangerous,” Benito returned. “I probably spooked you. I would not worry.”

“I guess.” But his telling her not to worry just made her worry more. What was he hiding? How many secrets did he have?

“How was lunch with Lev?”

Was he purposely changing the subject?

“Good,” she said. “It was nice. McDonald’s. And I always think McDonald’s is nice.” A pause: “How about your lunch at the university?”

“Boring. With every bite I wanted to get back here. So I hurried them all along.”

Settle down.

It felt cooler today in the chamber where the Garcias worked. Irem would wear a jacket on her next foray, should’ve borrowed Lev’s windbreaker. Despite her unease about the square-faced man and Benito, she almost regretted promising tomorrow to her brother. This site was more tempting than a juicy quarter pounder with cheese, and it looked like they were making serious and fast progress. More than half the chamber had been excavated, and strips of plywood covered a section of the floor up against the carved wall.

“We’ve a surprise for you, Dr. Abruzi,” Lacy said softly.

“Wait on it,” Santiago told Lacy.

“Surprise?” Benito leaned close to what the pair worked on.

“I dunno,” Irem broached as she circled the Garcias to see what they’d found. “Looks like the other skeletons to me.” An entire skeleton had been revealed; it looked to be a short man with wide shoulders. On a piece of canvas nearby, hunks of rotting armor and jewelry were laid out. A string-and-peg grid on the far side of the chamber showed where they’d already excavated, and one spot where they intended to.

The stranger last night had wide shoulders like the skeleton.

“I really thought someone was following us, Benito,” Irem said. “A big guy with a long slicker and a hat with a stingy brim. The guy who brushed into us on the sidewalk. Him. And then I saw the same guy again watching the restaurant where we ate. He was standing across the street. And I could’ve sworn he followed you after we split up. It was … creepy. He had this hint of a beard and—”

Benito frowned. “Che sciocchezze è tutto frutto della tua immaginazione.”

“Huh?”

“Oh, sorry. It is all in your imagination, Irem. I don’t remember anyone bumping into us last night. And I am enough paranoid I would know if someone followed us.”

Guest Post by Jean Rabe

Remembering Winter Sky

Winter Sky was a crotch-sniffing husky with incredible blue eyes. I suppose he’s gone now, as he had some age to him when we used to watch him well more than a few years ago. Janet and I would sit by the big window at Scuttlebutts in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The restaurant was right across from the lake, giving us a breathtaking view, and we’d gaze at the locals and tourists along the shore early in the morning while we sipped chocolate-raspberry coffee and ate delicious French toast and orange slices. It was our monthly ritual, and our opportunity to share writing ideas and fiddle with each other’s plots.

Winter Sky was regularly walked along the lake, and on several occasions I went out to visit with him. I adore dogs. I can’t recall the name of his owner—though I was told it at one time. I remember dog names. More important maybe. I have three of my own: Wrinkles, an elderly pug; Miss Missy, an indefatigable Boston terrier; and Fable, a lazy Labrador … and at the moment they’re all crowded into one furry pile under my desk.

I miss Wisconsin, watching Winter Sky, downing cup after cup of chocolate-raspberry coffee with my friend, staring at the lake. And so I slipped some Wisconsin memories into The Bone Shroud. My main character, Irem Madigan, journeys to Rome for her brother’s wedding. It is a break from her annual vacation pilgrimage to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where she and her girlfriends would sit on the shore and instead of fancy, pricey coffee they shared alcoholic drinks with little umbrellas in them.

Scuttlebutts has since closed, morphed into a pizza place that I’m told lacks the magical lakefront ambience. But it lives in my book and my reminiscences.

Another Wisconsin memory was being the “best man” at my friend’s wedding. It was a medieval-themed ceremony held outside in January, the ground thick with snow. Good thing I had corduroy medieval garb, complete with a satin-lined Kinsale cloak (and why I had the clothes is a story for another time). I was honored to be the best man. The bride’s brother stood up for her, a “maid of honor,” so the reversal seemed fitting. A picture of the snowy wedding sits above my fireplace.

Irem Madigan flies to Rome to serve as the best man at her brother’s wedding. It is the vehicle that propels her into my mystery … and was a way to slip in a treasured piece of my past.

In The Bone Shroud I also mention walking by store windows along the Magnificent Mile at Christmas, watching old men play checkers and chess near the Chicago lakefront, and getting mugged in the subway near the Loop … again all pieces of my past sprinkled in. Things I can write about with feelings attached.

In my Piper Blackwell novels I toss in dogs I’ve shared my life with. In my horror novel, Pockets of Darkness, I add memories of Cool Papa Bell. In my SF tale, The Cauldron, scenes are set at a fishing resort I spent many summers at with my father. And in my current work-in-progress, The Dead of Summer, there are chapters at a county fair I attended back in my 4-H days.

A lot of authors add a touch of their life experiences. And when I read a book I often wonder which pieces come from the writer’s own familiarities. Robert B. Parker gave Spencer a German Shorthair Pointer … Parker favored those dogs and was pictured with one of his own on his dust jackets. Mystery writer Jaden Terrell uses horses in some of her novels … she has some … and dogs. And so now I am thinking of Winter Sky again, my time by the lake, and that marvelous coffee. Those were good days.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Jean Rabe is the author of three dozen novels published by small and major presses, has been on the USA Today bestseller’s list, and is a former crime reporter. Jean lives in a tiny town in central Illinois that boasts a gas station, Dollar General, and a pizza place with slow service. She writes with dogs wrapped around her feet while listening to the “music” of passing trains. She is active on Facebook and Twitter, blogs, and maintains a website: jeanrabe.com. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the International Thriller Writers, and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
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