Excerpt: The Dead of Jerusalem by Jean Rabe

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About the Book: 

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.

“Piper Blackwell is a smart and capable small-town sheriff, a thoroughly modern woman who leads a colorful cast of characters in this entertaining read. Well-crafted and suspenseful, THE DEAD OF JERUSALEM RIDGE adroitly threads the needle between Cozy, Procedural, and Action-Thriller. Jean Rabe’s fans⸺both old and new⸺won’t want to miss this one.⸺ Baron R. Birtcher, multi-award winner, and LA Times Bestselling author



“Do you like bluegrass, Christmas?”


Spaceman was out front, better from Piper’s perspective since he knew the territory. She glanced from right to left, then spun and looked behind her. The greens were vibrant from yesterday’s deluge, the ground soft underfoot and springy in places along the narrow game trail. The air was clean and touched with the scent of wildflowers. Bird song and chirping filled the silence. She’d not noticed tracks, but Alpha could have covered them up if they came this way.

“Some,” she answered. “A little. I like modern country music better. Saw a great concert this summer—Clint Holster played at the county fair.”

“Big Nashville singer,” Spaceman said over his shoulder. “I’ve heard him. Didn’t figure him for county fairs.”

“I didn’t figure you for running a used car dealership.”

“Life takes strange turns, eh? Hope I like it. I didn’t figure you for a sheriff.”

“Life takes strange turns,” she agreed.


Piper heard a whizzing a second before Spaceman yelled. She watched him drop to a crouch. She followed the move and shoved her back up against an oak. They shouldn’t have been chattering, should have been quiet and stealthy.

Spaceman had been hit in the shoulder. They’d probably tried for a head shot, and they’d come close.


The birds had stopped singing.

Something moved to the southwest, but she couldn’t see through the tangle of undergrowth. Spaceman skittered behind a bush. Her walkie-talkie was silent; nothing from Hemi or Renegade.


Ahead, Spaceman was on his feet, popping twin shots into the same target—one in the chest, one lower.

“My kill!” Piper yelled. Then she dropped and rolled across the narrow trail to the other side, coming up in a jumble of tall grasses. Her hair got caught on a low-hanging branch and she tugged free, checked her gun, and crawled farther southeast.

“Ya got me!” the kill confirmed. It was Harold, the only member of Alpha without a nickname. She’d met him at Campbell five years ago, a serious soul who hadn’t cut it in culinary school and so enlisted, and reenlisted; he’d refused all nicknames they’d tried to apply. “How about you come out and take my picture, Spaceman? Christmas?”

Not a chance, old friend.

Harold might have a partner hiding, waiting to snipe. It wouldn’t be Brick … maybe Gonzo, the two were fast friends. Gonzo was a good soldier, seemingly indefatigable, but he was also a little clumsy and kind of strange.

“Yeah, I’ll come get your picture,” Spaceman returned. “You and whoever’s with you.”

Piper peered through a bush and watched Spaceman jackknife up, grab a thick branch, and swing into a tree, a hiss followed by a streak whizzing past. In the next moment, Spaceman somersaulted down, making a racket and firing a series of shots into the brush yards ahead.

Hiss whizz, hiss whizz, phew, phew.

She remained low and crawled in the same direction, and then had to stand when a clump of spindly maples blocked her. She stopped and listened, hearing Spaceman tromping through the underbrush, mumbling “I’ll take your damn picture,” hearing leaves overhead rustling, then hearing the cry of some bird. Piper looked up, seeing a hawk streak away.

Beautiful bird.

In fact, these woods, this day, all of it was beautiful. She was having fun.



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About the Author: My home is filled with dogs and books. Lots of dogs and books. I wear worn out sandals to work every day. I’m a mystery writer living in a tiny Midwestern town that has a gas station, a Dollar General, and a marvelous pizza place with exceedingly slow service. I am always working on a new project or three. I have forty-some books published in the fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy and mystery genres. But I’m concentrating on mysteries now. In my spare time I dabble in roleplaying games and boardgames. And at every opportunity, I toss tennis balls to my cadre of dogs.

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