…but not for Sheriff Piper Blackwell. Fifty-eight minutes into her first day on the job she’s faced with a murder—the victim artfully posed amid the decorations on his lawn.
Fresh out of the military, 23–year-old Piper is in charge of a manhunt during the most brutal winter sleepy Spencer County Indiana has experienced. Her opponent in the recent election–Chief Deputy Oren Rosenberg–doesn’t like her; she has no experience working in a sheriff’s department, and he wants her to fail. Piper doesn’t like him either, but she needs him to help catch the killer.
In a deceptively peaceful county where everyone seems to know everyone else, a murderer hides in plain sight, and Piper and Oren are thrown together in the hunt.
Jean Rabe took time out of her busy schedule to discuss THE DEAD OF WINTER with The Big Thrill:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
That eeriness and happiness can be found in rural communities, and that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it towns can be great places to set a mystery.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
The main character is a 23-year-old sheriff, plausibly built. It contributes a look at rural law enforcement through the eyes of youth–the sheriff, and her chief deputy, who is old enough to be her grandfather.
Was there anything new you discovered, or surprised you, as you wrote this book?
I discovered that small-town folks are very generous and accommodating. I researched the town and county by visiting, chatting with people on the street, in the sheriff’s department, and in the restaurant and chamber of commerce. They’re just felt friendlier than the people I’ve contacted for research in larger cities.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
Many aspects of the book–namely the killer and the motives–were fostered by things that happened from my childhood to recently. I built the killer from sad happenings involving family pets.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Robert Crais…smooth prose; Raymond Benson…great action scenes; James Lee Burke…rich characters; Tami Hoag…strong female law enforcement characters; Michael Connelly…Harry Bosch.
“Mystery just got a little less cozy in THE DEAD OF WINTER.”
–New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Steven Savile
“Jean Rabe delivers a suspenseful morsel that not only celebrates the Yuletide season, but also keeps you up at night with a well-crafted mystery. THE DEAD OF WINTER is chilling indeed!”
-Raymond Benson, author of The Black Stiletto series, New York Times bestselling author of James Bond novels
“For years I’ve admired Jean Rabe’s work in the science fiction and fantasy genres, and now, with THE DEAD OF WINTER, she’s applying her considerable talents to the field of mysteries. The first in a very promising series with an attractive main character, Piper Blackwell, a female county sheriff who faces obstacles both on and off the job while investigating a puzzling homicide. Very much recommended.”
-Multiple award-winning and three-time Edgar nominee author Brendan DuBois
“THE DEAD OF WINTER was a blast—lots of fun to read! Jean Rabe’s characters come to life through the written word, and it takes a real writing talent to accomplish this feat.”
-Denise Dietz, USA Today bestselling author
Jean Rabe is the author of 35 fantasy, science fiction, and adventure novels, and more short stories than she cares to count. She is the assistant editor of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine and edits novels in her spare time. When not working, Jean tosses tennis balls to her cadre of dogs, plays boardgames and role-playing games, and fuses glass. She lives in Central Illinois, surrounded by farmland and railroad tracks.
To learn more about Jean, please visit her website.