After a wonderfully relaxing day of camaraderie and backyard nature photography (https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2020/07/26/some-time-to-relax/), my characters got back to their normal routines.
My Foreman decided he was not quite ready to return to the illusory world my spellcasters had created for him, so he, my Gypsy, and my Young Hero spent a few days working their ersatz horses. Dragon, Sorceress, and Cleric began collecting botanicals and other raw spell components and processing them, to replace the components they had used in recent spellcasting. My Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter retreated to the seclusion of the garden shed, an area they had long ago overhauled and claimed as their place of refuge. My Old Dwarf returned to chasing the rabbits around the yard, cussing at them and brandishing his axe, but never quite catching any of them.
I arrived for dinner one evening midweek to an empty table, save for my husband who was looking confused. “Honey, are we the only two eating tonight? I made enough stew for an army.”
I frowned. “I don’t know of any reason the others wouldn’t be eating with us tonight. Give me a few minutes and I’ll see if I can round them up.”
Before I could move, Dragon, Sorceress, and Cleric appeared at the top of the stairs, looking exhausted. As the three trudged to the dining room, Dragon gave Miles and me a sheepish look. “We are sorry to be late to table. We managed to collect an extensive array of botanicals yesterday, and it has been a monumental task today, preserving and processing everything. We simply lost track of time.”
As the three magic users took their places at the table, another trio of my characters scurried through the door from the deck. Rushing to the table, my Foreman and the lads were all apologies for being late. My Gypsy grimaced. “We really worked the horses hard today, and it took longer than expected to walk them cool and groom them before giving them their grain and water.”
My Old Dwarf was the next one to arrive, plodding to the table, dragging his axe behind him. “I be right tuckered! I do na be knowin’ iffin I even be able ta be eatin’ anythin’ tonight, I be so tired oot from been chasin’ them long-eared varmints!” He almost crashed down into his chair and immediately placed his head down on his arms on the table. Moments later, his head shot up and he sniffed the air. “Be thet yer stew, laddie?”
My husband nodded.
“Wale, mebee I be able ta be forcin’ a few mouf-fuls.”
Miles tried to stifle a chuckle as I reached over and smacked the dwarf’s hand as he reached for the stewpot. “Wait until everyone’s here, please.”
The remainder of my little band of displaced characters, my Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter, made their appearance at that moment. “Sorry.” My elf’s tone clearly indicated he was not. “Your Bounty Hunter was assisting me in the perfection of a few of my more difficult illusions. We lost track of the time and only realized it must be nearing the hour for the evening meal when this lout’s stomach started to rumble.” He jerked his thumb in the direction of his companion, who shrugged but made no comment as the two took their places at the table.
I nodded. “It sounds like everyone had a busy day. I guess no one is going to be up to doing any reading tonight, but I though some of you might be interested to learn Jean Rabe’s next book in the Piper Blackwell series is out.”
“It is?” Dragon’s eyes widened and all signs of fatigue and exhaustion melted away. “I have been looking forward to reading it. The rest of the botanicals can wait!”
“Indeed!” Cleric jumped from her seat and ran over to me. “What is the title of the book? Do you have a copy of it?” Without waiting for an answer, she turned to Dragon. “May I read it after you have finished with it?”
“Awwww . . . I wanted to read it after Dragon!” My Gypsy pouted.
“I thought you all had your own e-readers.” I raised an eyebrow at them. “Didn’t you procure them when Jean’s last book came out, so you could all read it right away and no one had to wait?”
“That’s right!” My Gypsy whooped. “We can all read the book at once!”
“What is the name of this new book?” My Bounty Hunter appeared mildly interested.
“The Dead of Jerusalem Ridge.”
“That is a peculiar title. What is a Jerusalem Ridge?” My Arrogant One furrowed his brow.
I smiled. “Jerusalem Ridge is the place in Kentucky where the story begins.”
The elf tilted his head and gave me a confused look. “I thought I remembered these books being set in a place called Indiana.”
“They are. The main character, Piper Blackwell, is a sheriff in a rural county in Indiana. She’s just in Kentucky for a three-day holiday. She’s visiting some old army buddies, and they’re engaged in an extreme sport known as paintball. I know you’ll have no knowledge of this sport, but you’ll understand it after a while. Jean does an excellent job of describing everything so even people who aren’t familiar with the sport can follow the action.”
“That is one of the things I like about Mistress Rabe’s books.” My Gypsy wore a wide grin. “There is a lot about this real world of yours that we, your characters, have never encountered in our medieval world. Yet, I have no trouble following the events in Mistress Rabe’s books. She explains everything very well, often when a character has to explain something to Sheriff Blackwell, who is rather inexperienced.”
“Indeed!” Cleric nodded. “I remember in . . .” She paused to think, her brow furrowing in concentration. “I believe it was in her second book, The Dead of Night, she wrote about topics such as computer hacking and banking fraud, things of which I had no knowledge, yet I had no trouble understanding the story. Evidently the sheriff had little experience with these topics, either. So, as she learned, the readers learned.”
“Yes, yes, we know all that, but what is this book about?” My Sorceress frowned and waved Cleric off. “Is it as good as her past books?” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/mystery/
“Well, I thought it was fantastic, every bit as good as the first three in the series, and I daresay you will enjoy it, too. There are two mysteries presented. One involves an incident at Jerusalem Ridge during the paintball. Another occurs back in Sheriff Blackwell’s jurisdiction, where her department is investigating a crime.” I motioned for my characters to wait a moment.
I retrieved my laptop and brought up one of the sites with book reviews. “Look at this. The Dead of Jerusalem Ridge already has ten reviews on this site alone, and it’s only been out a couple of weeks. And every one of the reviews here gives the book a five-star rating, the highest rating possible. Here’s one of the reviews.” I read it aloud to the others.
Another Winner for Jean Rabe. The Dead of Jerusalem Ridge is the fourth installment in award-winning author Jean Rabe’s fantastic Piper Blackwell series, and it hits its mark squarely.
The series follows the efforts of the young and inexperienced, but very capable, rural sheriff, Piper Blackwell, and her impressive team as they go about solving gruesome crimes. The action, which rarely slows for the reader to catch a breath, is at times heart-stopping and jaw-dropping.
The series is populated by rich, multi-dimensional, and sometimes quirky characters so well written that the reader will feel as if they could strike up a conversation with them. Readers will never suffer a two-dimensional, cardboard cutout character in one of Rabe’s books, and it is her inclusion of details from both the professional and personal lives of her characters that makes them feel so real. Rabe’s meticulous eye for detail, and her use of language that sings, brings the rural settings to life as well.
As The Dead of Jerusalem Ridge opens, main character Piper is taking a few days off to enjoy the company of some old army buddies and engage in the extreme sport of paintball in the eponymous Jerusalem Ridge, Kentucky. As often happens in Piper’s life, things go wrong . . . horribly wrong. The young sheriff finds herself in the middle of a mystery while dealing with serious injury and tragic personal loss.
Upon her return to the rural Indiana county where she lives and works, Piper finds her department investigating a hate crime which is dividing the usually close-knit community . . . a hate crime that takes a deadly turn. Piper immerses herself in both investigations while trying to recover from her injuries and deal with events in her personal life.
The pacing of the story, with its various twists and turns along the way, will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. The details of the crimes will draw the reader into trying to solve the mysteries of whodunit and why. The Dead of Jerusalem Ridge, like all Jean Rabe’s Piper Blackwell books, is a wonderful weave of cozy mystery, police procedural, and suspense. And the ending delivers a delightful surprise.
I can’t wait for the next book in this series.
“Oh, this sounds so exciting! I cannot wait to read it!” Cleric gushed.
“Nor I!” Sorceress turned to Dragon. “Yes, the rest of the botanicals will have to wait. We need to do some reading.”
I grinned at their eagerness. “Just as a side note, on the day The Dead of Jerusalem Ridge came out, Jean Rabe won an unrelated award. She received the Faust Award, bestowing on her the title of Grandmaster, from the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, for a lifetime of writing great tie-in books.” https://iamtw.org/2020-faust-award-winner-jean-rabe-grandmaster/
“Tie-in books?” My Gypsy looked confused.
I smiled. “A tie-in book is a work of fiction based on a film, a video game, a television series, or another such product.” Seeing the lad still looked confused, I tried to explain. “For example, Jean has written books set in the Star Wars universe, as well as tie-in books for many other products.”
“You will have to show us all of Mistress Rabe’s books someday, but right now, I want to start reading The Dead of Jerusalem Ridge.”
With that, my Gypsy and his companions gobbled their food in record time, then raced away, each intent on finding a quiet place to read.
Be sure to join us again next week to see what awaits my little band of displaced characters next. I’ll leave the porch light on for you.
Jean Rabe is a former reporter and bureau chief turned novelist. She has more than 35 books published in various genres, and more than four dozen short stories. Perhaps best known for her fantasy and science fiction works, she has made a name for herself with her urban fantasy and her mystery tales as well. Rabe lives in a small Midwest town, enjoys board games and roleplaying games, and always has a dog or three lying across her feet as she writes.