Archive for August 5th, 2019

The Dead of Summer

The Dead of Summer by Jean Rabe

Shouts of delight turn to screams of terror when a carnival ride goes berserk at the Spencer County Fair. Sheriff Piper Blackwell must contain the chaos and investigate the possible sabotage, even as she tries to solve a local businessman’s horrific murder.

But managing two investigations with at least one killer on the loose pushes the young officer and her tiny staff to their limits. Can Piper catch the murderer, or will the summer’s body count continue to rise?

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Just when you think you’ve read the best from author Jean Rabe, she throws the thrill ride of a lifetime into her latest mystery. The Dead of Summer starts with a bang, a scrunch, a twist, and screams…lots and lots of screams. The book hooks you from the start.

—Mary Cunningham, author of Andi Anna Jones Mysteries

Jean Rabe immerses you in the sights, sounds, and smells of summer in rural Indiana, as she subtly weaves characters, clues, departmental interactions, and high-speed action into a satisfying criminal confection worthy of a blue ribbon as Best Summer Mystery. Not quite a cozy, but a helluva whodunnit.

Donald J. Bingle, author of the Dick Thornby Spy Thriller series


“We’ve never had an industrial accident at a fair,” Oren added. “Not anything close to this, not in the county’s history. So this is new to all of us.”

“At least someone in your department knew enough to call Homeland Security,” Vanessa said.

Only because Piper found a reference to it in the department manual.

“Sheriff Blackwell, there are in the neighborhood of nineteen thousand elevators, escalators, and amusement rides in the state that we regulate yearly. Certified inspectors examine them all … elevators in schools, nursing homes, hospitals, factories, office and apartment buildings.” Vanessa spoke like she was lecturing to a school group. “And in places you might not think of, such as grain storage, steel mills, smoke stacks, TV towers. We take on fairgrounds for the rides—like this one, theme parks, indoor amusement parks in the big hotels. Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, and the Peaks in Paoli … the lifts, you know, in ski season. It’s pretty amazing what’s all given a look, what all falls under my department. We inspect about a thousand amusement rides every year. Part of NAARSO.”

Piper raised an eyebrow.

“That’s the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials. NAARSO,” Vanessa continued. “I have a Level One certification, and in my early years I inspected plenty of them, looking for broken parts, improper maintenance, rigorously tested the seat belts, shoulder harnesses, and lap bars. Every ride is inspected once a year when it comes into the state … which according to my records in your case was three days ago when this fair started set-up. Some states—not ours—accept recent inspections from other states. The rides must prominently display the current permit issued by IDHS.”

Piper mentally translated that to Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

“This ride—what’s remaining of this ride—has such an up to date sticker. From three days ago.”

“So … what’s next?” Piper repeated, wondering if that meant the inspection was not properly done.

Another huffing breath. “I have two investigators coming out this morning—they should be here between nine and ten, along with an insurance company inspector. They’re going to look over the pieces before they’re carted off, take even more samples. Then they’ll re-evaluate the other rides, and determine if this section of your fair can reopen tomorrow. I expect them to be here most of the day, giving another check to everything standing.”

“And you’ll figure out why this happened?” Piper pressed. “You’ll make some sort of ruling soon? That maybe your initial inspection wasn’t—”

“As soon as I can. And our inspections are thorough.” Vanessa picked up her kit. “Look, I’m going to get copies of what you collected, go through some of it at your office if you don’t object. Then I’ll go back to Indy and give everything a more comprehensive look, talk to the inspectors who like I said will be here in a little while, see what they say. We’ll work together, you and me. So, as soon as I can, I’ll get you something. But it won’t be today or tomorrow.”

Piper thought about Vernon “I didn’t do anything wrong” Milgrew sitting in jail. A Virginia police officer was arriving in four days to take him back where he belonged to face assorted Meth charges. She hoped Vanessa would make a ruling within that time; otherwise she’d come up with a reason to keep Vernon longer—just in case he did do something wrong.

About the Author

Jean Rabe … Mysteries, Suspense, and Uncozy Cozies


And I write with dogs wrapped around my feet. I get to wear sandals or bedroom slippers to work, and old, comfortable clothes. When the weather is fine I get to write on my back porch. I love summer. I am working on promotions for The Dead of Summer right now, the third in my Piper Blackwell series. It has a nifty cover … which fits where the story kicks off. The first two books in the series are The Dead of Winter and The Dead of Night. Yeah, someone ends up dead in each book. Gotta have a death to make it a murder mystery. And I put a good amount of death in this latest book.

I started getting published when I was 12, studied journalism at Northern Illinois University, then went to work as a news reporter…eventually for Scripps Howard, where I managed their Western Kentucky bureau. Getting itchy feet, I moved to Wisconsin and went to work for TSR, Inc., the then-producers of the Dungeons & Dragons game. I dipped my itchy feet into the fiction pool and wrote Dragonlance novels for several years.

I’ve written forty SF, fantasy, mystery, and adventure novels (including a couple of ghosted projects), more short stories than I care to count, and I’ve edited magazines and anthologies.

Right now it’s all about mysteries…thrillers, suspense and uncozy-cozies. I had to change genres from SF and fantasy ’cause my feet were itching again and I needed to do something different.

I attend game conventions–as I am a geek about boardgames and rpgs, work as a mentor for graduate-level writing students, and toss tennis balls for my cadre of dogs.


My Review

5 Stars

It was supposed to be a night of fun until a carnival ride malfunctions leaving several dead. Sheriff Piper Blackwell is called in to look at the ride and possible sabotage. But the more she start looking, the more bodies she starts finding. Spencer County has a small police force and it is stretched to its limits trying to find the murder/murderers.

You jump right into the action as the ride goes crazy at the carnival and Piper to get to it and direct people away. It’s not a pretty scene and had me hooked from page one. I liked Piper. She left the military to return home to help her father with his chemotherapy. I love how she is not a push over, she is strong willed and a great main character.

This is a great mystery that had me guessing until the end. It was great to revise Piper after reading The Dead of Night. I really need to go back and read the first book of this series, The Dead of Winter. This is a wonderfully engrossing read and one that I recommend checking out. I can’t wait to read more about Piper.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


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