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The Dead of Winter, by Jean Rabe

Less than an hour after her election as sheriff, Piper Blackwell has a frozen corpse as her first case. Conrad Delaney has been artfully arranged on the Christmas display at the front of his house and no one had noticed he’d been there for days. Shortly afterwards another local victim is found, also displayed like the cover of a Christmas card with a festive mug at the scene. Piper discovers the culprit purchased 11 cups: does that mean 11 victims…?
Piper has personal issues as her father, the previous sheriff, has cancer. She has returned from the army to care for him and uses her knowledge from the military police to tackle her first civilian case. She has a tough act to follow and her new colleagues are not happy at the prospect of a young and inexperienced woman being in charge.
The third person narrative used inThe Dead of Winter allows us to see the police characters as well as the Christmas Card Killer perspectives. Piper develops in confidence over the course of the book and she is a likeable lead especially in the face of the resentment at work and the sadness in her private life.
There is some forensic detail alongside the police procedure, investigation and interrogations. This is a little stomach churning but delivered factually so is not overly unpleasant. However, the victims all seem like nice people which makes the revulsion at their murders more intense.
The small town setting and the Christmas elements of the book make it feel believable and realistic although I admit that the motive of the killer felt slightly extreme. The humanity and natural emotional instincts of the characters is really well written so that readers can identify with their actions.
I look forward to seeing how Piper moves forward from the dramatic climax of The Dead of Winter and will be reviewing the next in the series later this week…

The Dead of Winter book cover

The Dead of Winter book blurb
In a deceptively peaceful county, a murderer hides in plain sight…
Fifty-eight minutes into her first day on the job, twenty-three-year-old Sheriff Piper Blackwell is faced with a grisly murder—the victim artfully posed amid decorations on his lawn. Drawing on former military training, Piper must prove herself worthy of the sheriff’s badge, and that won’t be easy.
Chief Deputy Oren Rosenberg, Piper’s opponent in the recent election, doesn’t like her and wants her to fail. She doesn’t like him either, but she needs Oren to help catch the killer before another victim is discovered. Too late!
As Piper leads the manhunt, another crisis hits close to home. Her father, the previous sheriff, is fighting for his life, and she is torn between family and duty. Facing personal and professional threats, Piper has to weather a raging storm, keep the sheriff’s department from crumbling around her, and reel in a killer during the most brutal winter sleepy Spencer County, Indiana, has experienced.

author Jean Rabe

About the author
USA TODAY Bestselling author Jean Rabe tosses tennis balls to her cadre of dogs when she isn’t writing. She has three dozen novels and about a hundred short stories to her credit. Jean lives in a tiny town surrounded by railroad tracks, the trains providing music to type by. She loves role playing games, board games, card games, visiting museums, playing fantasy football, watching football games, and loves dogs.


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