Good morning my peeps we have 20 days till Christmas and I have a book for your Christmas giving ideas .
It is almost Christmas and yards glow with twinkling lights.
But more than chestnuts are roasting.
A raging fire sweeps through the decorated landscape of Sled Run, destroying the home of Chief Deputy Oren Rosenberg and killing two.
An accident? Or did something toxic fuel the flames?
Sheriff Piper Blackwell and Detective Basil Meredith believe Oren was targeted and are tasked with finding motive and means before more than the holiday burns bright.
With many clues reduced to ashes, can Piper and Basil catch the culprits before they strike again? Or is this blaze just the start of the most murder-filled time of the year?
“Looks like the fire started here, Sheriff, back of the house, right outside the kitchen window. See? Next to the AC unit.” He paused. “What used to be the AC unit.” The man wore navy blue pants, creased, tucked into leather boots that had thick soles and obvious steel toes. Sporting a mud-brown bomber jacket with an ivory wooly collar, he’d clipped his State Fire Marshal badge to the wide lapel.“Richard Oster,” he said, thrusting out an ungloved hand. “Rick.”
Piper, wearing her driver’s gloves, shook it, noting his grip was uncomfortably strong. She squeezed back. “Piper Black—”
“Sheriff Piper Blackwell. I know who you are. Something of a celebrity. You handled a couple of major drug busts in the fall. Serious pot farm, meth lab so big the Feds came in. Largest take downs in the state’s history. The Indy Star ran stories for days. Made the national news. Pleasure to meet you.”
“And Detective Basil Meredith,” Piper added an introduction, indicating him with a hand. “He discovered the drug operations.” Along with Chief Deputy Oren Rosenberg, who nearly lost his life to this fire.
“Pleasure.” Oster shook Basil’s hand.
Santa Claus Fire Chief Wollach joined them. He’d been walking around the perimeter of both properties, taking pictures, shaking his head as if in disbelief.
The wreckage looked worse this morning, the bright sun illuminated charred wood, collapsed bricks, sections of walls leaning precariously, and twisted things that had been furniture and appliances and memories. Oren’s fireplace and chimney still stood, like a tall digit flipping off the neighborhood. The scene had been bad enough when she came out hours earlier while the volunteer fire department fought the blaze. The darkness and sleet muted much of the horror then. Odors of burned and melted things remained strong.
She turned on her body cam, noticing Basil was using the department camera, getting shots of the destruction, Oster, Wollach, and the neighbors perched on the sidewalk across the street.
Ten onlookers bundled in winter coats, two of them with cell phones up and recording, Piper noted. Maybe they were among the gawkers hours ago when the fire raged. Three men stood separate, near an open garage, the clouds of mist around their heads evidence of their conversation. Faces peered from windows, many of them children. Maybe someone watching knew something about the victims who’d died in the Laubenstein house. Or had seen something.
“I agree with you,” Oster said to Basil, nodding. “This is arson. Clumsy, amateur, clear. I’ll conduct a thorough investigation to back it up. I have two technicians with me and we’ll get footage and samples.” He filled the pause with a chuckle. “Well, they’ll be back here in a little while. Baxter takes frequent pee breaks, and they’re picking up coffees.”
“You said the fire started here,” Piper cut in. Wood crunched under her feet as she walked, pieces of Oren’s house. “Show me.”
The Dead of Autumn on Amazon: mybook.to/DeadofAutmn
Dead of Winter on Amazon: mybook.to/DeadofWinterAudio
The Piper Blackwell Series on Amazon: http://mybook.to/PiperBlackwellSeries
USA Today best-seller, Jean Rabe's impressive writing career spans decades, starting as a newspaper reporter and bureau chief.
From there she went on to become the director of RPGA, a co-editor with Martin H. Greenberg for DAW books, and, most notably, Rabe is an award-winning author of more than forty science fiction/fantasy and murder mystery thrillers.
She writes mysteries and fantasies, because life is too short to be limited to one genre--and she does it with dogs tangled at her feet, because life is too short not to be covered in fur.
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