This morning, I want to put a word in your ear (a pixel in your eye?) about The Dead of Autumn by Jean Rabe. This is the the fifth entry in her Piper Blackwell Mystery series and a book I strongly recommend for anyone who loves police procedurals or cozy mysteries or just a darned good story. To put it simply, there are very few authors I will stop to read when I’m up against a deadline. Jean Rabe is one of the few. Her latest, The Dead of Autumn, just came out and was well worth the time away from the keyboard and is, in my opinion, the best of the series.
I’ll start off by admitting this isn’t your normal mystery series. It doesn’t fall into any easy category and I’m perfectly all right about it. It is a police procedural but that is exactly what it is. Jean herself called them “cozy police procedurals” in an earlier appearance here on MGC. In my opinion they are just good books that I eat up when a new one comes out and I wait anxiously for the next book to arrive.
Without going into spoilers for The Dead of Autumn, like the rest of the series, is set in Spencer County, Indiana. Jean brings her version of the county–and, yes, there really is a Spencer County and even a town called Santa Claus–to life. It is inhabited with real people, some good, some bad and most a mix of both. When I read the series, I can close my eyes and see the area and that is especially true in The Dead of Autumn which opens on Halloween.
And, as most any cop will tell you, Halloween is never “just another day” for those in law enforcement. Which makes this a pretty good place to give the book description.
A teenager dressed as Tinker Bell never made it to the Halloween party.
Her murders sends a ripple of fear through Piper Blackwell’s rural jurisdiction.
Investigating the crime, the young sheriff and her detective are drawn into an underworld they didn’t know existed. Can the pair survive the trip into the dark heart of once idyllic Spencer County?
Can they find the killer before more lives are are destroyed and he strikes again?
Sheriff Piper Blackwell is one of my favorite characters. She’s flawed and knows it, something we don’t always see in other series. She knows she has a lot left to learn about being sheriff, not that she always likes asking for help. She’s loyal to her friends and dedicated to protecting those who look to her Department to protect the county.
What I like most about Piper is how Jean is letting her grow in this series. Each book reveals a new layer or three to Piper, making her both more real and more interesting. But Jean doesn’t stop there. She does the same with her supporting characters, something that is part of what makes this latest installment in the series so much fun.
In The Dead of Autumn, Piper and company find themselves investigating two murders, the meth problem in the county and even a set of bones found in a trunk in the attic of an old house just purchased by one of the Sheriff’s Department’s dispatchers. Oh, and there’s the little thing about Piper’s upcoming wedding to Nang and the fact she has yet to set a date even though she is now looking at wedding magazines and staring at a certain wedding dress in the window of one of the shops down the street from her office.
If you want an entertaining mystery that combines police procedurals with cozy mysteries with real life issue, this is the series for you. The books can be read on their own but you will get much more out of them if you read them in order.
I highly recommend this book. It is one of the few I’ve read in the last year or more than I not only started as soon as it hit my Kindle but that I can, without a doubt, give 5-stars to. The characters are real, complete with strengths and weaknesses. They are people I want to know better. Characters I care about. The plot is believable. The book entertains and doesn’t hide the fact that darkness exists everywhere, even in a rural county with towns like Santa Claus in them.
The Dead of Autumn
Publisher: Boone Street Press (May 15, 2022)
Publication date: May 15, 2022
Print length: 319 pages
Buy link here
Dead of Autumn is book five of the Piper Blackwell Series. Want to read the series in order? Check it out here.
Prefer audio? The Piper Blackwell series is in audio, read by Catherine Wenglowski. Start with book one of the series.
Here’s where to enter her Rafflecopter giveaway.
USA Today best-seller, Jean Rabe’s impressive writing career spans decades, starting as a newspaper reporter and bureau chief.
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.
Find out more about her at www.jeanrabe.com