The book opens with a bang, literally, as longtime Deputy Oren Rosenberg's house goes up in flames....
About the Book:
Two weeks before Christmas yards glow with twinkling lights. Carolers serenade neighborhoods. All is merry and bright.
But more than chestnuts are roasting. A raging fire sweeps through the holiday landscape of Sled Run, destroying the home of Chief Detective Oren Rosenberg and killing two. Could this be an accident? Or did anti-semitic hate fuel the flames?
Sheriff Piper Blackwell and Detective Basil Meredith believe Oren Rosenberg was targeted. How did the arsonist get into a secure, gated subdivision?
With scant clues and a festive but ill-timed snowfall, will they be able to find the culprit? Or will the brightness of the season take on a deadly glow as a murderer walks free to strike again?
Excerpt, Chapter One:
11 p.m. Friday, December 11th
The keening wail of a smoke detector shredded his dreams. Oren Rosenberg jumped out of bed and slammed into his slippers. Acrid burning scents attacked his nose and throat, making him cough. Faint light showing through the window hit the rolling haze hugging the ceiling.
The wail continued, joined by another, and another, until all the detectors in the house screamed a cacophonous chorus that terrified him.
Shaking, he scooped up Cipin, the bonus gray tabby who always slept with him. Next came Razzleberry, another bonus cat, a tuxedo who had been curled on the bedside rug. Cursing for leaving his cell phone on the charger in the kitchen, he looked for the other two cats along the way.
A section of the house had been rewired a handful of days ago after a few shorts and an electrician’s warning that things needed updating. Had shoddy work caused this?
“Freya!” he shouted, voice competing with the alarms’ dissonance. “Buttons! Freya!”
The smoke was thicker in the hall. He held his breath and fumbled through the space, hearing the sizzles, pops, and spitting, finding Buttons, a Hemmingway—his third bonus cat—hissing under the kitchen table. He fumbled for their carrier sitting by the wall, somehow persuading all three squirming bodies into the mesh and canvas enclosure meant for two, ignoring the claws raking his hands and arms. He closed the zipper and stood, the carrier tight in one fist.
Everything looked blindingly bright, flames reflecting in the stainless steel of the refrigerator, licking up the walls, racing across the ceiling like yellow-orange flowing water. Sweltering, Oren felt like he was roasting.
Something fiery dropped on his shoulder. He brushed it aside with his free hand, a piece of wood trim from the ceiling, burning his fingers. The fire moved fast, growing in all directions, its crackling competing with the wails. He smelled something plastic burning, melting, sickly sweet. Everything blazed.
Oren ripped the cell phone from the charger by the sink, punching in numbers, fighting down horror and struggling to find air amid all the smoke while still managing to hold the cat carrier’s handle.
So damn hot. He was solid sweat.
“9-1-1. What is the nature of your emergency?” Candace, the new hire for the 11 to 7 shift, the one who dressed like she was about to have a photo shoot for some fancy woman’s magazine, perfect hair, manicured nails.
Oren tried to talk.
“Say again. What is the nature of your—”
He worked up enough saliva and shouted: “This is Oren! Oren Rosenberg.”
“Yes, Chief Deputy Rosen—”
“My house is on fire. Sled Run in Santa Claus.” He squeezed the cat carrier tighter and started hacking so loud he couldn’t hear if she said anything in return. The phone slipped from his sweaty fingers, lost in the smoke swirling on the floor.
Review: This is a gripping new entry to an engaging series. As the series continues, the characters' lives have changed and matured, especially Piper as she grows into her job as sheriff. But this time the crimes hit home, and then become even more personal. Great series with characters you love, descriptive writing, and everything you want in a mystery, with lots of explosive action - literally!
You're sure to enjoy this latest in the series! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
About the Author:USA Today bestseller 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.