Burning Rage, Deuce Mora #3

Someone is trying to burn Chicago—all of it.

It began with a massive arson in an abandoned warehouse in the thriving South Loop area of Chicago and became much more when the unidentifiable bodies of two men were found in the rubble. City officials dismissed the dead as vagrants and drug addicts who probably started the fire for warmth on a frigid Chicago night and got caught in a tragedy of their own making.

But privately, neither the medical examiner nor a state arson investigator believes the city’s dismissal of the fire and the deaths. Deuce Mora, the lead metro columnist for the financially ailing Chicago Journal newspaper, doesn’t want to get involved. But because the arson investigator, Mark Hearst, is her partner, she finds herself drawn into a horror that keeps growing.

With sickening regularity massive arson fires begin to ravage Chicago. Dozens are dying. Hundreds are hurting. Property damage is unfathomable. Authorities have the arsonist’s DNA. They have his fingerprints. They even have a witness description. But nothing matches any database in the country, and the structure of the attacks matches no known terrorism group. Whoever is setting the fires has found a way to live completely off the grid: in addition to no recorded fingerprints or DNA, he has no driver’s license, no car, no Social Security number, no bank account, no utility accounts, no cable TV, no regular job, not even a library card.

As the serial arsons continue the feds step in to lead the investigation, insisting that ISIS or another foreign terrorist group is to blame.

But Deuce doesn’t buy that. Nothing points to any known terrorist group anywhere in the world. And no terrorist group is taking credit for an increasingly horrific series of crimes.

Then the pattern begins to take on an astonishing new meaning that could lead Deuce right to the killer.

If he doesn’t find and kill her first.

The Hunting Ground, Deuce Mora #2


Although, to be fair, this one is brought to her by a dog with a bone in his teeth. In Jean Heller’s first Deuce Mora murder mystery, the scrappy sleuth tangled with the mob; this time out she’s on the wrong side of the NSA, the FBI and the CIA. Fans of hard-boiled female protagonists should hang onto their fedoras—this one’s an action-packed extravaganza!

The grisly discovery of a human bone while Deuce is out for a hike with handsome arson investigator Mark Hearst leads to a vast burial field, a human trafficking ring, and international intrigue. The pulls-no-punches columnist—and meticulous detective--keeps turning up information, bit by bit, only to find some Fed always in her face, at her door, emerging from the shadows, steadfastly guarding the story. Insisting it can’t be told. Yes, the Feds are aware of the trafficking ring; yes they have a plan to move on it; no, Deuce can’t be told about the plan; and under no circumstances can she write about its existence.


“Heller sets a lot of plates spinning in the first half of this book, and .  .  . the second half, which is expertly paced, leads to a thrilling conclusion.”

-Kirkus Reviews

"Heller, herself a journalist and former investigative reporter, crafts a tightly constructed mystery featuring a protagonist of tremendous empathy and a bent toward thoughtful introspection."

-Publishers Weekly/Book Life

“Good reporters do not always good novelists make, but Jean Heller is both.” 

-The Boston Sunday Globe


The Someday File, Deuce Mora #1


Deuce Mora’s one tough cookie–-a female sleuth with a conscience and an attitude–-fiery, tough, athletic, a dirty fighter when she has to be. In Jean Heller’s first mystery featuring the scrappy newspaper columnist, Deuce finds out in short order that if you mess with organized crime, you have to be tough—and you’d better be as much detective as reporter. When she walks into a seedy neighborhood bar in a suburb of Chicago–-all six feet of her, topped with auburn curls—she’s searching for a human-interest story. What she finds is Vinnie Colangelo, an aging mobster living on bad beer, cheap bourbon and regret for the life he wasted.


"Well-crafted and suspenseful…The story line is nicely twisty without stretching probability."

-Publishers Weekly



"A carefully plotted mystery, the first in a series featuring indefatigable Chicago columnist Deuce Mora…Heller should be able to get a lot of mileage out of such a great character and supporting cast. A promising first adventure; if Heller can keep the quality this high, mystery fans will have a lot to look forward to."

-Kirkus Reviews


"Well-crafted and suspenseful…The story line is nicely twisty without stretching probability."

-Publishers Weekly/BookLife


"Jean Heller knows newspapers and she knows Chicago. It’s no wonder that her fictional female columnist Deuce Mora rings true. The tenacious reporter sinks her teeth into a grisly half-century old crime with the odds stacked against her and the body-count mounting. Like Jack Nicholson’s character in Chinatown¸ Deuce sticks her nose in other people’s business and finds dead-ends and danger at every turn. Part journalism procedural, part character study, THE SOMEDAY FILE is a humdinger of a mystery, the first of a welcome new series."

-Paul Levine, author of BUM RAP


"Well-plotted and tightly-written, with a fascinating glimpse into the sometimes grim reality of print journalism, THE SOMEDAY FILE is a thrilling read."

-Wendy Tyson, International Thriller Writers “Big Thrill Newsletter”


"I really enjoyed THE SOMEDAY FILE. Heller does a great job of taking the reader through the step-by-step process of a intriguing investigation, connecting tragic events—separated by over 50 years—with one surprise after another."

-Ron Alvarez, retired NYPD lieutenant


"I thoroughly enjoyed this book…The writing is excellent, the dialogue is smooth and natural, and I fell in love with the characters. Deuce is funny, likable, and easy to relate to. It didn’t take long for me to grow attached to her. And the struggle is realistic. I love watching her fall down the rabbit hole, so to speak, as she finds herself digging deeper and deeper into the investigation…I loved the twists and turns and the shocking ending. I look forward to reading more of Deuce’s stories."

-Ann Livi Andrews, annliviandrews.com and Goodreads, on THE SOMEDAY FILE


"Great book with an amazing female lead character… A great read."

-Diane J., Goodreads member, on THE SOMEDAY FILE


"THE SOMEDAY FILE is a well-written mystery with a really well-thought out plot."



"Good reporters do not always good novelists make, but Jean Heller is both."

-The Boston Sunday Globe


"Superb … It reads like a multimillion-dollar movie thriller."

-St. Louis Post-Dispatch


How well can you know the people hired to do projects in your home? And what horrors can you face if they aren’t what and who you think?

Handyman asks those question in the glitz-and-glamor world of television news reporting where a serial killer stalks his next victim. The media call him the Heartbreak Killer because of his compulsion to mutilate the hearts of his victims. But he thinks of himself as the Handyman, from a favorite old song.


The new Converse jet engine had been rigorously tested. It’s supposed to be virtually crash-proof, a major advance in commercial aviation. Then a massive passenger liner equipped with the new engines goes down in flames at Dulles International Airport. More than three hundred people die.




My mother once confronted my husband and me, put her hands on her hips, and asked,
“Can’t one of you hold onto a job?”

Jean-Heller-PortraitShe was joking – sort of. Both of us were journalists, and we kept getting better jobs, which required moving. A lot. Moving frequently is, I have discovered, a good way to avoid having to clean out the closets, the garage, and the cabinets under the kitchen sink.

Through it all, I have been one thing above all else, a writer.

I started my first novel when I was in the third grade, the story of people living at the center of the earth. I liked the concept, but I really didn’t have a good plot point, and when I discovered what it’s really like at the center of the earth, the project went up in flames, so to speak.

My first complete novel, a thriller called “Maximum Impact,” was published by Forge, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, in 1993. My second, “Handyman,” came two years later. Both received great reviews from critics and readers.

My new series features Deuce Mora, lead columnist for the Chicago Journal. Deuce normally writes about politics, but every once in a while her search for a good story brings her face to face with more trouble than she can handle.

The first Deuce mystery, "The Someday File," won wide reader and critical acclaim. The second, "The Hunting Ground," is being hailed as even better.

The series is set in Chicago, a city I have loved since I was in college and which I have called home for years. I set the stories here because Chicago is such a great character in its own right. The stories I can build on these bones – quite literally in the case of “The Hunting Ground” – have infinite possibilities.


Jean’s news career included serving as an investigative and projects reporter and editor for The Associated Press in New York City and Washington, D.C., The Cox Newspapers and New York Newsday in Washington, D.C. and the St. Petersburg Times in Washington, D.C. and Florida.

Jean has won multiple awards, including the Worth Bingham Prize, the Polk Award, and is an eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.