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Six feet tall redheaded Deuce Mora’s one tough cookie–a hard-hitting columnist with a conscience–fiery, tough, athletic, a dirty fighter when she has to be, but most of all, a survivor. Bad guys really shouldn’t mess with her. But it wasn’t always so. In this pulse-pounding prequel to the captivating contemporary mystery series—call it a short novella or long short story–we get the story behind the sleuth. She’s a baby reporter here, the sort who gets sent out to interview an exciting new cookbook author.

Even then, Deuce had a way of being in the wrong place at the right time, and ending up with the story no one else could get. No one would even have volunteered for this one! Because Deuce ends up badly injured and trapped in a storm cellar, literally for days. Why doesn’t she get rescued earlier? Ah…thereon hangs the tale. And Deuce’s life. If this one doesn’t whiten your knuckles and raise your pulse rate, we’ll give you two freebies!

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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.





A mild mid-winter day draws Chicago newspaper columnist Deuce Mora to a South Side nature preserve where she plans a simple outing to get some fresh air and exercise. But a shocking discovery hurls her into a personal and professional train wreck.

Someone is kidnapping and murdering the city’s children. As the body count rises and the threat creeps in on Deuce, she finds herself in a quagmire of international intrigue.

Nobody seems willing to help her uncover the conspiracy behind the horror. The police won’t act or even talk about the crimes. Neither will the mayor, or the medical examiner, or the Department of Children and Family Services. The very people who should be at the forefront of protecting children seem intent on helping the killers.

It is a deadly dilemma in which the government of the United States could be Deuce’s worst enemy.

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

-The Boston Sunday Globe








Deuce Mora, a columnist for the struggling Chicago Journal, thinks she is searching for a human-interest story when she walks into a seedy neighborhood bar in a suburb of Chicago. What she finds is Vinnie Colangelo, an aging mobster living on bad beer, cheap bourbon and regret for the life he wasted.

Deuce’s meeting with Vinnie thrusts her into the nexus of three murderous acts committed over nearly six decades.

“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
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?









Book Cover Handyman Jean HellerHandyman 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.

“It has been a long time since I have read a book that I couldn’t put down. . .The story was riveting, intense and compelling. Great characters with unexpected twists and turns but not predictable in its outcome, which made it fun. It was edge-of-your-seat suspense until the final outcome.”

-Paul T.












maximpactfrontcoverThe 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.

“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