The Action-Packed Deuce Mora Mystery Series

Meet Deuce Mora Who Never Met A Mystery She Could Ignore

Jean Heller, a former journalist and eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee--including for her first novel, Maximum Impact, is the author of the award-winning, critically acclaimed Deuce Mora Mystery Series. Deuce is a columnist for a financially troubled Chicago daily newspaper. She usually writes about issues plaguing her city. There are plenty of those to keep her occupied.

But Deuce keeps bumping into senseless, horrific crimes that steer her onto reporting paths that lead straight into more trouble than she ever wanted to meet. The bad guys need to know a couple of things about Deuce: she is tenacious, she is unstoppable, and she knows how to fight. But she is also very human, with endless empathy for the victims whose lives cross hers. She is no Marvel Comic superhero. She has weaknesses and self-doubts and a few faults, just like the rest of us. Readers say they love that she seems so “real.”

Ill Wind, Deuce Mora #4

Poe Meets Puzo in the World’s First Locked-Room Mob Mystery

Hard-hitting veteran reporter Deuce Mora is awakened in the pre-dawn hours and called to the scene of a gruesome hanging to identify the body of a dear friend, an FBI agent on the verge of taking down one of Chicago’s biggest mob operations. Deuce knows that it’s murder, but the authorities have no choice but to call it a suicide—the death scene was triple-locked from the inside.

The ill wind sweeping the Windy City has also whipped up two more unexplainable deaths—of perfectly healthy, able-bodied young mobsters, key witnesses about to flip on the top leaders of the mob operation. Neither the Chicago police nor the FBI can come up with a cause of death—and they’ve looked at every possibility they can imagine. 

But, our meticulous investigator, whose stock-in-trade is death-defying leaps of logic, fits together a couple of impossible puzzle pieces. The downside is that the bad guys figure out where their greatest exposure lies—and Deuce quickly becomes their new target.

Enter a Washington reporter who has been following the organized crime investigation for months at its source in DC. He and Deuce share a dark secret and he knows exactly where to apply pressure on her demons to keep her on the trail of her friend’s murderers.

But as the Windy City begins to look more and more like the Chicago of Al Capone days, with bodies turning up in the river and shoot-outs in public places, Deuce discovers she couldn’t walk away even if she wanted to. Whoever is at the top—and this is Chicago, so the top is always way up—will stop at nothing to shut down this investigation.


Creative. Imaginative. Compelling. Fast paced. Ruthless. Heartbreaking. Honest.


--Five-star review on Amazon

Maximum Impact

Ground Control Meets All the President’s Men

Three hundred thirty-three fatalities and no survivors. 

So begins Pulitzer Prize finalist Jean Heller’s chilling hard-boiled saga as a flight crashes on takeoff when one of its engines explodes in midair. After that, it’s a toss-up—you may or may not be able to catch your breath as the thriller loops and careens to a twisty climax.

The deadliest accident in U.S. aviation history means it’s the biggest week of journalist Steve Pace’s career. Much as he’s already over the horrors of the aviation beat, he has no choice but to rise to the occasion. He’s a whip-smart reporter with integrity and grit, and the body count is rising rapidly—outside the downed plane.

As he hunts down the ultimate scoop, he steps into what appears to be a Watergate-type cover-up. With the list of possible witnesses conspicuously dwindling, he figures it’s just a matter of time before someone blows the whistle—as long as they don’t mysteriously die first.

Fans of government conspiracy mysteries and reporter sleuths will find an inspiring hero in reporter Pace. Award-winning writer Jean Heller leverages her own journalistic prowess to spin together a complex web of a hard-boiled mystery. Each twist and turn of the investigation will pull mystery fans deeper into Pace’s quest, as he races against deadlines and death threats.

Why is Maximum impact included on Deuce Mora’s website? Because twenty-seven years after the events of Maximum impact, Steve Pace shows up in Chicago, railing a story that began in Washington but will end in Chicago. Pace hooks up with Deuce Mora in a confounding mystery in which both get more than they bargained for. And it’s not all good.


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

--The Boston Sunday Globe

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 terrorist 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…


“Wow, this was a winner! I could barely put it down. Well-written, lots of background and descriptions. The action was non-stop.”


--Five-star review on Amazon

The Hunting Ground, Deuce Mora #2

Deuce Mora Doesn’t Shy Away From Fights—She Picks Them. The Bigger, The Better.

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, and 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.


“If Deuce weren’t such a vulnerable yet clear-eyed narrator, the story could have become sensational and exploitive. But Heller adds human touches everywhere, especially bringing us the street kid, Charles, with whom Deuce falls in love and who breaks her heart. And ours. There is something here for everyone. A gripping mystery, a human interest tale, a political thriller, and a really good story exceptionally well told."

--David Ehrman, television writer/producer, Hollywood

The Someday File, Deuce Mora #1

Don’t Mess With The Mob … Unless You’re Deuce Mora.

Deuce Mora’s one tough cookie–a female sleuth with a conscience and an attitude–fiery, tough, athletic, and 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 a detective as a 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.

Vinnie shuns Deuce’s attempt to interview him, but Deuce persists. Her investigation uncovers three murder episodes spanning nearly sixty years, and they seem improbably connected. Finding Vinnie was the easiest part of this investigation. The rest of the job could kill her.


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

- Publishers Weekly


A Freebie: The Deuce Mora Prequel


Six feet tall redheaded Deuce Mora is a one tough cookie, a hard-hitting columnist with a conscience, a dirty fighter when she has to be, and most of all, a survivor. Bad guys really shouldn’t mess with her. But it wasn’t always so.

In this pulse-pounding short novel prequel to the captivating contemporary mystery series, we get the story behind the sleuth. She’s the sort of baby reporter here 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!