About Jean

The Renowned Author Behind the Deuce Mora Series


A Writer's Life

My name is Jean Heller and I started my first novel when I was in the third grade. It was a story about people living at the center of the earth. I liked the idea, 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.

While I was still a working journalist, Forge, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, published my first complete novel—a thriller called Maximum Impact. That was 1993. Maximum Impact  was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and is now being released again as a prequel to Deuce Mora #4, Ill Wind.

Chicago is my favorite city on earth, and the years I lived there were glorious. That’s why it is the setting for the Deuce Mora books and why we have included some iconic photos of this great metropolis on this page. Enjoy them.

Sculpture Chicagoans call, “The Bean” in Millennium Park
Sculpture Chicagoans call, “The Bean” in Millennium Park
Chicago’s acclaimed Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre and Jazz Band

Credit: William Frederking Photography
Chicago’s acclaimed Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre and Jazz Band Credit: William Frederking Photography

News Career

My mother once confronted me and my husband. She placed her hands on her hips and asked, “Can’t one of you hold onto a job?” She was joking—sort of. My husband and I were both journalists, and we kept getting better jobs, which required a lot of moving. Eventually, I discovered that this 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.

Before fiction writing, I served as an investigative and projects reporter and editor for the following:

  • The Associated Press

    New York City and Washington, DC

  • The Cox Newspapers

    Washington, DC

  • Jackson Hole Guide

    Jackson, Wyoming

  • New York Newsday

    Washington, DC

  • The St. Petersburg Times

    Washington, DC and Tampa Bay, Florida


  • Worth Bingham Prize
  • Polk Award
  • Eight-time Nomination For The Pulitzer Prize, twice a finalist
  • The Clapper Award
  • Robert F. Kennedy Award

The Critically Acclaimed Deuce Mora Series

My new series features Deuce Mora, a lead columnist for the Chicago Journal. She 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 Deuce Mora Mystery series is set in Chicago, a city I have loved since I was in grad school, and which I called home for years. I still think of it as home and return often. I set the stories there because Chicago is such a great character in its own right. The stories I could build on these bones have infinite possibilities.



The first Deuce mystery, The Someday File, won wide reader and critical acclaim. The second, The Hunting Ground, was hailed as even better and was awarded the Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book of 2018 medallion.

As Burning Rage and Ill Wind arrived, readers and critics began saying each succeeding Deuce book was better than the last. I have to work hard to keep the streak going.