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View the Full List of Jean Heller’s Novels

Ill Wind. Deuce Mora #4

Poe Meets Puzo—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 it’s murder, but the authorities have no choice but to call it a suicide – the death scene was triple-locked from the inside.

And with that, author Heller, a former journalist and frequent Pulitzer nominee, takes her place with Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the great Edgar Allan Poe himself as one of the few authors ever to pull off a locked-room murder. In this one, half the fun is trying to figure out the locked-room puzzle. And the delight of finding one in a contemporary mob mystery.

The other half, of course, is the tenacious Deuce herself, the tough, hard-boiled, and ever-human reporter who goes places the cops don’t even know about. And Heller’s intricate, action-packed mystery story.

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 everything they can think of – 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 D.C. 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.

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 Steve Pace shows up in Chicago, trailing a mystery with its origins in Washington but its culmination in Chicago, where he hooks up with Deuce in a confounding mystery. Both get more than they bargained for, and it’s not all good.

Burning Rage. Deuce Mora #3

Motive: Possible Terrorism. M.O.: Arson. Target: 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.

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. 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.

And that's a challenge Deuce Mora can't ignore.

The Someday File

Don’t Mess. With the Mob—Unless You’re Deuce Mora

It can be an unpleasant surprise when the kitten you bought as a pet grows up to be a man-eating tiger. That’s pretty much what happens to Deuce Mora, a columnist for the Chicago Journal, one of those big-city newspapers struggling to stay solvent in a world that considers them relics of a bygone era.

Deuce needs a column, so she digs out of her “ideas” file an old tip that should be, at best, a human interest story. It is the tale of Vinnie Colangelo, an aging, low-level Chicago mobster living on beer, bourbon, and regret. Deuce finds him in a seedy Cicero bar late one afternoon, already drunk and resolute in his determination not to talk to her.

Afraid for Vinnie’s safety in the boozy world he inhabits, Deuce gives him a ride home and thus seals his brutal fate. When Deuce learns the next day that Vinnie has been tortured and murdered, she is left with more guilt than she can shoulder, more curiosity than she can ignore, and in more danger than she can imagine.

The mobster’s final words to her shove her into a world of political and criminal intrigue and confront her with three horrific crimes that span nearly six decades. Can all of them be linked?

It is a mystery Deuce will either solve or die in the trying. But to succeed Deuce must face up to her own worst fears and find the strength to see her mission through in the face of impossible odds.

This is a story that could only be set in Chicago, a city that rises as the principal character in any book it inhabits.