The Bone Shroud – Jean Rabe

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Irem Madigan’s wedding trip to Rome turns into a desperate search for an archaeological prize, and a struggle to stay ahead of a killer.

Set in and under Rome, The Bone Shroud is a love story wrapped in a perilous relic-hunt.

Irem flies to Italy to be the “best man” in her brother’s wedding. He’s marrying an archaeologist bent on revealing the graves of some famous ancient dead. Irem, an archivist at the Chicago Field Museum, becomes obsessed with the centuries-old mysteries.

Unfortunately, Irem discovers there are other players in the game, and some of them are playing deadly. Can she survive and uncover the ancient secrets?

Guest Post – Jean Rabe – What Vacation? What vacation - Jean Rabe

Irem Madigan, the main character in The Bone Shroud, takes an Italian vacation. Must be nice, eh? To get a passport and fly to the Eternal City. I wonder how many writers vacation inside their minds, spending all their time writing and not physically going on a vacation. I felt like I was right there with Irem, exploring the city, delving into the tunnels beneath it, taking a train south. It was sort of my vacation, too.

There’s a saying that writers don’t take vacations; that they write or think about writing. It’s true in my case, I’m obsessive about writing. I have all these stories bumping around in my brain. I know I don’t have enough time on this earth to tell them all.

I write every day. People email me and ask what a typical day in the life of a writer is, post the question to me on Facebook. I know what the typical day is for me and quite a few of my full-time writer friends. In my case I get up early. Very early. I have three dogs and I must take care of them first. Fed, played with, a romp in the yard, and they settle around my feet so I can write. I think writers should have dogs. They get you away from the keyboard for outside breaks and tennis ball tossing sessions, little walks, activities that get you moving so that when you return to the keyboard you are refreshed.

That’s my day. Get up early … on occasion ridiculously early if my Labrador heard an uninvited leaf blow through the yard. Let the dogs out. Let the dogs in. Feed the dogs. Play with the dogs. Let the dogs out. Let the dogs in. Go to my office and write write write. Take a break to let the dogs out. Throw some tennis balls. Take the pug for a little walk if the weather cooperates. Let the dogs in. Back to the office and write write write. Fix dinner. Feed the dogs. Let the dogs out. Settle in for the evening with a notebook for jotting chapter ideas during commercials of whatever I’m halfway watching. Toss some tennis balls. Let the dogs out. Let the dogs in. Go to bed. Rinse and repeat.

Looking at that paragraph makes my life seem boring. But I love it. I love to write. And when the weather is fine I write on a laptop on my back porch … and my dogs can spend as much time in the fenced-in backyard (complete with kiddie pool) as they desire. It’s a grand life for a writer. Truly, I love it and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

What about vacations? Sure, they’re on the agenda. I’ve been to a lot of states; toured the Canadian side of Niagara Falls; spent two amazing weeks in Australia; cruised to the Bahamas; flew to the Bahamas … the theme being I like warm weather. And on all of those vacations I took a little notebook and jotted down ideas for stories and novels and characters. In Australia I parked myself on a bench in the heart of Kings Cross—Sydney’s red light district—and took oodles of notes. I set a SF book there. Trips to Nashville provided fodder for several short stories and the idea for a novel that’s nested in my computer.

Many of my vacations involve stops at museums … the Smithsonian, of course—days there; Dayton Air Museum (four times); Kalamazoo Air Zoo Museum; a little museum in Appleton, Wisconsin, that was housed in a historic Masonic hall and had a great Houdini exhibit; the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and Museum; Indiana Military Museum; Chicago Art Institute; Field Museum (my character Irem works there); Willie Nelson Museum; Omaha Train Museum; Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum; the UFO Museum (Burlington, WI); Kenosha Public Museum; Kenosha Civil War Museum; etc. And zoos and roadside attractions, too. All of them story research and vacations rolled into one. Even trips to county fairs and outdoor concerts make it into my books. Sometimes I’ll even ask for a souvenir menu from a restaurant we’ve stopped at … got to feed my characters, you know. A writer is either writing, or thinking about writing.

Irem’s vacation … ah, I’d like to go to Italy someday, see all the things my character did. I’d also like to go to Poland. If I write a second Irem novel, I think she’ll go there.

Here’s an excerpt from The Bone Shroud, using a menu Jean found online:

Benito hooked his arm in hers, and they strolled without talking the length of the next block. On the corner a restaurant with a red and green awning had its front door propped open, the scents of seafood and other tempting aromas drifting out. “Shall we?”

“Don’t you have to get home to Lev?”

Benito shrugged. “He will have eaten hours ago. And I will have many nights to go home to him. Have had many nights already. For nearly a year we have lived together. I am enjoying your company, and I am hungry. You?”

“Very hungry.” She had lived with her significant other for more than three years. Would Lev and Benito last longer?

Benito ordered the Mussels Posillipo, and she settled on the Shrimp Renato. The menu was in Italian and English, and the description of “butterflied and broiled in a wine sauce topped with melted mozzarella cheese and prosciutto” sounded not too fancy … at least not compared to the other items. Irem preferred simple fare; McDonald’s and Taco Bell were her favorite places.

“May I select the wine?” Benito asked Irem.

“Sure. Yes, please.”

“Una bottiglia dei Riesling,” he told the waiter. “The Bollo, Veneto.” To Irem: “It is a fruit wine, not as fine as what was served last night, but light, with notes of peaches, pears, apricots. It will go well with our food.”

“Sounds good,” she said, deciding Benito was entirely responsible for her brother’s wine education.

Irem looked at the clock on the wall: almost nine p.m. The restaurant was more than half full.

“People in Rome eat at all hours,” he said. “Like New York, this city does not sleep.” He pulled out his cell phone and worried at the keys. “Telling Lev where we are.” A pause:

“He says back, godere, enjoy. Wait.” He stared at his screen. “Lev says also you must turn your phone on, Irem, and that you must meet him for lunch tomorrow.”

“Lev doesn’t think I have my phone on often enough. Thinks it should be on constantly. I just get tired of seeing people always always always staring at their phones instead of each other. Heads down all the time. It looks like they’re praying.”

“The off switch is your protest.”

“Yeah. An attempt to keep my humanity.”

“I really like you, Irem.”

“I’ll turn my phone on when we’re finished eating,” Irem said. “And, yeah, you’re right. Lunch with my brother would be nice.” Softer: “I’ve missed him. In Chicago he was a big part of my life.” She felt guilty, so caught up in the dig that her brother had drifted to the back of her mind.

They’d been fortunate to get a table by the window. She stared out at the cars passing and saw a man across the street just standing there. The lights from the business behind him brightened and showed that he was the one who’d bumped into them on the sidewalk a few blocks ago.


She shook off the eeriness of it and noticed string music playing softly in the background; hushed conversations from other tables accompanied it.

“I’m not sure Chicago sleeps either, Benito. I’ve an apartment downtown, not far from my parents’ bar. Any hour of the night I hear music and sirens. Except for college, I’ve spent my whole life in the city, so I’m pretty numb to the racket. But being underground today … it was weird, you know. When the Garcias finally turned off the CDs and the noisy generator finished charging the batteries for the other equipment, I could hear every breath, every footstep. I could hear silence. It was, I dunno, almost spooky.” She looked up as the waiter brought the wine and had Benito sample it. When she glanced out the window again, the man was gone.

jean at antique store3

Jean Rabe is the author of three dozen novels published by small and major presses, has been on the USA Today bestseller’s list, and is a former crime reporter. Jean lives in a tiny town in central Illinois that boasts a gas station, Dollar General, and a pizza place with slow service. She writes with dogs wrapped around her feet while listening to the “music” of passing trains.

She is active on Facebook and Twitter, blogs, and maintains a website: She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the International Thriller Writers, and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

When she’s not writing or editing, she tosses tennis balls to her dogs, indulges in fantasy football leagues, and fuses glass jewelry in her basement.

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One thought on “The Bone Shroud – Jean Rabe

  1. Pingback: Jean Rabe’s THE BONE SHROUD Blog Tour! – Let's Talk! Promotions

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