HARCOURT PUBLISHER:  (August 1, 2005)
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A tragic house fire puts arson investigator Billy Nightingale and State Trooper Sebastian Bly on the trail of an unusual killer.

While tracking the clues at a fire scene, Billy and Sebastian discover a dangerous and determined arsonist whose motive is attention and whose victims are her own children. One mysterious baby, however, survives. She is rescued by Billy, adopted by Sebastian and his wife, Annie, and named Merry to signify the happy new life they intend to give her. Believing that she can start all over again, blank slate, tabula rasa, Sebastian, Annie, and Billy create a fictional past for Merry, manufacturing a mother who was a ballerina instead of a murderess, and a past that was romantic instead of life-shattering.

Will her charmed family circle succeed in protecting young Merry from her terrible past?  Or will she be condemned to confront a demonic woman determined to destroy her?

Tabula Rasa is not only a gripping and entertaining novel, but also a sensitive, warm exploration of what defines a family and an individual.

Praise for Tabula Rasa

“Reuben is the gold standard of arson procedurals – trust me – you’ll never forget Tabula Rasa.”  David M. Kinchen – HuntingtonNews Network 

“A poignant crime drama.”   Publishers Weekly 

“I was gripped to the end. The fires are brilliant and the secret is dark. Shelly Reuben is an expert witness and a dynamic writer.”  Peter Lovesey – Diamond Dagger Lifetime Achievement  Award Recipient – Crime Writers Association

Tabula Rasa is a stunning novel. It shocks and revolts you, and then restores your faith in humanity. Reuben writes not only of fire, but with fire.”  Dorothy Salisbury Davis – Grand Master Recipient of The Mystery Writers Of America

“A compelling, intriguing tale that deals with the exposure of a calculated murderer whose victims are close to home. Reuben’s mesmerizing tale succeeds on a variety of levels, exploring the growth of an individual whose past is a blank slate (Tabula Rasa).”   Ray Walsh – Lansing State Journal

“Shelly Reuben is an experienced arson investigator as well as a licensed private detective, which lends authenticity to her novels. Better yet, she is an adroit storyteller with a gift for creating quirky and compelling characters.”  Robert Wade – The San Diego Union-Tribune

You’re being seduced by a very capable writer – the last act is likely to take your breath away. It establishes Reuben as a master of suspense and dramatic structure.”  Jules Brenner – The M Files

Tabula Rasa is simply terrific! The characters are well drawn, complex and unique. The plot is both horrifying and scrumptious with fascinating information about arson, adoption, dancing and the consequences of an obsessive quest and lies told to protect a loved one. It is scintillating and an absolute must read!”   Andrea Sisco – Armchair Interviews