By Denise Baton

An Eye for Murder opens with a prologue set in Prague, August 1944. The delicate suspense that Hellmann creates on a misty night in Prague is carried over into the next scene and is sustained like carefully spun glass throughout the story, which actually takes place in present day Chicago.

Chapter one opens with Ellie Foreman, our heroine, in a heart to heart with her daughter, Rachel, brought on by the question, “Mom, have you ever had oral sex?” There is a wonderful juxtaposition of far reaching issues and the immediacy of everyday in Hellmann’s work. It makes for exponentially ever-increasing stakes which are constantly integrated with the real grit of life and it’s simple pleasures or annoyances. For example, ever since her divorce, Ellie’s garden looks like a nuclear winter. She simply can’t afford to pay for the upkeep. When her gardener, Fouad, offers to work for free and to tutor her in the fine arts of landscaping design she is relieved. Is there a divine hand in his offer? Ellie’s position of running from anything requiring a belief she can’t see, touch or taste creates for the reader a character that must know the answers to questions that drive the story at an unerring pace.

Ellie’s fine documentary filmmaking skill is brought to light when her project, CELEBRATE CHICAGO, receives recognition. The documentary reaps critical acclaim and Ellie receives a strange fan letter informing her of a Ben Sinclair who has died, leaving behind a box of belongings which include a scrap of paper with Ellie’s name on it. It seems there is some connection to the dead man and Ellie’s own father dating back to his youthful days of passion and intrigue.

Besides Ellie Foreman, there is another smart lady in this mystery, a politician, Marian Iverson who is well in her sixties. Marian is a slender, handsome woman. She cuts a smart figure, plus she’s witty and articulate with the right balance of professionalism and warmth. Ellie is hired by Marian to create a campaign video, particularly meant to polish up an image for mass consumption. What do politics have to do with gardening, love, a scrap of paper, Ellie’s dad and Rosie the Riveter? How exactly does all that spin back to Prague in 1944? You’ll have to read AN EYE FOR MURDER to find out.

Keep an eye on Libby Fischer Hellmann. This is her first book in the Ellie Foreman series.