It is easy these days to blame the mentally ill for crimes and there is no doubt that Cameron Jordan is mentally ill. There is no doubt that his finger prints were all over the murder weapon. The weapon was a baseball bat which, like Cameron, is covered in the blood of the deceased Sara Long. It didnâ€™t help matters that he was found kneeling over the body holding the bat by her teenage friends.
Georgia Davis, a former Chicago Cop is working these days as a private investigator. While the circumstances of her leaving the force are rather murky, it is clear that she has a number of enemies and few friends among her former colleagues. One friend in particular is concerned about the speed at which Cameron Jordanâ€™s case is moving through the system. He quietly refers Cameron Jordanâ€™s sister and caretaker, Ruth Jordan, to Georgia Davis for help. Motivated by disgust regarding the cases she has been working and a need to seek justice, Georgia Davis plunges into a world of rich and twisted high school students, their politically connected parents and murder where the odds are stacked against the truth.
This was my first exposure to Libby Fischer Hellmanâ€™s work and it was quite the mystery ride. Georgia Davis is a multi faceted heroine with many secrets and issues and only a few were somewhat exposed in this novel. Unlike how many female private investigators are portrayed in mysteries where they either out drink and out cuss men or they are bumbling idiots more than ten novels later who still amazingly forget to take their gun to the abandoned warehouse at two in the morning, Georgia Davis is a normally intelligent human being who occasionally gets herself into situations any real person would and could get into while working the case. As such, she and by relation her world, are immensely believable and connect with the reader.
So too are the other characters as well as the descriptions of scenes set in and around the Chicago area.Â Then there is the interesting and complex case itself. Full of political intrigue, money and privilege as well as the universal problem of parents dealing with teenagers that are often taught by the educational system not to respect the authority of their parents, this novel works on many different levels while providing an entertaining read right to the last page. Much like Reed Farrel Colemanâ€™s â€œEmpty Ever Afterâ€ also due out in April from Bleak House, there is a same powerful poetic imagery at work here and yet the books are very different in style, tone and subject matter.
Hopefully this wonâ€™t be the last of Georgia Davis because this novel just begins to scratch the surface with her and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. If, like me you are new to this author, it might be well worth looking up some of her other titles. I certainly plan too.
Libby Fischer Hellmann
Bleak House Books (Division of Big Earth Publishing)
Kevin R. Tipple Â© 2008 The Clock Is Ticking And So Are We” out now at Crime and Suspense
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