August, 1944, Prague is where the story begins with a seemingly casual exchange. But in wartime, is any act, any one thing, trivial? Decades later, in contemporary Chicago, the consequences emerge through the medium of television. Documentary filmmaker Ellie Foreman gets a letter prompted by the success of her show “Celebrate Chicago.” One viewer was the elderly Ben Sinclair. When he suddenly dies, his landlady Mrs. Fleischman finds Ellie’s name among his effects and writes to her. Ellie, who hasn’t a clue about a connection to Ben, is curious. And she agrees to help dispose of Ben Sinclair’s possessions. She became a filmmaker to help people tell their stories. The books and wartime relics Ben left behind—will they be enough to tell his?
All too soon, Mrs. Fleischman dies. Then Ben’s things are stolen from Ellie’s suburban home. The single mom, working to move past her ex, doesn’t know what to think. But she has to scramble for work and is soon embroiled in producing a campaign video for a steel magnate running for a Republican seat in the Illinois Senate. Despite these distractions, Ellie stays focused on her odd link to the dead man and turns to her father, a retired lawyer with deep roots in Chicago’s Jewish community, for insights into the mystery of Ben Sinclair. In time, a terrifying scenario develops that reaches back into several pasts. From the political present of the North Shore to the buried memories of the city’s ethnic neighborhoods, the components of Ben’s story eventually merge into an explosive climax.
AN EYE FOR MURDER is the sequel to the author’s award-winning short story "The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared." EYE was nominated for The Anthony Best First Award when it was first published.
PRAISE FOR AN EYE FOR MURDER
“Sharp humor and vivid language distinguish Hellmann’s Chicago-set debut. Ellie Forman, a recently divorced suburban mom, supports herself and her daughter by making documentaries, including a historical film, Celebrate Chicago, which has gained her local fame. The discovery of her name on a scrap of paper among the effects of an elderly gentleman, recently deceased in a Chicago rooming house, sets off a sinister chain of events and weaves an ever tightening web of intrigue. Preoccupied with her former husband’s mounting stock losses, Ellie fails to put the pieces together until two more deaths and two attempted murders hit close to home. When her ex disappears and leaves her with a staggering amount of debt, Ellie panics, then turns to her fear into determination to control her destiny. After taking on a new assignment to produce a campaign video for GOP Senate candidate Marian Iverson, she uncovers coincidences too startling to ignore. Soon Ellie is digging into a legacy of money and murder dating back to WWII and the Holocaust. A masterful blend of politics, history and suspense, this novel is well worth reading despite an overly complicated plot. Ellie is an engaging amateur sleuth whose wisdom grows as she learns the hard way that ‘Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.’ Readers will hope they won’t have to wait too long for Ellie’s return.” -**Publishers Weekly**
"Libby Fischer Hellmann has written a wonderful thriller. Triggered by a seemingly trivial exchange of intelligence in Prague near the end of World War II, the story quickly moves to contemporary Chicago, where the already harried life of Ellie Foreman is turned upside down by the death of an elderly man she can't recall ever even meeting. An Eye For Murder is a clever mystery puzzle within a beautifully wrought novel." -Jeremiah Healy author of the John Francis Cuddy mysteries "
"Complicated, fascinating. Hellmann has a beautifully tuned ear, which makes many of her scenes seriously funny. Her film-editor instincts tell her when to let a scene run on and when to cut away." -**Dick Adler,** Chicago Tribune