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 was nominated for an Anthony Award (Best First), which is one of the most prestigious awards in the mystery community.
“A masterful blend of politics, history, and suspense, this novel is well worth reading… sharp humor and vivid language… Ellie is an engaging amateur sleuth. Readers will hope they won’t have to wait too long for Ellie’s return.” (Publishers Weekly)
“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.” (Chicago Tribune)
"Taut, compelling and gripping, An Eye For Murder is one of the best mysteries I've read in years! Fast-paced, cleverly crafted, complex drama…I highly recommend it.” (Terri Figueroa, Romance Reviews Today)
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How Have I Not Heard of this Author Before???
satisfying, believable, and entertaining
I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher, and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review.
Overall, the story is satisfying and believable and entertaining. All the things one wants in an audio thriller. This is billed as the first in the series of Ellie Foreman mysteries. It might be worthwhile checking out the rest.
Capably voiced by Karyn O’Bryant, the audio version of An Eye for Murder by Libby Fisher Hellmann is not overly produced with sound effects and distracting mood music, which I always appreciate. The story did require some accent work, and a little emotional depth from the narrator, all of which Ms O’Bryant handled masterfully. In fact, for the whole of the production, I was only pulled out of the narration at one point during a scene describing how Ellie dealt with an unrealized romantic moment. During a few paragraphs where Ellie describes how she brought herself to completion, the narration felt just a little disconnected.
There are also a few very minor issues with the story. For one, I find it very difficult to believe that the liberal daughter of a Jewish WWII survivor would be easily swayed to believe that a TEA Party darling could be even a little bit pro-union and pro-choice and still have party backing. There’s also a short scene describing in too much detail how Ellie chooses to hide a copy of an old document. She hid it in a seldom used window-well. That’s all we need to know. But these two issues and a few other quibbles are nothing to complain about.
- J. David Core