Book Reviews: Doubleback by Libby Fischer Hellmann and Steeled for Murder by KM Rockwood

Libby Fischer Hellmann
Bleak House, October 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60648-052-6

Dynamite. It is not unusual for an author of crime fiction who has them, to bring together two or more protagonists from different series. It is less usual for the blend to be this successful, particularly when the two women involved are as different as are private investigator Georgia Davis, late of a North Shore (Illinois) suburban police department, and commercial television producer, Ellie Foreman. One is single, the other divorced with a teen-aged daughter.

Davis is a classical tough female investigator, although she lacks enough experience to avoid some fairly obvious traps the author throws at her. Foreman, on the other hand, the more cautious but more experienced mystery solver, is a good stay-at-home worrier. The point being the two women play well off each other. One of the interesting twists is the way the two become involved in this nasty thing.

Foreman drags a reluctant Davis into an investigation of the kidnapping of a child, little Molly Messenger. Davis knows the police have far better resources to handle this, but Foreman is persistent. Later, as the tension winds up and the question of why Molly suddenly reappears, her mother, an IT manager at a big local bank, has a questionable accident, and then her boss has a similar mishap. Suspicions rise and very quickly, PI Davis take the bit in her teeth, in a manner of speaking. The tables are turned and Foreman is unable to restrain her new friend from haring off on what is clearly becoming a dangerous case of the highest order.

Born of current mid-east activity, the novel carefully blends first and third points of view in a way that enhances the action and the mystery. This is a fine example of a novelist who stretches her talent and her vision to create a fast-paced, enthralling work of fiction. I for one hope we see more of these two competent women working together.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, July 2013.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.


Steeled for MurderSteeled for Murder
A Jesse Damon Crime Novel
KM Rockwood
Terpsichore/Musa Publishing, April 2012
ISBN 978-1-61937-859-9
Trade Paperback

Life is tough when you’ve been in prison for a murder you didn’t commit. At the time it seemed the best deal to make and now that you’re out, what do you do? This is the story of one such man and his struggle to get his life together after incarceration. Of course, there are countless obstacles, and everywhere he turns, there’s the potential of returning to prison.

Just trying to make his life the best he can after being in prison for close to twenty years, Jesse Damon has found a good job at a steel fabrication plant. Unfortunately, he runs afoul of a murder and the cops eye him as the number one suspect. When the detectives in charge of the investigation just won’t seem to let him be, Damon decides he needs to find the real killer. In the process he becomes involved with the dead man’s wife and kids, a co-worker and her children, and various suspicious individuals, some of whom seem to think Damon might want to continue in whatever shady deal the murdered man had going.

I enjoyed the atmosphere, subdued, veiled, which fit the winter season. It showed reality, that life is not rosy for the ex-con. But Damon’s character is essentially good despite his conviction. There’s hope and promise in this story. The murder mystery almost takes a back seat to the character development but knowing Damon was innocent, kept me reading to find out the truth. Good, tight writing by a knowledgeable author. If more Damon mysteries are on the way, then the series has the potential to be a winner.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, September 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.