A Picture of Guilt by Libby Fischer Hellmann
Libby Fischer Hellmann
You won’t want to lay down A Picture of Guilt until the last page.
The big news story in Chicago is the murder trial of Johnny Santoro, a dock worker whose girlfriend has been killed. Most Chicagoans are betting on a quick guilty verdict, but Ellie Foreman has doubts about his complicity – Santoro is strangely familiar to her.
Checking back to the outtakes of a video project in progress while the murder took place, Ellie finds evidence that could save Santoro from a lifetime behind bars. It seems the perfect alibi, but the tape is compromised by radio interference and Santoro goes to jail.
Review by Laurel Johnson:
In this follow up to her award winning first novel, An Eye for Murder, Ms. Hellmann has surpassed herself. A Picture of Guilt was a fast, engaging, and exciting read. If you enjoyed the author’s first novel, you will love this one.
Ellie Foreman is back, along with daughter Rachel and attentive lover David Linden. This time, the honest and uncompromising Ellie gets dragged into a botched murder investigation. As the plot unfolds, and potential witnesses turn up dead, Ellie’s world goes haywire. She’s stalked by thugs with Mafia and Tong connections, dogged by police and FBI. And that is the least of her worries. The more information she uncovers, the more dangerous her life becomes. The full picture, once it is revealed, goes beyond dangerous and frightening.
I don’t want to give this plot away. The story was well-crafted and intense, exciting and enticing right up to the last page. Murder-mystery-suspense readers will love this one. It’s a must read.
Review by Deborah Turrell Akinson:
I wish Ellie Foreman lived near me; she’s the type of woman I’d like to have as a friend. Libby Fischer Hellmann writes terrific, layered characters with believable problems and authentically flawed ways of handling them. A reader can relate. Plus, I’d slam the phone down on her ex-husband, too.
Ellie gets on a roller-coaster of ride of danger and thrills in A Picture of Guilt when, in her forthright way, she defends a man that she is convinced couldn’t be guilty of the crime of which he is accused. She has a picture of Johnnie Santoro, drugged-out and staggering, in the background of one of her commercial video projects for the Chicago water district. The tape is stamped with the time of the murder he allegedly committed.
Unfortunately, unexplained radio interference on the tape makes Ellie an easily discredited witness at the hands of a hardnosed prosecutor. Not long after the trial, Ellie’s business takes a nosedive. No one wants to hire a loser, plus the economy has been in the tank. In addition, suspicious occurrences increase Ellie’s worries about her own safety and that of her rebellious teen-aged daughter, Rachel.
Ellie’s father, who is a wonderful character, and her lover, David, both warn Ellie to back away from the problem of proving Santoro’s innocence. Even Ellie discovers that he’s an aggressive, ill-connected, spurious character. But another young woman, a frightened one who came to Ellie for help, dies.
Thus Hellmann raises the level of suspense. Ellie recognizes that there is a much bigger reason behind Santoro’s frame-up and she knows she is involved in a way that she can’t ignore. Even if she wanted to, other people won’t let her. With an informative and picturesque tour of the inner workings of Chicago’s metropolitan water supply, Hellmann leads Ellie to the discovery of a horrific plot. You won’t want to lay down A Picture of Guilt until the last page.