“DOUBLEBACK” marks the return of P. I. Georgia Davis as well as another very good book by Libby Fischer Hellman. It also unites Georgia and Ellie Foreman (An Eye For Murder and others) in a case that resonates for parents everywhere.
It is a morning like any other in June when Molly Messenger is kidnapped. The mother, Christine Messenger, calls a friend who in turn calls Ellie for help. The eight year old vanished from a day camp in the Chicago area. The kidnappers have threatened to kill Molly if law enforcement becomes involved and Mom is a shattered wreck. Ellie can’t help but respond to her and asks Georgia Davis to look into things. They go back and Georgia knows if Ellie’s asking for help it is a bad sign.
From the start, Georgia doesn’t want the case. The Police, The FBI, etc, should be involved but they aren’t. Christine Messenger is clearly hiding something and her various explanations don’t really explain things. In a matter of three days little Molly is back home and while the case isn’t solved, the parents ordeal is over. The police, who were working the case, have zero leads and zero reasons as to why Molly was kidnapped and with her return are moving on to more current matters. Just when all consider it over, Mom is killed in a freak accident leaving behind a motherless daughter, devastated ex-husband and some bizarre circumstances involving her job at a major bank. Wanting answers to everything, the ex-husband hires Georgia to investigate in a case that will lead her across state lines before finally coming home.
Much like “Easy Innocence” there are dark nebulous forces at work through out the novel. Slowly, author Libby Fisher Hellman reveals clues in a tale that has links to both national and local human interest stories. By using two different major series characters, the author provides an interesting and very different personality driven take on events through each of the characters. Ellie is, for the most part calm and controlled, while Georgia has a passion that drives her into dangerous and violent actions and situations. This device also turns into a drawback at different times in the novel as suspense with one character is pushed back for a chapter while the other major character is brought up to speed. The result, from a storytelling angle designed to build character nuance and complexity, does work. However, from a reader standpoint, the tactic became occasionally annoying and interrupted the natural flow of the novel.
Despite that flaw which will affect readers in different ways, the overall novel is a very good one where the author pulls you deep into her fictional world where everything becomes all too real. Billed and written as a sequel of sorts to the very good “Easy Innocence” it can easily be read as a stand alone.
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In my wife's memory and honoring a promise I made to Sandi, the blog continues...at least for now. If you would like to make a donation of support, you can do so at the links below. Most of the donated funds go to the purchase of medical supplies for me. Some of it goes to the purchase of various short story anthologies and collections which eventually are read and reviewed here.