Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Libby Fischer Hellmann  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Mystery

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1949 in Washington DC

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Illinois Connection

Hellmann has lived in the Chicago area for over thirty years.

Biographical and Professional Information

Libby Fischer Hellmann is an award-winning writer who, according to the ''Chicago Sun-Times'', "has carved out an enviable position in the local mystery scene." Her books have been called "masterful" and "powerful". Her awards include being a finalist in the Benjamin Franklin Awards for mystery-suspense writing and a Readers' Choice award for Best First Book. Along with the books she has written, Hellmann also edited the acclaimed crime fiction anthology - [ ''Chicago Blues''] .When Hellmann is not writing, she conducts executive training programs. She has a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in Film Production from New York University. After eight years in television news, she spent eight years at Burson-Marsteller, a large public relations firm.In 2005-2006 she was the National President of Sisters in Crime. Hellmann also blogs with [ "The Outfit Collective"].

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Picture of Guilt, A: An Ellie Foreman Mystery (Ellie Foreman Series)
ISBN: 1590585151

Poisoned Pen Press. 2008

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 strange radio interference and Santoro goes to jail. Almost immediately, Ellie's world begins to shift: a suspicious vehicle follows her, the Chicago mob shows up, and the FBI wants to question her. She doesn't have answers, but she has questions of her own about the radio transmissions. Everything indicates that someone wants something from her, something bigger than the Santoro case. If only she could figure out what it is... A Picture of Guilt follows Ellie's award-winning debut in An Eye for Murder. Originally from Washington, DC, Libby Fischer Hellmann has lived in Chicago for 30 years and finds the contrast between the beautiful and the profane in that city a crime writer's paradise. There are four novels in the Ellie Foreman series.

Image of Death (Prime Crime Mysteries)
ISBN: 042519504X

Berkley. 2004

A surveillance tape showing the murder of a young woman is left on Chicago TV documentary producer, Ellie Foreman's doorstep. When she hands the video to police, they're not interested in who the woman was. Except Officer Georgia Davis, who joins Ellie to solve the crime.

A little digging reveals that the murder victim was a diamond courier with a dark history forged in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the USSR. And a little more digging leads them back home to money laundering, shady real estate deals, and the deadly price of dealing in diamonds.
An Image of Death brings together for the first time two of Chicago's finest female investigators in what became a prequel to Hellmann's 2014 best-selling thriller, Nobody's Child.

A Shot to Die
ISBN: 0425203107

Berkley. 2005

When she befriends a woman who claims that she was abandoned at a roadside rest stop, occasional sleuth Ellie Forman finds herself the target of a killer when the woman is shot dead, a brutal act of violence that unexpectedly exposes the secrets of the town. Original.

Jump Cut (Ellie Foreman Series)
ISBN: 1464205191

Poisoned Pen Press. 2016

Chicago video producer Ellie Foreman has been absent from thriller author Libby Fischer Hellmann's repertoire for almost a decade. Now, in Jump Cut, she's back...and is soon entangled in a web of espionage, murder, and suspicion that threatens to destroy what she holds most dear.
Hired to produce a candy-floss profile of Chicago-based aviation giant Delcroft, Ellie is dismayed when company VP Charlotte Hollander trashes the production and cancels the project. Ellie believes Hollander was spooked by shots of a specific man in the video footage. But when Ellie arranges to meet the man to find out why, he is killed by a subway train before they can talk. In the confusion, she finds a seemingly abandoned pack of cigarettes with a flash drive inside that belonged to the now-dead man.
Ellie gets the drive's contents decrypted, but before long discovers she's under surveillance. Suspecting Delcroft and the ambitious Hollander are behind it, she's unconvinced when Hollander tells her the dead man was a Chinese spy. Ellie and her boyfriend, Luke, try to find answers, but they don't realize how far they have ventured into the dangerous echelons of hidden power where more lives are on the line―including their own.

Easy Innocence (Georgia Davis Mysteries)
ISBN: 1932557660

Bleak House Books. 2008

Removed from the gritty streets of Chicago, the residents of the North Shore sleep easily in their million dollar homes. Easily, that is, until a local girl is discovered bludgeoned to death in the woods. Quick to blame the man with the bat, the North Shore returns to its version of normalcy. But the accused's sister isn't so willing to forget and hires Georgia Davisformer cop and newly-minted PIto look into the incident. What Georgia finds hints at a much different, darker answer. It seems that some privileged, preppy schoolgirls on Chicago's North Shore have learned just how much their innocence is worth to hot-under-the-collar businessmen. And while these girls can now pay for Prada, iPhones, and Jimmy Choos with their earnings, they don't realize that their new business venture may end up costing them more than they can afford...

Doubleback (The Georgia Davis Series)
ISBN: 1606480537

Bleak House Books. 2009

Little Molly Messenger is kidnapped on a sunny June morning. Three days later she's returned, apparently unharmed. Molly's mother, Chris, is so grateful to have her daughter back that she s willing to overlook the odd circumstances.

A few days later, the brakes go out on Chris's car.

An accident? Maybe. Except that it turns out that Chris, the IT manager at a large Chicago bank, may have misappropriated three million dollars. Not convinced that his daughter is safe, Molly's father hires PI Georgia Davis to follow the money and investigate Chris's death.

Doubleback, the sequel to the acclaimed Easy Innocence, reunites PI Georgia Davis with video producer Ellie Foreman (An Eye For Murder, A Picture Of Guilt, An Image Of Death, A Shot To Die For). The two women track leads from Northern Wisconsin to an Arizona border town, where illegal immigrants, smuggled drugs, and an independent contractor called Delton Security come into play. Georgia and Ellie go to great lengths to find the truth, and Georgia discovers that you can cross a line, but sometimes you have to double back.

Set the Night on Fire
ISBN: 0984067655

Allium Press. 2010

Someone is trying to kill Lila Hilliard. During the Christmas holidays she returns from running errands to find her family home in flames, her father and brother trapped inside. Later, she is attacked by a mysterious man on a motorcycle. . . and the threats don't end there. As Lila desperately tries to piece together who is after her and why, she uncovers information about her father's past in Chicago during the volatile days of the late 1960s . . . information he never shared with her, but now threatens to destroy her. Part thriller, part historical novel, and part love story, Set the Night on Fire paints an unforgettable portrait of Chicago during a turbulent time: the riots at the Democratic Convention . . . the struggle for power between the Black Panthers and SDS . . . and a group of young idealists who tried to change the world.

Nice Girl Does Noir: A Collection of Short Stories
ISBN: 1461087295

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2011

A collection of 15 crime fiction short stories in print., some of them award-winners, by author Libby Fischer Hellmann. The collection is divided into two parts: The Ellie Foreman/Georgia Davis stories (5) and Chicago Then and Now Other Places, Other Times (10) Note: This is the combined print version of Nice Girl Does Noir, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

ToxiCity: Georgia Davis Prequel (The Georgia Davis PI Series)
ISBN: 0984014101

Red Herrings, The. 2011

Libby Fischer Hellmann's thriller TOXICITY is as gritty as it is spellbinding. Populated with fully-realized characters, TOXICITY introduces us to Hellmann's signature heroine, Georgia Davis. But we meet Georgia ten years earlier, when she is a young and determined rookie on a Chicago police force. In Georgia's debut, we see her tenacity and strength, but also her vulnerability: the seeds sown for the woman she will become. TOXICITY works on all levels, drawing the reader inexorably into a web of deceit, heart-crushing loss, and righteous fury. This wicked brew explodes in a stunning and satisfying conclusion that answers every question. Hellmann pulls no punches. --J. Carson Black, best-selling author of THE SHOP and DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN

Ten years before EASY INNOCENCE, PI Georgia Davis was a police officer on the force in a Chicago suburb. And while homicides are rare on the North Shore, three bodies turn up in quick succession--all of them dumped in waste disposal dumpsters or landfills. The investigations into the murders test the mettle and professionalism of a combined police task force. Along the way, they also test the strength of Georgia's relationship with one of the detectives working the case. While Georgia, her detective boyfriend Matt, and his sometime partner John Stone pit their skills against those of an inventive killer, the daughter of a real estate mogul-- who just happens to have her eye on Matt -- complicates matters. A dark police procedural and thriller, TOXICITY is a prequel to the Georgia Davis PI series (EASY INNOCENCE and DOUBLEBACK).

TOXICITY won a Lovey Award for Best PI Novel at the 2012 Love is Murder conference.

A Bitter Veil
ISBN: 0983193819

Allium Press. 2012

A gripping literary thriller set against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution

It all began with a line of Persian poetry...
Anna and Nouri, both studying in Chicago, fall in love despite their very different backgrounds. Anna, who has never been close to her parents, is more than happy to return with Nouri to his native Iran, to be embraced by his wealthy family. Beginning their married life together in 1978, their world is abruptly turned upside down by the overthrow of the Shah, and the rise of the Islamic Republic.
Under the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Republican Guard, life becomes increasingly restricted and Anna must learn to exist in a transformed world, where none of the familiar Western rules apply. Random arrests and torture become the norm, women are required to wear hijab, and Anna discovers that she is no longer free to leave the country.
As events reach a fevered pitch, Anna realizes that nothing is as she thought, and no one can be trusted... not even her husband.

Havana Lost
ISBN: 193873338X

The Red Herrings Press. 2013

Honors and Accolades
-- Finalist in Foreword Review Magazine's Thriller of the Year contest 2013
-- "Notable Page-Turner" in Shelf Unbound Magazine's Book of the year -- 2014
-- Honorable Mention in Chicago Writers Association Best Fiction Book 2013

On the eve of the Cuban Revolution, headstrong 18-year-old Francesca Pacelli flees from her ruthless Mafia-boss father in Havana to the arms of her lover, a rebel fighting with Fidel Castro. Her father, desperate to send her to safety in the US, resorts to torture and blackmail as he searches the island for her. So begins the first part of a spellbinding saga that spans three generations of the same family. Decades later, the family is lured back to Cuba by the promise of untold riches. But pursuing those riches brings danger as well as opportunity, and ultimately, Francesca's family must confront the lethal consequences of their choices. From the troubled streets of Havana to the mean streets of Chicago, HAVANA LOST reveals the true cost of chasing power instead of love. HAVANA LOST is award-winning author Libby Fischer Hellmann's tenth novel and third thriller that explores how strife and revolution affect the human spirit. The novel is a testament to Hellmann's gift for authentic historical detail as well as her talent for writing compulsively readable thrillers.

Nobody's Child: A Georgia Davis Novel of Suspense (Georgia Davis PI Series) (Volume 4)
ISBN: 1938733460

Red Herrings, The. 2014

Finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense.

Finalist for the 2015 Shamus Award, Best PI Indie Novel
Finalist in the Chicago Writers Association -- Fiction Category
Shortlisted for the Kindle Book Review Awards: Mystery/Thriller category
Finalist in Mystery-Suspense in USABooks 2015 Award
In Hellmann's 11th crime thriller and the 4th Georgia Davis novel, a bloodstained note left for Chicago PI Georgia Davis reveals the shocking existence of a half-sister she never knew about. Her sister, Savannah, is pregnant and begging for Georgia's help.Determined to track her down, Georgia finds herself heading deep into the secretive and dangerous underworld of Chicago's illegal sex trafficking business. But she soon discovers that trafficking is just a small part of the horrifying and deadly situation in which her new sister is caught up. Even worse, as Georgia tries to extricate Savannah, she comes up against an old enemy determined to make sure neither woman will escape alive.In the fourth crime thriller of the series, Georgia faces her toughest challenge yet--and one she might not survive.

Praise for The Georgia Davis Series:

"Hellmann brings to life the reality of bullying among teenage girls with enough twists and turns to keep you reading. Highly recommended."
-- Starred Review, Library Journal, Easy Innocence

"There's a new no-nonsense female private detective in town: Georgia Davis, a former cop who is tough and smart enough to give even the legendary V.I. Warshawski a run for her money." --Chicago Tribune on Easy Innocence

"DOUBLEBACK moves with twists, insightful juxtapositions, and many layers. Hellmann doesn't need to"doubleback." She's indisputably crossed the line into the realm of great crime fiction writers." --Crimespree Magazine

"Hellmann writes in many genres, but herGeorgia Davis series may just be one of the best crime thriller series being written today." -- The Dirty Lowdown on ToxiCity
"Hellmann writes with the economy and emotional punch of classic crime novelists like Lawrence Block. And she has created a perpetrator who is complex, realistic and completely unexpected." Peg Robarchek, on ToxiCity

The Incidental Spy
ISBN: 1938733843

Red Herrings, The. 2015

Young Lena Bentheim is forced to flee Nazi Germany for Chicago in 1935, leaving her family and boyfriend behind. After learning English, she eventually finds a new life as a secretary in the Physics Department of the University of Chicago. She meets and marries another German refugee scientist and has a child. Then tragedy strikes, and Lena is forced to spy on the nuclear fission experiments at the U of Chicago. A novella set in the early years of the Manhattan Project, The Incidental Spy is another fascinating historical thriller by Libby Fischer Hellmann, also the author of the highly acclaimed stand-alone thrillers Set the Night on Fire, A Bitter Veil, and Havana Lost.

War, Spies & Bobby Sox
ISBN: 1938733975

Red Herrings, The. 2017

As World War II rages across Europe and the Pacific, its impact ripples through communities in the heartland of America. A farm girl is locked in a dangerous love triangle with two Germans soldiers held in an Illinois POW camp ... Another German, a war refugee, is forced to risk her life spying on the developing Manhattan Project in Chicago ... And espionage surrounds the disappearance of an actress from the thriving Jewish community of Chicago’s Lawndale. In this trio of tales, acclaimed thriller author Libby Fischer Hellmann beautifully depicts the tumultuous effect of war on the home front and illustrates how the action, terror, and tragedy of World War II was not confined to the front lines.


Double Back

  • Autumn Great Lakes Great Read, Great Lakes Bookseller Association, 2009
  • Easy Innocence

  • Starred Review, Library Journal
  • An Eye for Murder

  • Winner, Readers Choice for Best First Novel, Love is Murder conference
  • Havana Lost

  • Finalist, Thriller of the Year contest, Review Magazine, 2013
  • Notable Page-Turner Book of the Year, Shelf Unbound Magazine, 2014
  • Honorable Mention, Best Fiction Book, Chicago Writers Association, 2013
  • Nobody's Child

  • Finalist, Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense
  • Finalist, Shamus Award, Best PI Indie Novel, 2015
  • Finalist, Chicago Writers Association Fiction Category
  • Finalist, ?Fiction

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    Inside Cuba Program

    Author Libby Hellmanns Havana Lost takes place in Cuba during the Revolution of 1958-59 and during Cubas Special Period in the early 1990s. In addition to visiting Cuba, Hellmann did extensive research on the country and its history. With Cuba capturing current headlines, Hellmanns PowerPoint presentation, highlighted by many of her own photos, will deepen understanding of our neighbor only 90 miles away. (Adults; 60 min; $275 with permission to sell books)

    A Sketch of Iran The Country and its Culture Program

    Hellmanns A Bitter Veil takes place in revolutionary Iran, which required extensive research by the author. Hellmann shares a slide presentation about Irans people, architecture, customs, and culture. With Iran so much in the news today, this presentation moves beyond the rhetoric to deepen understanding of this fascinating country. (Adults; 60 min; $275 with permission to sell books)

    Self-publishing Doing It by the Book Program

    Compulsively readable thriller author Libby Fischer Hellmann explains her move to self-publishing and how to do it right. Workshop includes the differences, benefits, drawbacks, and costs of doing it yourself compared to traditional publishing. Includes handouts and how-tos. (Adults; 60 min; $300 with permission to sell books)