High Crimes

High Crimes

by Libby Fischer Hellmann

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781938733956
Publisher: Elizabeth F Hellmann
Publication date: 11/01/2018
Pages: 330
Sales rank: 353,888
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.74(d)

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CHAPTER 1

"Where is she, Curt? Dena's never late." The ten minutes of generally accepted grace time had passed, but Dena was nowhere in sight. Ruth had texted and called every two minutes, but her messages went unanswered.

Curt, a bear of a man with shaggy brown hair, beard, and puppy-dog eyes, shrugged. "She's probably stuck in traffic." He gestured to the crowd from the wings of the stage. "Look at these folks! Did you ever imagine ... all this?"

Ruth dared to look out at the masses. Her breath caught. Thousands of people were streaming into Grant Park, three hundred sprawling acres in the middle of downtown Chicago. They were heading to the bandstand shell and stage at the southern end of the park. Ruth remembered the last time she'd been here, an unusually balmy November night in 2008. Obama had just won the election. It was a miracle that the entire world had shared.

Now, though, icy puffs of air aided by a stiff January wind frosted her cheeks and seeped through her coat. The crowd size wasn't nearly as large as Obama's, but people seemed buoyed by the cold, cheering and waving signs that proclaimed, "We Are the Resistance," "Never Give Up," and other political bromides. Some wore the knitted kitten hats that had become popular after the election. Most were grinning and joking as if the occasion were a rock concert or football game rather than a demonstration.

Curt peered up at the sky. "I hope there's a drone up there filming this. Maybe we could get the footage to use on social media."

Ruth glanced up, twisting the shoulder strap of her bag. "Yeah, good idea. But where is Dena?"

Another man, lean and lanky, the Jeff to Curt's Mutt, fiddled with a microphone stand on the center of the stage. He looked over at Ruth. "Chill. Traffic is shitty."

Ruth shook her head and waved her cell in the air. "She always picks up. But it's going to voice mail."

"Probably on the el." DJ ran a hand through his long blond ponytail. "But you're right. We can't wait forever. What do you want to do?"

"Give her another minute. Dena would never blow this off, DJ," Curt said. "Not after all her work."

A flood of memories washed over Ruth. The two of them in Dena's condo, full of plans and purpose. Working twenty-four-hour days, planning, eating junk food in the omnipresent blue-white light of their laptops. Hard to believe it had been more than a year.

"This is just the beginning!" DJ grinned. "After today, we'll have a real shot at accomplishing something."

But what if something happened? Dena had been getting those creepy calls. Ruth pushed the thought away. Lots of prominent people got crank calls, Dena had said dismissively. And she — they, Dena made sure to say — were famous. "Almost." They would laugh.

Some people in the crowd, clearly impatient, started to clap rhythmically. A signal for the show to begin. Others joined in. Ruth, DJ, and Curt exchanged glances. A wave of nausea climbed up Ruth's throat.

"Okay," Curt said. "Color me officially worried."

"Relax, people," DJ said. "Nothing bad's happened to Dena. She's indestructible."

"She was fine yesterday," Ruth said. "She was pumped."

"Did she go over what she was going to say?" DJ asked.

"Of course. She practiced — you know — rehearsed it with me. And Curt." She nodded at him.

"Well, you're número dos," Curt said. Was there a hint of resentment in his voice? Ruth wondered. "If she doesn't get here soon, you're on deck."

Ruth let out a tiny cry of terror. "I can't!"

"Why not?"

"There are thousands of people out there. They — they're expecting Dena."

DJ slipped his hands in his pockets. "The show must go on."

"There are way too many people. I'd rather die!"

"You have to try. Look, at least start. You're the only other person who knows what to say. You've been with Dena from the beginning."

"What do they say?" DJ added. "Pretend all the people in the crowd are naked?"

Curt waved a hand. "No. Just focus on what they need to hear. And feel. And do. That's what Dena would say."

"Yeah, but she's experienced at — at public speaking," Ruth said. "I've never done this before. I'm the backstage person."

DJ said, "Look, we'll help you out. And Dena will probably get here while you're talking. As soon she does, you're off the hook."

Ruth's eyes raked the crowd. "Oh my God. I really have to do this."

A whispery whine made them gaze upward. Curt grinned. "I knew it. Thar she blows!"

Ruth could just make out a speck in the sky. "A drone?" He nodded. "Maybe CNN, huh? Hope they'll give us their video."

"It's probably just channel five.'"

Most of the crowd was clapping now. Ruth could tell they were edgy.

"You ready?" DJ adjusted the mic. He tilted his chin in the direction of the crowd. "They are."

Ruth turned her back on the crowd. She had to center herself. Just then, the aroma of patchouli oil wafted toward her, discordant but familiar. Dena! Ruth whipped around. While the possibility of public speaking hung in the offing like a Christmas bauble, attracting and panicking her at the same time, now her anxiety melted away. Dena jogged up the steps to the stage, all energy, confidence, and red cheeks.

"Where have you been?" Ruth shouted above the noise.

"In traffic," Dena said breathlessly. "I had to ditch the car. Had to run all the way from Chicago Avenue. Give me a minute to catch my breath."

The crowd, realizing their leader had arrived, grew louder, more boisterous. Dena had it, Ruth had to admit. Whatever they called it now. Charisma. Magnetism. Eloquence. Ruth might be Tonto, but Dena was the Lone Ranger. An electric buzz seemed to emanate from under Dena's skin. Ruth could almost feel it make contact.

Despite his casual attitude earlier, DJ anxiously cut in. Was he feeling it too? "We have to start. Look at them." He gestured again toward the crowd.

Dena glanced out. So did Ruth. DJ was right. The crowd seemed to swell with anticipation. Ruth watched as Dena rolled her shoulders and started toward the mic. "Okay. You guys come out too. Stand behind me."

Ruth nodded. As if they knew the show was about to begin, the crowd noise suddenly dropped. In her quilted jacket, with her long black braid hanging down her back, Dena adjusted the microphone stand.

"Good morning, Resistance!!"

The crowd roared.

It was then that a crack-crack-crack spit through the air.

CHAPTER 2

Dena jerked. Her arms flew up, as if making a supplication. Then she collapsed on the ground. The crack and spit persisted. It was coming from above and to the side of the stage. Sweeping from the stage out to the crowd. Protestors in the front rows fell like dominoes. As the crowd began to realize what was happening, shrieks and cries erupted, and people in the front massed and swarmed those farther back in a panicked effort to escape. Protestors climbed or stomped over others, and the screams of people mowed down by their neighbors intensified. Thousands of confused, frightened people rushed the park's exits, scattering like cockroaches exposed to unexpected light.

Ruth was staring at the horrific scene when someone or something tackled her from the rear. Her feet went numb, she lost her balance, and she dropped. A tremendous weight pressed down on her. Pain so sharp she couldn't inhale. She was on her stomach, and she tried to roll over so the weight would fall off, but when she tried to move, nothing happened. She wanted to let the weight know she couldn't breathe, but she couldn't form the words. The edges of her vision grew dark. Just before she lost consciousness, she heard sirens.

CHAPTER 3

"Chicago's been overdue," Jimmy Saclarides said. "It was bound to happen."

Georgia Davis bristled. "How can you say that?" She rose from the couch where they were lying feet to feet watching the news. "What about the Chicago murder rate? It's up to three a day. You don't consider that domestic terrorism?"

"You have a point," Jimmy said. "But this isn't the same thing. You know that. I mean, the guy blew himself up afterwards. That's not your typical gangbanger."

Georgia headed into the kitchen of her small apartment. Jimmy was so damn evenhanded and fair. It was hard to summon up much self-righteous indignation. Probably one of the reasons she was attracted to him. She took a baby bottle out of the fridge, set it in a pan of water, and turned the heat on low.

"What are you doing?" Jimmy called.

"Heating up Charlie's bottle."

"But he's sleeping."

"He won't be for long."

As if on cue, they heard a muffled wail from the other room.

"Which came first, the bottle or the baby?" Jimmy cracked.

"Does it matter? I'll be back." She returned a moment later, cradling an infant in her arms. "Ready for your nighttime snack, Chuckie Cheese?" She raised her voice to that high pitch people used around infants. She'd sworn not to do it. It was pandering. Naturally, within a couple of hours of his birth she caught herself doing exactly that. Charlie seemed to like it, and Georgia could see him trying to make sense of sounds, tones, language. Smart kid. Now he stared at her. Georgia smiled. He smiled back.

Jimmy gazed at her. "I like the look."

"Don't get used to it. I'm just pinch-hitting for Vanna's boob."

Still, Georgia had to admit that at three months, with his hazel eyes and downy straw-colored hair, he could have been hers. She had the same blond hair, and while she had brown eyes to his hazel, there was something about his mouth and chin that reminded Georgia of herself. Then again, she and her half sister, Savannah, looked like full sisters.

"Vanna's at class, I assume?"

Georgia nodded. "I should have never introduced her to Sam." She shifted her weight so she could hand the baby to Jimmy. "You hold him while I get the bottle."

"Graphic design, isn't it?"

"Good memory." Samantha Mosele was her friend; maybe her only friend. They'd met at community college when Sam was studying design, Georgia sociology. Now Sam had her own company. Vanna, after learning what Sam did, decided she wanted to be a graphic designer too. It was a good idea. She did have a talent for drawing.

Now she felt Charlie's bottom and gave it a sniff. "Someone needs a clean diaper." She peered at Jimmy. "I don't suppose you want to change him?"

"Umm ... I'll feed him ...," Jimmy offered, as if they were negotiating where to go for dinner.

"Burp included?"

He nodded. "Sure."

Georgia sighed. "Spoken like a man without kids." She hoisted Charlie up. He started to fuss. "Hold on, little man. We gotta change you so you can poop into a clean diaper after you eat."

Jimmy's forehead furrowed. "I don't get it. Why change him now if you're just going to do it again in fifteen minutes?"

"Wouldn't you like a nice clean diaper to poop into?" Jimmy waved her off. "Whatever."

Georgia laughed and took the baby back into Vanna's room.

* * *

Afterward Georgia plopped back on the couch. "This baby-care stuff is not for the faint of heart."

Jimmy looked her over speculatively. "How are they doing? Really?"

"Charlie's a peach. Round and happy. Vanna seems happy too. Or should I say focused. Once I introduced her to Sam, they got along like, well, two peas in a pod."

"Run, Forrest, run."

"Exactly." Vanna had studied for and passed her GED online, then signed up for drawing classes. "She's a smart cookie when she's motivated."

"Takes after her sister."

"Compliments'll get you brownie points." She snuggled closer. "It's almost like the past year was only a bad dream."

Jimmy kissed her lightly. "You went to hell and back."

"So did Vanna. But maybe it was worth it." She gestured. "Look at our lives now."

"You said it." He gazed around the room. "Only one thing."

"What's that?"

"It's crowded in here."

Georgia looked around. Her small two-bedroom apartment in Evanston used to be spare, uncluttered. She liked it that way. It helped her concentrate on important matters. Now, though, cushions, books, and baby clothes crowded into corners. Her carefully arranged furniture, what little there was, had started to look bedraggled. Vanna and the baby shared Georgia's extra bedroom, which was no bigger than a closet to begin with, and now bulged with a twin bed, crib with the obligatory mobile, baby toys, and a diaper stand. Jimmy had a point.

"I guess. Vanna didn't inherit the clean-house gene."

Eight months had passed since she'd rescued Vanna and brought her home. Two months later Charlie made his appearance. It seemed like a logical progression to Georgia. Her life, once empty and uncharted, now had purpose. Georgia wanted a family, and the universe provided. It wasn't the family she'd imagined, but Vanna was in no condition financially or otherwise to get a place of her own.

Jimmy went on. "We haven't had much time to ourselves since Prince Charles made his appearance."

"I know." The memory buzz of long, intimate nights where they couldn't keep their hands off each other swept through her.

"Well, I might have a solution," Jimmy said.

She jerked her head up. "What?"

"Remember when Luke bought that condo in Northfield after Rachel's — um — ordeal? So Ellie could keep an eye on her?"

Georgia nodded.

"Well, Rachel just moved in with her boyfriend, so the condo is empty." When Georgia didn't respond, he went on. "I thought I might rent it from Luke."

Jimmy lived in Lake Geneva, about an hour away in Wisconsin. Which was great in summer but during winter months not so convenient. They'd been commuting since they'd met.

"But your job ... your work." Jimmy was the chief of police of Lake Geneva.

"I can drive it in forty-five minutes." He made a circular motion with his index finger. "I've got a siren, remember?"

"You'd take advantage of law enforcement perks for your own purposes?"

"If it means I can spend more time with you," he said, "no contest."

Georgia stroked his arm.

"And you could spend more time with me. Without Charlie. Or Vanna."

Georgia brightened but then frowned. "But what about money? You can't support two homes. Can you?"

"I've been offered the friends-and-family discount."

Georgia considered it. "Vanna can get her feet on the ground and experiment with life, without me in the way."

"Assuming you think she's ready."

"It's an open question. It's been less than a year."

Jimmy nodded. "I don't want to push you. Or Vanna. I just thought —"

"I know, and I love you for thinking that way." She drew her finger down his cheek. "I'll consider it."

"Well, I'm glad —"

Georgia shushed him with an index finger on his lips, then kissed him. He returned it eagerly.

"Oh, Jimmy," she whispered. He moved closer and folded her in his arms. She hoped they'd have enough time before Vanna got home.

CHAPTER 4

Ruth floated through the shallows of consciousness. Muted sounds that could have been chatter, an occasional bell, and padded footsteps registered through the fog. A faint antiseptic odor like the surface of a Band-Aid filled her nostrils, and she was a little girl again, her mother applying Mercurochrome to her skinned knee.

"Ruth? Ruth Marriotti?" she heard her mother ask. Not her mother. Ruth forced herself to swim through the black. As she rose, the voice grew louder, the odor sharper. She cleared her throat, wanting her mother to know she was there, but she couldn't quite speak. Still, something must have gotten through, because the woman calling her name replied.

"There you are." Her voice was cheerful. "So glad you're back, honey. Now, don't open your eyes. You're at Northwestern Hospital. Just relax and go back to sleep. You're safe now."

The next time Ruth surfaced, she cracked her eyes open. She saw the outlines of a room, curtained off in the center, the wall-mounted TV, and two plastic chairs. Then a piercing, agonizing pain obliterated everything else. She sucked in air and cried out. A few seconds later a woman in blue scrubs hurried through the door.

"You're awake."

"Hurts." Ruth mumbled. Her tongue felt furry, her lips dry and split. She wasn't sure the nurse understood.

But the woman nodded. "I bet it does." The nurse went to Ruth's IV bag on the pole beside her bed and adjusted the drip. A moment later blessed relief surged through. Ruth let herself relax.

"You thirsty?" the nurse asked. "I can get you some ice."

Ruth nodded.

While she waited, Ruth tried to piece together what had brought her to this place. A half-formed thought nagged at her, but she couldn't define it. Something bad had happened. Something really bad. She sank back into darkness.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "High Crimes"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Libby Fischer Hellmann.
Excerpted by permission of The Red Herrings Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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High Crimes 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Neesie315 8 months ago
I have read other books in this series and happen to like the characters. Georgia Davis is a PI who has recently gained a half-sister she never knew about and a nephew she has grown to love. The three are trying their best to get along in a small apartment meant for one person while Vanna, the sister, attends school and Georgia tries to continue her relationship with Jimmy Sacaredes, the police chief of a nearby community. However, I have to say that this book did not engage me as much as the previous ones in the series. For one thing, there is a lot of jumping around between characters and time frames. I find this especially hard to follow in an audiobook since you can't turn back to the beginning of the chapter and see whose perspective and what time frame is involved. Second, even though the blurb for the book states that it is "ripped from the headlines", I did not expect quite so much vitriol against the current President as this book contained. I realize that the author was writing about a resistance group whose sole focus was against the President, but I did get a little tired of the preaching tone regarding this issue. As another reviewer stated, I read to escape from the real world and this book was often like watching the evening news or reading it on the Internet. That being said, the story did have its moments. Georgia does her usual amazing job of tracking down leads in order to solve a case that others, including the FBI, seem to have given up on. I have to say that the victim in this case is truly unlikeable, no matter your political leanings, and I was much more involved in the perpetrator's story than I was in the victim's. The twists and turns in this book made me feel like I needed a score card to keep track of who was double-crossing who. The book often reminded me of a spy or espionage thriller more than a PI story. But, that is just in keeping with the Washington politics of the book, I guess. The addition of Vanna and Charlie, Georgia's nephew, and the additional storyline of the reappearance of Jo Beth, Georgia and Vanna's mother, was a welcome relief to the political machinations of the book. The narrator did a great job and kept my interest throughout the book. Her voice inflections/accents were wonderful and added a lot to the story. If you are an admirer of the current President, I suggest that you pass on this book. The other books in the series are great and I feel that the politics in this one just detract too much from the enjoyment of reading.
Tangen 11 months ago
family-dynamics, fanatics, political-intrigue, Chicago, thriller, suspense, private-investigators, law-enforcement Chicago. Politics. Corruption. Conspiracy. Murder. All that and much more in this novel that could be pulled from this morning's Tribune. The characters are interesting and sometimes quite disturbing, and the plot is ingenious and demanding. No spoilers. Just read it! It seems that this is book 5 in series which I am new to, but no floundering because it is perfectly fine as a standalone. The narration by Eva Kaminsky is fantastic! Clear voice and the characters are well delineated. I requested and received a free audio copy from the author courtesy of AudioBookBOOM.
teruss More than 1 year ago
How do you solve a Murder with 42,000 suspects? This immediately caught my attention and made me want to take a closer look. I’m so glad that I did. I’m a long-time fan of Ms. Hellmann’s work, and Georgia Davis has proven to be one of my favorite characters. This latest addition to the series did not disappoint. While this one is more political in nature, it’s not overtly so, and only seems to enhance the tension in the story. No matter which side of the political aisle you sit on, if you enjoy reading a no-holds barred, high octane mystery/thriller, you will love HIGH Crimes. I highly recommend it!
LGHudson More than 1 year ago
42,000 SUSPECTS! How can anyone solve a crime involving 42,000 suspects? That’s the situation facing Chicago PI Georgia Davis. Dena Baldwin is the leader of ResistanceUSA. The case becomes more complex when the gunman is found dead on a nearby rooftop. Dena’s family is concerned by an email they received a few weeks after her assassination. Dena’s group - ResistanceUSA a group with 42,000 members - was dedicated to being vocal The against our current administration. Georgia devotes herself to solving this enormous crime without getting herself killed in the process. This is an intense and complex plot. I have not read any of the previous books in the series before this one. I do think it would have been helpful to better understand Georgia’s character and her relationships with other characters. I am compelled to include these comments. I do not care to read a diatribe against our current administration and/or President. This does not appeal to me at all! Nor does the language or the gratuitous sex that is that is found throughout this book. A book doesn’t need these things to get its point across! I was provided an ARC of this book by the author. The opinions expressed here are completely my own and without influence.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
High Crimes by Libby Fischer Hellmann is the latest edition to The Georgia Davis PI series. Georgia Davis is hired by Erica Baldwin Stewart to find out more about her daughter, Dena’s death. The family received an anonymous email several weeks after her assassination and it bothers them. Dena Baldwin was the leader of ResistanceUSA, a group against the current president with 42,000 followers. Dena was vocal against the current regime and their practices. At a demonstration in Grant Park in Chicago, Dena was assassinated and the gunman, Scott Allen Jarvis, was found dead on a nearby rooftop. Georgia’s search for the truth takes her on a perilous journey. She soon learns that someone does not want the truth to come to light, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their secrets hidden. While handling the case, Georgia’s mother reenters her life. It brings up the old feelings of resentment, abandonment and jealousy. Georgia’s case takes a dangerous turn when people begin disappearing. Her quest for the truth could find Georgia paying the ultimate price. If you have not read the previous books in The Georgia Davis PI series, I recommend beginning with Easy Innocence (the first book). I have not read any of the other novels in this series, and I felt I was missing key details on Georgia. I was not able to get into High Crimes (I ended up reading two other books while attempting to wade through High Crimes). I felt it lacked continuity and an ease. It jumped around to various characters and time periods which I found confusing. I tried to like Georgia, but it did not happen. I especially disliked her sister, Vanna. I found her self-centered and whiny. High Crimes contains an intriguing mystery with various twists that will surprise readers. It is the best part of the book. The writing is extremely detail oriented. Some of the extraneous information could have been eliminated. High Crimes takes punches at our current administration. It is obvious that the author is not a fan of the current president. If you are looking for an escape from all the political goings on in the news, then High Crimes is not the book for you. There is a significant amount of foul language (which I find offensive and unnecessary) and there is intimacy between couples (fair warning) that I was not expecting. As you can tell, I am not the right audience for High Crimes. However, that is the beauty of people and books. We are all unique and like different things. I suggest you obtain a sample of High Crimes to see if it is the right fit for you.