Tag Archives: libby fischer hellmann

A Bend in the River by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Reviewed by Teri Davis

From an American, Vietnam is usually from the soldier perspective. Yes, our young men were enlisted and drafted into military service. Many more interpretations of the situation half-a-world away from the United States do exist.

Libby Hellman wrote a realistic fiction novel beginning in 1968 involving two sisters from a small Vietnamese village, Tam and Mai.

This small village is approached by Americans both from land and air. The two know about how the servicemen drop bombs from helicopters leaving their crops burnt and poisoned. Even worse, they are then not able to grow anything on that land for years.

Tam and Mai select two different opportunities leading them apart and not reuniting again until 1978. What could happen in those ten years?

A Bend in the River is a beautiful image of life for the Vietnamese people of the South. Author Libby Hellman vivaciously researched this particular time, the land, and spoke to many people regarding their personal experiences in creating this gem. Her characterization makes real people in this fictional tale of the sisters.

War, Spies & Bobby Sox (Stories About World War II at Home) by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Reviewed by Teri Davis

War, Spies and Bobby Sox“The volume of literature about World War Two has both fascinated and intimidated me. I suspect its popularity comes from the fact that it was the last time there was clarity between good and evil.”

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The Incidental Spy” is the story of Lena, a German Jewish refugee as she begins her new life in Chicago during 1935. Lena is fortunate to be sponsored by her aunt whose husband is a mathematics professor the University of Chicago. Immediately, she is enrolled in English and typing classes and quickly becomes a secretary in the physics department at the University. Naturally, it is hard knowing what is happening to the rest of her family a continent away. With erratic communication, the constant strain of her parents’ hardships, as well as her first love, are trying. Do you move on or wait?

Jump Cut: An Ellie Foreman Mystery (Ellie Foreman Series) by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Jump CutAccording to Wikipedia, “A jump cut is a cut in film editing in which two sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that vary only slightly. This type of edit gives the effect of jumping forward in time.”

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The Incidental Spy by Libby Fischer Hellmann

The Incidental Spy

Reviewed by Teri Davis

How does anyone become a spy? Oftentimes it is not the person that chooses the profession but the profession which chooses the person. Lena became a spy because of who she was, who she knew, and how she could be controlled. Lena was forced to be a spy. She felt that she had no choices.

Being a Jew has frequently been dangerous throughout history in many places in Europe. This was especially true for those families who lived in Europe prior to the Second World War. For Lena, her life is no different than many people of the time, only much more complicated.

A Bitter Veil by Libby Fischer Hellmann (Review #2)

A Bitter Veil Reviewed by Teri Davis

For many of us growing up as children in the middle of the twentieth century, we expected to have our dreams fulfilled, love, marriage, education, a successful career, …

Hindsight always gives a person an advantage. However, in A Bitter Veil, an American girl, Anna, meets an Iranian boy, Nouri, who is studying engineering in Chicago. They meet in a bookstore and begin to discuss Persian poetry. This is the beginning of their loving relationship. It seemed like the perfect match even though she was blond and he had dark hair. Both had that Aryan look about their eyes. At that time not many people in this country had married someone from this area of the world. Being That in Iran at this time had about 46,000 Americans living there and appeared progressive with technology, styles, and habits, no one could have predicted how things could and would change in a very short time.

Anna had never been close to her family so her love for Nouri fulfilled her and she eagerly anticipated having an extended family, even if it is in Iran. Fortunately, Nouri’s family was wealthy and greatly benefited from the Shah’s reign basically living a Western life in Tehran. As the couple begins their new life in the modern Iran of 1978, the southern section of Tehran is having demonstrations and riots due to the inequality of opportunities inside this country. The southern part of this city is poor, the northern section where this couple lives, appears not to even be aware of the problems.

When the Shah leaves and the Ayatollah returns to the country, many people are eager for the change, this should fulfill their hopes and dreams. However, when the U.S. Embassy is attacked and those inside are held hostage, the attitude towards Americans and modernization quickly changes. This reversion to the old beliefs is difficult for those who were in favor with the previous governmental powers.

In A Bitter Veil, the voice of Anna is realistic and believable. Libby Fischer Hellman extensively researched this time period, the changes in Iran, and those people who actually underwent this experience. This in-depth fictional story is well-organized, engaging, as well as informative of actual historical episodes and the effects on those Americans in Iran.

A Bitter Veil is a true historical experience. Even though it is a romance at first, it is also a mystery, and definitely reflective to the changes within Iran.

Hindsight always makes us reflect into a right or wrong situation. A Bitter Veil allows us to view the changes through the eyes of a naïve Westerner while also having the reader develop a deeper understanding of the people.

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Set the Night on Fire by Libby Fischer Hellmann (Review #2)

Set the Night on Fire by Libby Fischer HellmannReviewed by Patricia Reid

Chicago in the turbulent world of 1960’s anti-war demonstrations fused with modern day times makes for an exciting book. Dar Gantner has just been released from prison. Dar was convicted and sentenced to serve 40 years for his participation in the 1970 bombing of a department store in Chicago. Although Dar was not the only one involved in the bombing, he was the only one who was caught and prosecuted. When Dar begins to touch base with his former friends things start going downhill. It seems that there are people who don’t want Dar around and fear that he may have information that could bring disaster to at least one successful person who has his past well-hidden.

Meanwhile, Lila Hilliard is in Chicago to spend Christmas with her father, Casey, and her twin brother Daniel. Tragedy struck when Lila made a short trip to the store only to return home to find that her childhood home had burned and her brother and father were killed in the fire.

Set the Night on Fire by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Set the Night on Fire by Libby Fischer HellmannReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The saying “the sins of the father are visited on his children” could be the subtitle of author Hellmann’s latest book, Set the Night on Fire. The book is neatly divided into three parts starting and ending in the present day with the middle taking readers back to the ever so volatile summer and fall of 1968 in Chicago.

The story opens with Dar Gantner’s return to Chicago after his release from prison. He begins to make contact with the five other people that he had lived and worked with back in 1968. At the same time, Lila Hilliard has also returned to Chicago to spend the holidays with her father Casey and twin brother Daniel. Lila does not know Dar, and so she does not have any forewarning that his connection to her family is about to radically change her life forever.

In 1968, when the Democratic Convention came to Chicago, so did a wide assortment of young people from across the country. Some came to demonstrate against the war in Viet Nam and some came with idealistic dreams for a better society. Some came to destroy our political government and some to start a near utopist society. Some were angry Blacks wanting equality; some were white rich kids from the suburbs disgusted with the materialistic lifestyle of their families. But the one thing they had in common was they all came, which made for some very interesting, if unusual, bedfellows. The plot of this novel revolves around six people who lived in an apartment in Old Town. Ted was a judge’s son from Madison, Wisconsin. Rain was also from Madison and had attended high school with Ted. Alix, from Indiana, was the daughter of a department store owner and was probably the least political person in the household. Though Casey Hilliard was from the North Shore of Chicago, he had met Dar at the University of Michigan. They had both been involved in the student demonstrations there and came specifically to protest the war at the Democratic Convention. They soon met Payton who had come in from the University of Iowa for the same purpose. All six ended up “crashing” in the same apartment and over time, became a sort of family.

Over time things started falling apart and some moved on to other things. Though they were not all living together, one event involving four of them changed all of their lives forever. That event left one of them dead, Dar in jail and all of them with secrets to keep buried.

Doubleback by Libby Fischer Hellmann (Review #2)

doubleback1Reviewed by Patricia Reid

Eight year-old Molly Messenger is kidnapped and her terrified mother confides in a neighbor, Susan Siler. Susan calls Elle Foreman, a video producer, and asks that she talk to Christine Messenger, Molly’s mother. Susan contacted Elle because she thought that Elle could offer Christine some good advice. Elle has had some experience with the dark side of people. Elle promised Christine she would contact her friend Private Investigator, Georgia Davis.

Doubleback by Libby Fischer Hellmann

doublebackReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

It all started with little Molly Messenger’s kidnapping. Chris, Molly’s mother, is afraid to involve the police so her neighbor, Ellie Foreman, calls the one person she knows who can help. That is how former police officer turned PI, Georgia Davis becomes involved. From the very beginning, Georgia is uncomfortable with the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping. There are some obvious holes in the mother’s story, but Georgia can’t quite figure out what the mother is hiding-or why. In this action packed book, things happen fast. Molly is suddenly returned and both Chris and her boss at the bank have suspicious accidents. While investigating, Georgia uncovers some unusual bank transactions that lead back to Chris. These banking irregularities only create more questions about Chris and the kidnapping. Molly’s father hires Georgia to follow the money trail which quickly moves the action from Chicago to downstate Illinois and then from Wisconsin to the Mexican-Arizona border. What in the beginning appears to be a simple kidnapping ends up involving an international cartel of seriously bad people involved in several bad businesses.