Sunday, March 16, 2008

Easy Innocence Tackles Some Hard Choices

Libby Fischer Hellman introduces a new Private Eye series with the publication of Easy Innocence, and it's a good start. Georgia Davis, an ex-cop, get hired to find evidence that might clear Cameron Jordan, an autistic man whose been accused of murdering a high school girl named Sara Long. At first, the forensic evidence against Cameron seems insurmountable, but the deeper Georgia Davis digs into the case, the more frayed ends she finds.

As these ends begin to unravel, she uncovers a number of unpleasant facts about the well-to-do and well-to-do wannabes on Chicago's North Shore. Even more disturbing, the prosecution is rushing to wrap up the case as quickly as possible. The reason soon becomes apparent, though not surprising when you remember that the rich and powerful make special efforts to protect their own.

A high school hazing that took place at the time of the murder places the prosecuting attorney's daughter at the scene of the crime, opening up the possibility that others were involved in Sara's death. And as Georgia begins to question the dead girl's friends, someone starts following her, and one promising lead winds up on a slab in the morgue. Eventually, Georgia learns some shocking revelations about Sara and her high school buddies that reveal just how far teenagers will go to maintain their status in a high school where the content of your closet is more important than the content of your character. It may lead Georgia to the secret that got Sara killed...if she can stay alive herself.

Libby tackles several timely social issues, including peer pressure, the sexualization of young girls, and the pursuit of status, all without preaching or alienating the reader. She does it by simply telling a great story. It had me guessing about the identity of the killer until the very end, and also had me thinking about this book long after I turned the last page.

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