Friday, October 5, 2018

High Crimes (Georgia Davis PI #5), by Libby Fischer Hellmann

The Red Herring Press, ISBN 9781938733956, November 2018

It's January 2018, and Donald Trump has been President for a year. Dena Baldwin, respected scion of a wealthy Chicago family, head of a major nonprofit charitable foundation, founder of a Resistance group, has organized a major protest. She briefly worries her fellow organizers of the group and the protest by arriving late, but she makes it in time that her second, Ruth Marriotti, doesn't have to stand up and speak in her place.

Then a shot rings out, Dena and one of the others are dead, and Ruth is badly wounded. Moments later, the shooter blows himself up on the roof of a nearby building.

Dena's mother, Erica Baldwin, calls Georgia Davis when the FBI's silence and apparent lack of action frustrates and distresses her. She wants answers.

What Georgia finds are more questions.
Dena briefly recruited a former hacker turned computer security expert to help protect the Resistance Facebook page and electronic records. They apparently had a passionate online "affair" for three weeks, and then he abruptly vanished from the group's life. Dena's parents are divorced and she's estranged from her father. Carl is as rightwing as Dena is left, a Washington lobbyist who supports the new administration and has no hesitation about taking Russian money to do so. He's rigid, controlling, domineering--much like, in fact, Dena, from what Georgia learns in talking to her friends.

The shooter is also a puzzle. There's no apparent connection between him and rightwing politics. He's a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, had had problems readjusting after his return home, but he'd never gotten involved in politics. Yet there's also no apparent connection between him and Dena Baldwin.

Why did he shoot her? Was someone else behind it?

Talking to his sister is an obvious start, but she's disappeared, paying her rent and asking her landlady to collect her mail, but leaving no contact information.

Then Carl Baldwin disappears, too, and Georgia is kidnapped, beaten, and threatened, told she needs to drop the case immediately.

And in case things might too easy and uncomplicated for her, she's having some stresses with her younger sister, Vanna, and Vanna's baby, Charlie, in her tiny apartment. This is not made easier when their mother, who abandoned Georgia but did raise Vanna (more or less, not very well), suddenly appears at their door.

There's a lot going on here. Political and social conflicts figure significantly in the murders. There are also family conflicts, among the Baldwins, and for Georgia and her family. Georgia has to confront her own feelings about her mother, her sister's insecurities, and how to move forward rather than remaining stuck. One of the great things about this series is the way the characters, both personally and in their relationships, continue to grow.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.