Short stories are the poetry of prose. They are precise, cut to the bone, every word a necessity. Not many authors develop that control. Libby Fischer Hellmann has the hand of a master.
William Kent Krueger:
The stories in Nice Girl Does Noir have all been published previously in traditional venues. They’re unified by the presence of two remarkable women: Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis. Anyone familiar with Libby’s novels knows these names. The two characters are different in history, family, appearance, and outlook, but they’re alike in the ways that matter. They care about justice. They’re fiercely protective of those they love. They can’t let a mystery go uninvestigated nor a crime unsolved. And they’re always struggling to be better than they fear they are.
Take it from a guy who knows her well: Libby is a nice girl. But she writes noir with a savvy edge honed on the hard, dark knowledge of the evil possible in us all. With each story she opens a door to a room that holds a demon—bigotry and politics in her award-winning debut effort “The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared”, greed in “Common Scents”, deadly desire in “A Winter’s Tale”—and with prose too damn good to resist, she seduces us inside.
So you should probably take this not only as an invitation but also as a warning. If you choose to read on, I can guarantee that Libby’s stories will take you places nice people don’t often go.
To read Libby Fischer Hellmann is to love Libby Fischer Hellmann. Her writing is tight, fast, and highly entertaining. But I had no idea Libby was so versatile.
My first inkling of this came a few years ago, when I asked her to contribute a story to an anthology I was editing. Frankly, I didn't think she'd make the cut. While Libby doesn't shy away from being tough in her writing, her Ellie Foreman books were not what I'd call hardboiled, and my anthology was a collection of hit man stories.
Boy, was I wrong. Her story, DETOUR, was pure, adrenalin-fueled noir, and wound up being one of the best of the book. Soon after DETOUR Libby began writing some seriously diverse and seriously good yarns in various genres and sub-genres. She also edited the acclaimed hardboiled anthology, CHICAGO BLUES. She's still great at the light-hearted suspense she's known for, but the stories in NICE GIRL DOES NOIR -- all previously published -- offer a wide variety of styles, tones, and topics. Funny. Dark. Poignant. Exciting. Surprising. And yes, plenty of hardboiled.