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Set the Night on Fire [Kindle Edition]

Libby Fischer Hellmann
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Someone is trying to kill Lila Hilliard. During the Christmas holidays she returns from running errands to find her family home in flames, her father and brother trapped inside. Later, she is attacked by a mysterious man on a motorcycle. . . and the threats don’t end there.

As Lila desperately tries to piece together who is after her and why, she uncovers information about her father’s past in Chicago during the volatile days of the late 1960s . . . information he never shared with her, but now threatens to destroy her.

Part thriller, part historical novel, and part love story, Set the Night on Fire paints an unforgettable portrait of Chicago during a turbulent time: the riots at the Democratic Convention . . . the struggle for power between the Black Panthers and SDS . . . and a group of young idealists who tried to change the world.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Decades-old student protests come back to haunt young people who shared an apartment in Chicago in the late 1960s. Dar Gantner has just been released from prison after 40 years for participating in the 1970 bombing of a Chicago department store in which three people died—among them his lover, Alix Kerr, daughter of the store owner. Now it seems his four remaining former housemates are in peril. When two of them, including Casey Hilliard, die in staged accidents within weeks, Dar suspects Ted Markham, who took part in the bombing but wasn’t charged and is now a U.S. senator running for the presidency. When atttempts are made on the life of Casey’s daughter and remaining heir, Lila, Dar has a compelling reason to protect her. Long-held secrets are revealed, as characters scramble for their lives. But what seems all too obvious to readers about the source of danger doesn’t occur to the characters until the eleventh hour. Hellmann, author of the Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis mystery series, provides a colorful view of youthful antiestablishment activity in the 1960s, but her first stand-alone comes up short on suspense. --Michele Leber


"A tremendous book - sweeping but intimate, elegiac but urgent, subtle but intense.  This story really does set the night on fire." --Lee Child

"A brilliantly-paced thriller, transitioning seamlessly from modern-day Chicago to the late '60s. First-rate characterization...Best to start early in the day, as it is easy to stay up all night reading it." --Foreword Magazine

"RT Top Pick for December: "Electric... a marvelous novel."
--RT Book Reviews

"Set the Night on Fire is a compelling story of love, truth and redemption. This will be a break-out novel for this talented writer. Highly recommended." --Sheldon Siegel, NYTImes bestselling author of Perfect Alibi

"A top-rate thriller that taps into the antiwar protests of the 1960s... A jazzy fusion of past and present, Hellman's insightful, politically charged whodunit explores a fascinating period in American history."
--Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • File Size: 574 KB
  • Print Length: 362 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0984067655
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Allium Press of Chicago (November 12, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C43IFY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,294 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Peace, Love and Anything But November 18, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
Lila Hilliard went out to get replacement Christmas lights for the Christmas tree. When she returned home she found her father's house ablaze, her father and twin brother dead and her life turned upside down. Why was the mysterious motorcycle rider trying to kill her? And did she have a savior or a second assassin after her?

Libby Fischer Hellmann has done it again. SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE is a compelling story of old friends, old causes, old secrets. Told in two voices, today's and yesterday's, this thriller will keep you turning the page until all is revealed.

One of the most interesting things I found here is Ms Hellmann's writing style changed between the present day story and the back story. At first it bothered me, but the more I thought about it, the more brilliant it became.

If you're under 45 you will enjoy learning about the attitudes of the country in the late 60's. If you're older you will find yourself nostalgic for your younger passions.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Trip Back to the 60s February 25, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wow! What a great read.

Libby Fischer Hellmann's Set the Night on Fire is an interesting thriller and historical look back to the Summer of Rage in 1960s Chicago. Very authentic feel and trip down memory lane to the music of the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors and the anti-Vietnam war protests. I knew some of these characters in my university days(though none that set off any bombs).

I highly recommend this book to anyone, but it will be especially meaningful to Baby Boomers.

James A Anderson, Author
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sixties Terrorism November 30, 2010
Seldom has a novel left me with such a set of conflicted impressions as has Libby Fischer Hellmann's first stand-alone novel, Set the Night on Fire. One part of me loves the book as a solidly written thriller, another part cringes at how accurately Hellmann pegged the absurdity of the 1960s revolutionaries, and a final part of me just cannot take the book's two main villains seriously. The first two points are so solidly in Hellmann's favor, however, that I can easily get past my villain problem.

Lila Hilliard is on the run. Her father and brother have just died in a mysterious house fire and now someone is trying to kill her. Her problem is that she has no idea who is chasing her, or why. What she does know is that she is still alive only because her would-be assassin is not very good at his job - so far - and that she seems to have acquired a human guardian angel somewhere along the way. And when that guardian angel steps forward to identify himself, Lila learns things about herself and her father that turn her life upside down.

She learns that her parents, along with a few thousand other college students and college drop-outs, came to Chicago in 1968 to protest the Viet Nam War at the Democratic National Convention being held there. Unfortunately for Lila, her parents became involved with a small group of domestic terrorists willing to use bombs to make their point. Innocent people were killed, arrests were made, and people went to prison - her father, among them. Now someone wants to kill anyone even remotely connected to that group of friends, including, apparently, their children. This is good thriller material and Hellmann develops it well.

More than a third of the book is told in flashback to the years between 1968 and 1970.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I'd actually give this book a 4 1/2 if it were possible.

This was a great read. For me, a real page turner. I admit I might be inclined towards it since about a third of the book was dedicated to a fictional group of people who share my biography; in the summer of '68, I was 18 and in Chicago, and I was between my freshman and sophomore years in college, though I didn't drop out of school. And so far as I know, none of my friends pondered violence to make their (our) point. Though we certainly had a point of view.

As much as I enjoyed the historical link, I actually was more interested in the story of the present. Lila, a strong, smart and competent woman, a person of the *next generation, who has suffered the unfathomable loss of her family, realizes someone is out to get her, but hasn't a clue who it might be or why it might be. And it becomes apparent she has some kind of guardian angel....

I'm sure it did help a bit, that the author referenced a number of places I've known. But I honestly think I would have enjoyed it as much had it been set in San Francisco. Or New York. Or Boston, or Philadelphia. But of course, it was the summer of '68, so it wouldn't have been set anywhere other than Chicago.

Truly a well crafted novel, and I enjoyed my weekend of reading. Thank you, Ms. Hellman.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly recommended read March 24, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
'Set The Night On Fire' tells the story of Dar Gantner, a 1960s radical now released from a forty year prison sentence for bombing a department store in which three people died. Someone with something to hide is killing the people Dar was close to back then and threatening their descendents. The key to the mystery lies back in the events in Chicago all those years ago that led to the department store bombing.

Libby Fischer Hellmann crafts a believable recreation of 'sixties Chicago, of the radical hopes and challenges and the self-deceptions that marked the time and this is the real strength of the book. You see in a character like Billy, an orphan adopted by the group, a symbol of the characteristic American dilemma of innocence betrayed.

But overall, this is not a 'heavy' book. It's a thriller informed with real substance and a highly recommended read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy resd
Good read
Published 2 days ago by judy sepik
4.0 out of 5 stars review
I enjoyed the book. Usually I will skip to the last pages, but this time I did not so that I would be totally surprised by the ending.
Published 4 months ago by RUBY MORRIS
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story.
This author really knows how to keep you involved with her stories. You want to keep reading to find out what is going to happen next.
Published 5 months ago by dplee
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written!!!
Suspense ridden book. An excellent read!! Great character development. A pretty fast read. Love her writing!!!. She is 1 of the best mystery writers that I read.
Published 8 months ago by Tmannj
4.0 out of 5 stars Research for a book on the 60's
I have about 30 books on the 60's, every thing from music to politics, race and pop culture. This was a nice insight into that era.
Published 8 months ago by Patricia
4.0 out of 5 stars Keeps You Turning Pages
LIbby Fischer Hellmann is a great mystery writer and her books hold your attention from beginning to end. This one is no exception. I would suggest taking Libby along on vacation. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Grandma Joanie
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Audiobook!!
Audiobook review: "Set the Night on Fire" was so addictive that I found excuses to listen! Not only was the story well written, but being a child of the 60s, I found I had a... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jeannine
5.0 out of 5 stars A little blast from the past will "Set The Night on Fire"
Read from February 17 to March 24, 2013

Set the night on fire is a fast pace suspenseful thriller that's a very entertaining read. Read more
Published 19 months ago by DivaC
5.0 out of 5 stars Set the Night on Fire
Very good stand alone book by an author who keeps you engaged from the first page to the last. A very good book.
Published 19 months ago by Debra Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars AudioBook Review
I'll be thoroughly honest and say that I know I am hooked on romance in AudioBook format, but wasn't sure that a thriller or suspense novel would strike me in the same way. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Gaele
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More About the Author

Libby Fischer Hellmann is a critically acclaimed crime writer loved by readers the world over for her compulsively readable thrillers and strong female characters. Her fast-paced crime fiction spans 10 novels and 20 short stories, and she has also edited a popular crime fiction anthology called Chicago Blues.

With critics describing her work as "masterful" and "meticulously researched", it's not hard to see why Libby's thrilling and richly varied crime novels have won numerous awards. Libby is exceptionally committed to her work, and in 2005-2006 she was the National President of Sisters in Crime, a 3,400+ member organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of female mystery writers.

You can keep up to date with all Libby's news and views over at her blog,

Libby started out in broadcast news, beginning her career as an assistant film editor for NBC News in New York before moving back to DC to work with Robin MacNeil and Jim Lehrer at N-PACT, the public affairs production arm of PBS. Retrained as an assistant director when Watergate broke, Libby helped produce PBS's night-time broadcast of the hearings. She went on to work for public relations firm Burson-Marsteller in Chicago in 1978, where she stayed until she left to found Fischer Hellmann Communications in 1985.

Originally from Washington, D.C.--where, she says, "When you're sitting around the dinner table gossiping about the neighbors, you're talking politics"-- Libby earned a Masters Degree in Film Production from New York University and a BA in History from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to writing, multi-talented Libby writes and produces videos, and conducts speaker training programs in platform speaking, presentation skills, media training and crisis communications.

Libby's best-selling novels have won widespread acclaim, with her first novel, An Eye for Murder, nominated for several awards and described by Publisher's Weekly as "a masterful blend of politics, history, and suspense."

Libby is known for her portrayal of strong female characters. An Eye for Murder introduced Ellie Foreman, a video producer and single mother who went on to star in several more novels in a series described by Libby as "a cross between Desperate Housewives and 24." Libby's second series followed the Chicago PI Georgia Davis, a no-nonsense detective who has been featured in three books so far, with a fourth due out next year. In addition to her hugely popular series, Libby has also written three standalone thrillers in diverse settings and historical periods that demonstrate her versatility as a writer. Through her "Revolution Trilogy," (Set the Night on Fire, A Bitter Veil, and Havana Lost) we meet young activists during the late Sixties, a young American woman who marries and moves to Tehran, and a female Mafia boss who chases power at the expense of love.

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Topic From this Discussion
Question #1
Of course we worked for the betterment of society. At such young ages we saw so much that was wrong. At very least we contributed a dissenting voice, which is mandatory in a democracy (as we've finally seen in Egypt.) I've always believed it was marching in the streets that ended the Vietnam war.... Read More
Feb 15, 2011 by Deane Edelman |  See all 12 posts
Question about Parts of the Book
As someone who was born too late to experience the Sixties firsthand, I think leading with Lila's story helped draw me into the book. I think it would be interesting to see if the different generations have differing opinions on the book, and the structure of the book. My feeling is that setting... Read More
Feb 16, 2011 by Susanne Trowbridge |  See all 20 posts
Question #3
The department store bombing was reminiscent of actual violence by some radicals in that era. Remember the bombing of draft board offices? Remember the famous Greenwich Village townhouse that was leveled when a bomb being put together by members of the Weather Underground accidentally... Read More
Feb 17, 2011 by Maine Colonial |  See all 14 posts
Dar's relationships
That is true, but remember, Dar had the same effect on women 40 years ago as well. It would appear that he is one of those men that women just gravitate toward.

As for Lila, disrespecting Casey, I don't agree. She had just lost her father and was feeling lost. And she didn't just accept him, but... Read More
Feb 16, 2011 by dreamsgate |  See all 5 posts
Question #4
It never crossed my mind that Alix dieing was anything but an accident although it is an interesting thought. I still think it was an accident though. I have wondered what kind of a woman she would have grown into.
Feb 18, 2011 by Sheryl L. Battin |  See all 8 posts
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