Hibiscus Hedge  



Other books by Helen Osterman

Who are the new neighbors?

Who Are the New Neighbors? is the sequel to Followed. It is a work of fiction and in no way meant to demean anyone's religious beliefs. It revolves around the family renting the house next door to Sparks House in Rockford, IL. The subject is domestic abuse.

Deborah Geraldson is completely dominated by her husband, Ezra. He believes every ailment can be cured by prayer alone.When Deborah realizes her daughter has serious health issues, she seeks medical attention.

A severe beating lands Deborah in the hospital and Ezra in jail.

When she recovers, she divorces Ezra and, with the help of friends, becomes a strong, self-reliant woman. The story ends with an ironic twist.

Available on Amazon.com and e-book formats

Print version: $15.95


FollowedSomeone is following me. I can feel it. I see a blue Camry drive by the house too many times to be coincidence. Am I getting paranoid? No. I know who he is.

Wherever I go, he’s there: to the park with my daughter, in the hospital parking lot where I work.
He approaches me with his lies, his fantasies, and insane letters of love.

Even though I carry a can of pepper spray, I feel like a small creature with a hawk circling above me.

I take out a restraining order against him, but will he honor it or retaliate in some way?

It all started a few months ago …

Follow the characters through a harrowing experience of lies, subterfuge, kidnapping, and the pulse pounding rescue.

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, And ebooks.

Dipped In Danger

Dipped In DangerA sequel to Danger by Design.
The book is two stories in one. The action takes place in Portland Oregon and in a Chicago suburb. Net Petrone takes a part-time job at The Toffee Shop. The shop is broken into and supplies are destroyed. Who is doing this and why? Again, Net puts herself in danger solving the mystery. The reader will be surprised at the ending.

Cover award

Price: $15.95

Available from Amazon.com and all e-book formats.



Danger by Design

Danger by DesignNet Petrone recently moved into a townhouse in a retirement community. The previous owner, as well as others, joined a fraudulent society bilking wealthy widows out of their life savings. Soon afterwards, they die of sudden heart attacks. Net joins in an attempt to expose this unscrupulous organization. What she doesn’t realize is that she has put herself in mortal danger. Follow this superstitious Italian woman as she becomes involved in mystery, danger, and murder.

ISBN: 978-1-61009-142-8
Available late September 2014 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com and from Oak Tree Press.

Praise for Danger by Design:

Net Petrone is a feisty amateur sleuth who doesn’t let a little thing like knee surgery or a sinister society keep her from helping a man find the truth of his mother’s death. Helen Osterman has turned a retirement community and a nice Italian grandma into a mystery filled with secrets and adventure.
Clare O’Donohue, Author of The Kate Conway Mysteries

Helen Osterman has created the most unique amateur sleuth and mystery plot to date. Follow this probing Italian-American superstitious widow, Net Petrone, on an enthralling caper of fraud and murder. You’ll love the journey, characters, and exhilarating climax. Lou Macaluso, Amazon Best Selling Mystery Writer, In Search of Sal

Maker's Mark

Maker's MarkWhy do a sleazy antique dealer and a wealthy collector suddenly become interested in an unknown artist named Jo Allison? Is it the mysterious goblet she used in three still life paintings? After her apartment is burglarized and she is followed and threatened, she discovers that the goblet may be a priceless artifact. Thieves follow her to Chicago in the home of wealthy blind woman who also owns one of the goblets the climax of the story takes place on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago between the two roaring lions.

$12.95 hardcover. Order from Amazon.com
Also at $2.99 for Kindle and Nook. And now available as an audiobook through Amazon.

Notes in a Mirror

Notes in a Mirror coverThe year is 1950. The place is Hillside State Mental Hospital located outside of Chicago. At the time, the treatment of the mentally ill was archaic, consisting of hydrotherapy, electroshock therapy, Insulin coma therapy, and, in the extreme, pre-frontal lobotomy. Tranquilizers were not yet available.

Mary Lou Hammond and Kate Stephens were among the student nurses taking their three month psychiatric rotation at Hillside.

Mary Lou is an extremely sensitive young lady. She begins dreaming about a woman in the early part of the century. The dreams tell a continuing story. Soon Mary Lou finds messages in mirror image writing from the woman in her dreams, Margaret Montague. She claims to have died in 1911. If this entity does exist, what does she want from Mary Lou?
As the students go from one terrifying experience to another in the institution, Mary Lou’s dreams intensify, and so do the messages. She becomes obsessed with finding proof that the woman did exist as the story escalates to its life-threatening climax.

Notes in a Mirror is available for Kindle and Nook Books. And now as an audiobook through Amazon.com.


Before tranquilizers became available, the mentally ill were committed to large institutions where they were supervised and protected from harming themselves and others. One of these institutions was Chicago State Mental Hospital, also known as Dunning; after the name of the man who originally owned part of the land. It was located on Chicago’s northwest side.

The hospital opened in the early part of the twentieth century and officially closed in the nineteen seventies. During those years the poor, the indigent, and the insane, as the mentally ill were called, occupied the cottage wards on over one hundred and fifty acres of land. A tall wrought iron fence surrounded the entire complex. It was a self-contained world with its own treatment buildings, infirmary, power plant and bakery.
The treatments provided were primitive and sometimes dangerous, but at that time, considered ‘state of the art.’

Student nurses from many of the Chicago and suburban nursing schools spent three months at Dunning for their psychiatric training. That was a time most of them never forgot. The author was one of those students.

Today the mentally ill are no longer committed to large institutions. New buildings dot the original grounds of the state hospital. The Chicago-Read Mental Health Center is one of a number of State Community Centers utilizing today’s accepted concepts. The aim is to return patients to the community as soon as possible using medications, psychotherapy, and rehabilitation techniques.
The corner formerly occupied by Chicago State Mental Hospital now holds a shopping center erected where the entrance was located. It is called Dunning Square and is designed like every other strip mall featuring a Jewel, Osco, TJ Max, Burger King and Dunkin Donuts.

This story is fiction. Hillside Mental Hospital is based on the original Chicago State Hospital and the treatments described were those accepted at the time.

Helen appeared on the "Sunday Papers with Rick Kogen" show on radio WGN to discuss Notes in a Mirror. Click the player below to listen to the full interview:

Praise for Notes in a Mirror:

Settling into bed with a new book, and looking forward to reading myself to sleep, I was in for a big surprise. Helen Osterman's Notes in a Mirror is a riveting story that takes you into the past with ease. Her descriptive style (from first page to last) has you eagerly anticipating the outcome. This story of a student nurse on rotation at a home for the mentally ill is captivating. Set in the 1950s, long before medications and counseling came into play, the mentally ill were treated a in less-than-human manner which Osterman describes in chilling detail. A bonus is that the story within the story is equally spellbinding. I did not get much sleep that night, turning each page with eager anticipation until I could no longer see the words on the page. This is definitely a book you won't want to miss.      Linda Thompson, host of www.AuthorsWebTV.com

Song of the Rails, a love story

Songs of the RailsEve Moore appears to have an ideal life: a lovely home, two grown children and a husband who is a good provider. But, as the years go by, his alcoholism escalates and he becomes abusive. When Eve tells him she wants to go back to work, he feels threatened. After a violent episode, she packs a bag and leaves.

 Eve meets Patrick O’Malley, a kindly man who becomes the brother she never had. He helps her to resume her nursing career that she had set aside so many years ago.

One day Patrick disappears from her life with no explanation. Eve is devastated but, with determination and the help of friends, picks up the threads of her existence and weaves them into a comfortable lifestyle.

Ten years later, Patrick calls. He is living in Quincy, IL, 300 miles away from her home in suburban Chicago. He is gravely ill and wants to see her. They rekindle their relationship, but on a different level.

Through Patrick Eve meets Paul Connors, a retired psychologist. They fall in love, but neither is willing to give up their individual lifestyle. Patrick dies soon after, giving them his blessing.

Can Eve and Paul sustain a meaningful long distance relationship? Does their love transcend the limits of space? Is any love deep enough?

Finalist book award

Available on Amazon for $14.00 and Kindle for $2.99
ISBN: 987-1500444969. And now available as an audiobook through Amazon.

Read an excerpt from Song of the Rails, a love story

Please note: All images of flowers and plants shown on this website were grown by the author who, like her character, is an avid gardener.

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