In 2006 I have had the pleasure of reading several books by debut authors that surprised me with how very good they were. They didn’t read like first time books, and Hazardous Duty by Christy Barritt, quickly fell into that category.
Here’s a piece from the back cover:
“On her way to completing a degree in forencsic science, Gabby St. Claire drops out of school and starts her own crime scene cleaning business. “Yeah, that’s me,” she says, “a crime scene cleaner. People waiting in line behind me who strike up conversations are always regretting it.”
“When a routine cleaning job uncovers a murder weapon the police overlooked, she realizes that the wrong person is in jail. But the owner of the weapon is a powerful foe…and willing to do anything to keep Gabby quiet….”
This story is told in first person from the perspective of Gabby St. Claire, a slightly off-beat, musical lyric spouting free spirit who lives in the Virginia Beach area. Her voice is slightly sarcastic and direct with a clear love for all kinds of lyrics. She lives in an apartment surrounded by equally unique free-spirits who keep her life interesting.
The book opens with Gabby and her assistant Harold at the home of an attorney who is running for senate – it isn’t clear whether it’s for state or US. The reason they are there is that his wife was murdered there and someone needs to clean up the mess. After her assistant leaves for the night, Gabby finishes cleaning up and in the process discovers a gun that she’s convinced is the murder weapon. Before she can get out of the house, someone sets it on fire and she has to fight for her life.
From that point on, her desire to be a Nancy Drew, CSI expert trumps Gabby’s ability to stay out of the way of the police investigation. Her neighbors help her with her investigation when her assistant is arrested for arson and attempted murder – hers.
The book is well written with a plot that moves quickly from mishap to attempted murder to run in with the detective assigned to the case. In the middle of everything else, Gabby finds herself interested in one of her neighbors. Even that can’t go smoothly though.
I really enjoyed this book. It was well written, but there were a couple points where research snafus caused me to stop reading for a minute as I argued with the character. I’m sorry, but as an attorney I know there is no way that a defendant will be put on trial for a crime within three weeks of the crime happening. The wheels of justice simply don’t move that fast. One other detail caused the same type of hiccup.
Other than that I enjoyed the book and recommend it if you are looking for a whodunit told in first person.