“Whistling a tune from Fiddler on the Roof, I used my tweezers to work a piece of Gloria Cunningham's skull out of the sky blue wall.” This is how Christy Barritt introduces us to the impulsive, perky heroine of her new novel, Hazardous Duty. Gabby St. Claire longs to be a forensic scientist and almost obtained her degree before her father's alcoholism intruded. Making the best of a disappointing situation, she starts her own crime scene clean-up operation.
When a senatorial candidate's wife is murdered and the senator wounded, Gabby accepts the job of cleaning up the crime scene with her sweet, seventy-year-old assistant, Harold. After Harold leaves, Gabby finds a hidden gun and a drop of blood on the carpet in the closet. But before she can notify the police, she hears a window break and smells gasoline downstairs and smoke. She barely escapes, yet manages to turn over the evidence to Detective Chip Parker, who could double for Dirk Pitt. Parker dismisses her conclusion that the would-be senator, Michael Cunningham, murdered his wife.
Though bitter at God, Gabby finds her new neighbor, the mysterious, good-looking Christian, Riley Thomas, fascinating. When her assistant Harold is arrested for arson, Riley offers to help. Gabby determines to prove Harold innocent. As attempts on her life continue, Gabby's old resentments, questions, and longings about God rise.
Barritt peoples her novel with quirky, fascinating characters, such as Sierra, the animal rights activist, Riley, the mysterious Christian, Harold, the sweet former arsonist, Bill, the heavy-drinking talk show host, and a reclusive mystery writer. But none are as interesting and quirky as music-loving, impetuous Gabby.
Writing in the first person, Barritt gives us the inside look at Gabby, who sometimes makes me laugh aloud with her turn of phrase or comparisons. The writing style reminds me of Carol Higgins Clark's in being light and humorous, as well as suspenseful. Mystery lovers who enjoy the lighter suspense stories, rather than deep psychological mysteries, will want to give Hazardous Duty a try. – Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book Previews.com
On her way to completing a degree in forensic science, Gabby St. Claire dropped out of school and started her own crime scene cleaning business. Now, when a routine cleaning job leads her to a murder weapon the police overlooked, she realizes that the wrong man is in jail. With the help of her new and attractively single neighbor, Riley Thomas, Gabby plays the detective to make sure the right man is put behind bars.