Cici McNair's Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts:True Adventures of a Female P.I is a fun and fast read. You careen along with the author through her exotic travels and attempts to become a female private eye in a profession mainly inhabited and ruled by men. When I think of a detective it's the brilliant yet introspective Sherlock Holmes, or the laconic hero of a noir classic like Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep, or the fast-talking private eye who won't let anyone stop him from getting to the truth about who killed his partner — like Bogie again in The Maltese Falcon. So it's refreshing to learn how a woman was able to join the ranks of this traditionally masculine profession. McNair's writing fits the fast-talker detective profile to a T. She decides one day to become a detective and sets off full-steam, without a clue, but with energy and desire to spare.
She is definitely fearless, whether it's stepping off a plane countless times in some remote location, or stepping off a creepy dark elevator in a New York counterfeit handbag factory, wearing a wire and with a hidden camera, to spy on the goings-on. But even with all her rapid-fire anecdotes we never fully understand why she has gone on her latest journey or taken on yet another part-time job. Is it because she couldn't sit still for long? Or is she running from her dark family secrets?
As she becomes a crack investigator, McNair realizes that she loves hanging out with the boys and sketches their colorful personalities, while never resorting to caricature. And that's no mean feat, as some of the detectives seem to court caricature, or at least have modeled themselves after Bugs Bunny's Bugs and Thugs version of a tough-talking private eye, "Bugs Bunny, Private Eyeball — Thugs Thwarted, Arsonists Arrested, Bandits Booked, Forgers Found, Counterfeiters Caught, and Chiselers Chiseled."
I think it's because she has a great affection for her colleagues, and an almost photographic memory of spending time with them, even after working with some for just a few short months. While I was reading, I tried to remember all the interesting and unusual folks I have crossed paths with in short-term jobs I've held over the years. It's not that easy. McNair not only has a great memory, but also must feel a duty to do everyone justice. She does and she's also pretty funny while she's doing it.