post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: Hazardous Duty
Author: Christy Barritt
Series: Squeaky Clean Mysteries, book 1
Major Themes: Mysteries, Romance
Synopsis: As a crime scene cleaner, Gabby St. John thinks she’s seen everything—but when she uncovers evidence the detectives missed, she has to decide whether to let them do the job themselves or do a bit of digging for the truth on her own.
Hazardous Duty was nothing like I expected it to be. And just to set the record straight: Yes, I do read murder mysteries now. I never intended to, but now there are a few authors that have actually shown me how…no, not beautiful, but how intriguing God’s justice can be acted out in the world today. I also like contemporary fiction—so there! I guess I’m something of a recent convert from only historical fiction. Alright, back to the topic at hand—no; this wasn’t what I expected at all. I thought it would be a “crime-scene-cleaner-finds-an-extra-dead-body-and-has-to-figure-out-whodunit” kind of mystery, but this turned out to be so much more interesting than that.
I would like to caution you, though—once you start this book, you’re going to have a hard (and I mean really hard) time putting it down. What I’m about to tell you is slightly embarrassing, but it should serve as a good enough warning: One day, a certain girl had work away from home, but at the last minute her boss told her to put it off for another day. Suddenly, she had her morning free, and she remembered this intriguing book she had started the day before. So she started to read, completely forgetting that she ought to tell her mom that after all she wasn’t going to work. Noon came and went. At her place, the agreement was that on the school mornings she wasn’t working she would make lunch for the family. Well, she forgot…and kept reading.
She finally finished the book about 1:45 that afternoon, and was just about to get started on a project while she waited for the call for lunch…when she realized what she had done. Not only had she neglected to tell her family of the change of plans, but she had forgotten to make lunch AND her family normally waited for her to get home at 1:00 to eat with her! More than likely, they had been waiting 45 minutes for her to get home already…when all the while she had been at home. Yeah, slightly embarrassing. I don’t plan on repeating that stunt again, but I’d encourage you to make sure you have a few hours free if you are planning to read this!
Crime scene cleaner? you say. Yes, that’s who Gabby St. Claire is. She’d really like to be a forensic specialist, but time and opportunity conspired against her and she began to clean crime scenes for a living. Gloria Cunningham, wife of Michael Cunningham who is currently running for the U.S. Senate, was brutally murdered and Gabby now has the job of cleaning up the house. However, as she’s cleaning, she uncovers a weapon that the detectives hadn’t found in their search—a gun hidden under the floorboards. How could the guy who’s currently in custody have managed to hide his gun in as inconspicuous a place as that? Perhaps it wasn’t actually him, but Michael Cunningham himself, who killed his wife? Then, someone sets the house on fire before Gabby has a chance to get out—is someone trying to cover up evidence? Even if she gets out in time, will the detective believe her story when he’s told? And what happens when her only employee is sent to prison for a crime she’s sure he didn’t commit?
The plot of Hazardous Duty is very well done. I now do not aspire to be a mystery writer at all, as Mrs. Barritt’s work here is phenomenal—I didn’t guess the real criminal until just before Gabby found out. I’m looking forward to reading more, as time permits! I loved the Christian aspect to the story as well, as that was well done. Even though Gabby wasn’t a Christian, she had examples of real Christian people who cared for her—some of the first ones in her world—and their faith astounded her. I’m looking forward to seeing that grow as well.
WARNING: Obviously, it’s a murder mystery, so there are people killed or hurt (all off-screen, though). There are a few mentions of blood. In the first chapter, Gabby is described as picking pieces of skull out of the wall. There is also slight romance to the story, as she’s interested in a guy. Later in the story, there’s a kiss. But beyond that, the book is very clean.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy Hazardous Duty:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Book Depository: Paperback