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Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts: True Adventures of a Female P.I.    by Cici McNair order for
Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts
by Cici McNair
Order:  USA  Can
Center Street, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

TV shows and movies abound with private detectives, picturing a glamorous and exciting life for the PI. One fraught with danger but somehow he/she never gets hurt, let alone killed. They show an exciting life full of tough guys with flat abs, and tough talking dames who manage to seduce someone by the end of the show.

Not so. Cici McNair had a checkered life with experiences like dining with a gun runner in Haiti, working in the Vatican in Rome, and trailing around Europe for years. After literally starving in Manhattan, she decides to try her hand at being a detective. With no formal training, she sets about finding a job. After talking a firm into hiring her, she's working for the first time at her life's ambition. And successfully so. Not raking in the money one would think, but satisfied with the work she was doing.

Changing from one firm to another, she goes back to her hometown in Mississippi to learn the art of rural stakeouts and car chases. She returns to New York and finds herself working amongst drug runners and the Vietnamese Mafia in Chinatown. She ends her memoir, telling of the establishment of her own detective agency.

McNair's memoir reads like a thrilling novel despite being true to life. Her stakeouts and investigations ring true, and harrowing escapades make readers hold their breath. I have the very distinct feeling that McNair has toned down a few of the true-to-life stories as being maybe a little unbelievable for the average citizen. A lot of her work involved catching dealers passing off knock-offs for brand name goods. Dangerous work against dangerous people.

The fact that Cici has published three novels under the name Clarissa McNair explains the tautness of the writing of this non-fiction book. She has a flair for telling a story the way it is. I would like to hear more from her.

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