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Hazardous Duty    by Christy Barritt order for
Hazardous Duty
by Christy Barritt
Order:  USA  Can
Kregel, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Due to her father's inability to support himself, Gabby St. Claire drops out of college shortly before finishing her degree in forensic science and starts her own business as a crime scene cleaner. It's a dirty job, but it pays well and someone has to do it. Her latest location is the blood soaked home of a man whose wife was killed, apparently by someone who did not want her to testify against him in court. But while Gabby is cleaning, she comes across a gun that the police apparently missed. She prepares to take it to the police, but as she's leaving the house, someone sets it on fire, trapping her inside.

Was the fire set to conceal the evidence, or was it meant to harm Gabby? The police don't seem to want to investigate the murder victim's husband, who may be the person truly responsible for the crime. With the help of her quirky friend and neighbor Sierra, as well as their new, mysterious (but attractive) neighbor Riley, Gabby tries to figure out who committed the crime before the person silences her for good.

This is the first book in the Squeaky Clean Mysteries series. Gabby is an interesting character with an intriguing job - it puts her in the midst of crimes without being directly involved with them, an unusual twist. Gabby's determination to find the true culprit at times borders on hysteria. I am not sure how realistic her involvement with the case is; although entertaining, much of the plot is far-fetched. I find it difficult to believe that the police would give her confidential information about the investigation, and her actions would probably land her in jail in real life.

Other than this, the mystery is interesting and keeps the reader engaged with the story. The characters are fascinating, and it will be fun to see where the author takes their individual and group stories as the series continues. There is just the right amount of humor to offset tension, which makes the plot flow quickly. The faith vs. science element is not explored very often, and questions about trusting in God or trusting in science add depth to the tale. Overall, Hazardous Duty is an exciting debut from a promising author.

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