I rarely post anything about my own writing here at Bookbrowsing, but I was so excited to get this review for Private Spies that I wanted to share it with you. What a buzz!
By PJ Nunn
Tidal Wave Publishing
When Jesse Morgan joined her childhood friend Joey Catronio to work at Private Spies, she hired on at his business for the promise of a private parking space, a business card, and the mostly legal duties of tracking down anyone through her computer skills all while wearing jeans and cowboy boots. After Joey’s death though, Jesse finds herself inheriting a private investigation business that has her completely over her head and drowning in inexperience. Without knowing exactly what she is doing Jesse takes on a client asking to locate her ex-husband Lawrence Gafford whom Beverly Gafford claims has stolen their daughter. Although not all of the details her client provides seem to add up Jesse gainfully attempts to investigate only to discover that Lawrence Gafford is not the man she was told to find, Beverly is not her client, and the man she believed was her target is now lying dead in her bathtub.
Thankfully, her profession if not her emotional well-being is salvaged by Joey’s last act having been to hire Byron Montgomery, a former Houston undercover and narcotics police officer who retired out early but has the skills Jesse desperately needs if she is to keep Private Spies afloat. Unfortunately, while Byron is more than willing to pass on his investigative knowledge he is also emitting enough pheromones to drive Jesse to distraction and cause her to lose whatever sensibilities she retains. Jesse’s going to need all of her mental and physical abilities if she hopes to figure out the labyrinth of lies connected to her pseudo client and how they link to the body in her bathtub. With a cat named after Elvis Cole Jesse’s detective skills are more fictional based than actual, but fortunately she enlists the aid of a bored court clerk, an interested police officer, and has an extremely competent secretary.
Named after Jesse James and Wyatt Earp’s younger brother Morgan, Jesse speaks before thinking, acts impulsively, and is spurred more by emotions than by rational thought. Although she knows that she is often making a mistake Jesse is unable to stop herself from twice assaulting a man she suspects is following her car, charging her cellphone, or meeting with an unknown witness without backup or informing anyone first. Jesse is constantly distracted by her crush on Byron, and even though she laments her spinster status she embarks on several dates with men who display interest but fail to live up to Byron’s hunky standard. What redeems Jesse in the eyes of the reader is that she is all too aware of her flaws and struggles, sometimes reluctantly, to improve herself and become a better investigator. With Jesse managing to make Stephanie Plum resemble a Special Forces Op Agent the humor is pervasive as Jesse comments on the impossibility of sexy bed hair, her loathing of morning people, and her complete awareness that a gun license would probably result with her shooting herself.
In what will hopefully be the first in a series the author has created a contrast to the typical super-competent detective with stellar self-defense skills and whose impulsiveness would be frustrating were it not for the fact that Jesse is completely aware of her flaws. Her emotions frequently override her thoughts, but what does become charming is that she actually grows and learns from her mistakes. Humor remains central to the core of this very complex and well-written mystery and readers will enjoy a heroine who manages to defy the odds and survive, often despite her best attempts to get herself killed. It’s impossible not to somehow fall in love with this character who both exasperates and delights readers with her impetuous but always well-intentioned behavior.