Reviewed by Lauren K.

Cici McNair weaves her memoir through the deep south of Mississippi and the streets of New York City. After traveling the world and trying her hand at a variety of careers, Cici decides to become a private investigator. Cici soon learns that becoming a P.I., especially a female one, is not as easy as she first thought. When the charismatic Vinny Pardo in New York City finally gives her a chance, for six dollars an hour, Cici is officially on her way. Discovering that this industry is primarily made up of retired male homicide detectives, Cici quickly learns the ropes and rules of her new trade. Trailing adulteresses and breaking up counterfeit designer purse rings in New York’s Chinatown, Cici begins to thrive in her new role and gains respect in the industry and on the streets.

When she returns to her small hometown deep in Mississippi to be with her mother, she realizes that being a P.I. down South is massively different then working in the big city. While uncovering cases, Cici begins to uncover her past. Her career continues to flourish and with every new case and position, Cici peels away at her own exterior. In doing so, she lets her past flow out little by little as her guard comes down.

The reader is let into Cici’s private life as McNair feeds tidbits and anecdotes about herself while sitting in cars at stakeouts. Her secrets and character come out in a slow and steady pace that McNair seems to feel comfortable with. Prior to this, little is known about Cici, and the revelations make it easier to determine what is going on in her head as she speaks. By opening up as the book unfolds, a face and personal story forms for the before faceless, unseen P.I.

McNair is a great storyteller. Detectives Don’t Wear Seat Belts is full of humor, action, suspense, and emotional moments, particularly when she describes her overbearing and unlovable father. McNair’s cast of characters throughout the memoir and her life are a motley crew and McNair details their quirks and personalities with precision. Her conversational style puts the reader right in the action, on the stakeouts, in the office, and into Cici’s life.

Lauren Kirk is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to working on her own personal writing, editing Messy Magazine, and writing for multiple sites, Lauren is also currently pursuing her MFA in English. More work can be found at : messymagazine.org and goldiesays.wordpress.com.