By Janey Mack
When Maisie McGrane, who longs to be a Chicago cop like some of her older brothers, is instead expelled from the police academy, she reluctantly takes a job in the Traffic Enforcement Bureau – as a meter maid. Soon, however, she is embroiled in not only two murders (gathering clues in the hope that by solving them she’ll be reinstated at the academy), she has to deal with two feisty supervisors, two egoist patrols officers, family problems, a couple of attractive beaus, and tussles with the mayor. Plus, don’t forget a killer is targeting her.
What a delightful little mystery. There is a lot of story, a well laid out plot, rich characters, and some good humor.
Maisie McGrane: 24, 5’7”, auburn hair with blonde and brown highlights, expelled from the police academy (at the beginning of the book), dad is a cop, has five older brothers (cops and lawyers), stepmom is a lawyer, drives a Honda Accord, has a criminal justice degree
Hank Bannon: 31, wealthy, ex Army Ranger, works in a gym, owns a Mercedes SUV and a 1969 Dodge Coronet (Yes!), gray eyes
Ernesto Padilla: caramel skin, tattooed, paramedic, smokes, drives a pickup
Jennifer Lince: works in traffic enforcement, white blonde
Leticia Jackson: black, 4’11”, works in traffic enforcement, 180 pounds
Leticia and another meter maid, Eunice, are wonderful characters. The author does an excellent job of using everybody and giving everybody time in the spotlight. My only concern was Hank in that he’s more enigmatic than I would have liked. I thought he would be ‘partnering’ with Maisie but although he’s there, for the most part, when she needs him, he wasn’t as actively involved in the mystery as I thought he might be. There are some characters that, though not over-the-top, do peek above the rim. But they only add to the fun.
Good voices. Leticia, Eunice, some of the Irish family. Even the minor characters, because of the descriptions sound like I would have expected. Some good exchanges between characters. Just the right amount of cynicism and humor and seriousness.
First person from Masie’s POV. Profanity.
My one concern is that the murders sort of get pushed to the back burner while much of the book deals with Maisie’s misadventures that just seem to worsen (in an oh-no-what-now kind of way that adds more humor to the book) and I found myself saying, “But wait, what about the dead guys?” As I mentioned, there is a lot of story, with angles and facets and trying to include everyone. So, after finishing it, I was still concerned about the lack of complete focus on the murders because, in a roundabout way, those are just part of the mix and do connect up to several other big pictures (and little picture) items.
I think this author did a fine job of keeping everything organized, not losing touch with minor parts of the story, and though she left open some relationship questions (who does Maisie end up with; what happens with between Cash and Jenny, Ernesto and Leticia, Dacien and Bliss; Maisie’s problems with her dad) that’s okay, because it all fodder for the next book.
I enjoy these types of stories, a little action, a little humor, a little more humor, a little mystery and a lot of fun.
Now, as to rank. I thought the moving away from the murder should reduce it at least to Blue. However, I have to take into consideration the above mentioned aspects of the characters and how they all get time to be special and nobody is left dangling to where I didn’t care about them or they were unimportant. Also I have to look at the overall writing style, and to repeat, the author kept everything together and things that needed to be tied up were, and there were things left open for future stories.
So, with the amount of effort the author obviously put into making as fine a story as possible, I’m going to bump this to: