by Laura DiSilverio
Cover Artist: Steven Noble
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312641504
Date: 12 October 2010 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Having retired from the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations, Charlotte "Charlie" Swift is now a trained, professional PI whose specialty is locating missing persons. She finds herself unhappily saddled with Georgia "Gigi" Goldman, a wealthy, spoiled socialite who doesn't know anything about surveillance. In her attempt to force her to quit, Charlie sends Gigi on mundane assignments. Unfortunately, Gigi's bumbling, inept antics turn these assignments into hilarious fiascoes. However, Gigi always comes out smelling like a rose.
Meanwhile, Charlie has been hired by Melissa Lloyd to locate the mother of a baby that was found on her doorstep. The baby is Melissa's granddaughter Olivia. It should be a simple case except Melissa doesn't know the identity of Olivia's mother, having given her up for adoption seventeen years ago. The case becomes more complicated when Olivia's mother is found murdered. Several women begin fighting over custody of Olivia. Numerous men are suspected of having fathered Olivia whose mother was a blackmailer. However, Charlie, who interviews a bizarre assortment of characters, is most interested in finding the one who killed Olivia's mother.
Laura DiSilverio's mystery debut Swift Justice is a genuinely funny, intriguing cozy that will have you swiftly turning pages in the middle of the night. It is not clichéd or sugary sweet like some cozies I've read. Swift Justice has the investigative procedure work of a noir and the light-hearted humor and sexual tension of a romantic mystery. Written in the mode of a cozy, it lacks graphic violence and explicit sex but contains a superb whodunit. I found it difficult to lay this novel aside until I discovered who killed Olivia's mother.
Not since Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison of television's Odd Couple have I seen such two mismatched people as Charlie Swift and Gigi Goldman. Charlie is a strong, independent professional career woman who is happy being single without children. Enter frumpy socialite Gigi Goldman who drives a gas-guzzling Humvee and wears outlandish designer clothes. Gigi once wore to work a pink-tiger-striped outfit that, according to Charlie, made her look like a refugee from Josie and the Pussy Cats: The Golden Years. Gigi's lecherous husband Les ran away with his personal trainer and left her to raise their children. A former hairdresser, she doesn't know anything about being a private investigator.
Swift Justice is told in the first person from Charlie's point of view. Naturally, the story focuses on Charlie and her investigative work. Gigi serves as comic relief. Charlie gets Gigi out of her hair by sending her to perform undercover work as an employee at Buff Burgers restaurant, conduct a stakeout outside the house of a cheating spouse and deliver divorce papers. Individual chapters describe the disasters into which Gigi's assignments ultimately become. However, instead of deterring Gigi from her quest to become a PI, these disasters strengthen her resolve. Eventually, Charlie's dislike for Gigi turns into respect and she looks upon her as a partner rather than a liability. I predict they will work more closely together in future novels.
The novel's setting is primarily Colorado Springs and its suburbs. In her search for justice, Charlie must conduct her investigations at a goat farm, a high school, a construction site, and at several expensive boutiques; she is constantly on the move, interviewing a plethora of suspects. She also has several love interests, which include Liberty High School's muscular guidance counselor, Jack Van Hoose, a hunky detective, Connor Montgomery, and a rugged Episcopalian priest, Father Dan Allgood, who lives next door to her. Speaking of religion, the novel takes a somewhat grim view of religion considering that one of the main suspects is an abusive fanatical minister, Zachary Sprouse, and Charlie harbors a deep resentment towards her missionary parents who were always leaving her with her aunt and uncle or her grandparents.
For a genuinely hilarious, action-packed cozy, then I highly recommend Laura DiSilverio’s Swift Justice. Before retiring to become a full time writer, DiSilverio spent twenty years as an U.S. Air Force intelligence officer. It was time well spent as evidenced by her character Charlie Swift who also retired from the Air Force. Thankfully, DiSilverio is swiftly working on a sequel to Swift Justice. I can't wait to read more about the odd couple of Charlie and Gigi solving more crimes. Upon learning that the sequel is in print, I'll be swiftly running to the bookstore to purchase it.