Synopses & Reviews
"Callahan?" she said hesitantly.
"What is it now, Neva Jean?" She's one of the best housecleaners I have working for me, but you wouldn't believe the shit that happens in her personal life.
Neva Jean hesitated again. "No use lying. You'll find out anyway. Me and Swanelle were on our way to Valdosta Friday night when we got in a big fight. You know Swanelle's temper. Well, he got so mad at me he pulled into a Waffle House outside Macon, put me out of the truck, and took off and left me standing there. Me with nothin' but a bottle of Mountain Dew in one hand and the Danielle Steel paperback I was readin' in the other. Left me standing there in the middle of the parking lot wearing my house shoes."
There was extended throat-clearing at the other end of the phone. "I'm still in Macon, honey," she wailed. "Some of the girls working at the Waffle House have been taking turns putting me up, and they let me clean up there in return for meals, but my purse is in Swanelle's truck, and if I know him, he's gone off on a toot. You reckon you could wire me bus fare back to Atlanta? You know I'm good for it."
"I reckon it'll have to," she said resignedly.
"Fine," I snapped. "Get somebody to give you a ride to Western Union, and I'll haveEdna wire it to you. Make sure you're here by eight A.M. tomorrow. You've got the Mahaffeys and the Greenbergs, and you know they don't like anybody but you in their houses."
just as I banged the phone down-hard-the front door slammed. Into my kitchen, which also serves as office and headquarters for the House Mouse, Atlanta Central Division, a cloud of cigarette smoke preceded a five-foot-two-inch woman in her early sixties. The blue hair was teased and tormented into an unnaturallooking winged creation I call her Hadassah do. It was Edna Mae Garrity, my live-in office manager and threepack-a-day mother.
She set the morning paper down on the old oak kitchen table we share as a desk and sniffed the air.
"No coffee made?"
"I thought that was your job," I said, pointedly waving away the smoke she blew in my direction.
She deliberately shot a stream toward me, then turned toward the coffeepot. "You wanna tell me why you've got your panties in a wad so early on a Monday morning?"
"We've got a full day's work, one big new client, and Jackie and Ruby are out sick. On top of that, Neva Jean just called; she's stuck in Macon with no money and can't possibly get back until tonight at the earliest."
Maybe I should explain here about the House Mouse. Jesus I hate that name. It's a cleaning service, actually. After I left the Atlanta Police Department last year, I had the hot idea of becoming a private detective. Lots of guys I know have done it after leaving the department. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I overlooked onething-my sex. Once I got my license, I found out fast that unless you're a man and latch on to one of those high-priced corporate-security consulting gigs, most private detective work is just nickel-and-dime skip-tracing and divorce work. Which I detest.
About then, Edna talked me into buying this cleaning service. Easy money, she'd said. She could get her longtime cleaning lady, Ruby, and some of Ruby's friends to come to work for us. And with all her contacts, neighbors, and friends, people she knew from the beauty parlor she'd managed for twenty years, we'd be in high cotton. She kicked in some money she'd been putting aside, and I took ten thousand out of my police pension fund and bought the business.
And since the stationery, brochures, and even the pink Chevy minivan that came with the deal all said House Mouse, it was cheaper to keep the old name. Which I hate.
We operate out of my little bungalow in Candler Park, a nice tree-shaded neighborhood here in Atlanta. The business has grown steadily, I'll have to admit. I had no idea how many yuppies there were in this town who can't bring themselves to scrub their own toilets but who would gladly pay me or my girls $75 a half day to do it for them.
The downside is that every week some fresh disaster strikes. Either a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner bums out a motor, or one of the girls (most of whom are at least fifty) throws out her back, or some old biddy calls to complain we waxed her no-wax floor. Kind of makes you long for a nice dean Friday-night domestic knifing.
The disaster du jour on this particular Monday was three clients who expected the House Mouse to show up this morning, and there I was with most of my mice out ofcommission.
Edna pulled the appointment book away from me and squinted at it through her bifocals. She's too vain to admit she needs glasses, so she makes do with these $4.99 K-mart specials. She tapped a pencil against her teeth, a sign of deep thought.
After ten years of cleaning up the dirt on Atlanta's streets, Callahan Garrity is trading in her badge for a broom and a staff of house cleaners. But, though the uniform is a little different, Callahan soon finds herself right back in the middle of a mystery when a client's pretty, pious nineteen-year-old nanny is gone ... along with the jewelry, silver, and a few rather sensitive real estate documents.
Before she knows it, the meticulous Callahan is up to her elbows in a case involving illicit love triangles, crooked business deals, long-distance scams, and a dead body. Now she has to roll up her sleeves and start some industrial strength sleuthing to solve -- and survive -- this mess.
Introducing Julia Callahan Garrity, a former cop and failed gumshoe who now runs a cleaning service in Atlanta. While working in the home of an ex-sorority sister, Callahan is hired on the spot to trace the family's nanny, who's taken off with jewels, furs, and some sensitive real estate documents.
About the Author
Kathy Hogan Trocheck is the author of ten critically acclaimed mysteries, including the Callahan Garrity mystery series. A former reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, she is also the author of Little Bitty Lies and the Edgar®- and Macavity-nominated Savannah Blues, under the name Mary Kay Andrews.