Never a Southern belle, Cici McNair escaped Mississippi, and all expectations of what she should be, to travel the world. Whether working at the Vatican in Rome or consorting with gunrunners in Haiti or Iran, she lived a life of international adventure. 

After years in Europe, Cici returned to New York where she found herself broke and fashionably starving to death in a chic Murray Hill apartment. She impulsively decides to become a private detective. Diligently working her way through the Manhattan Yellow Pages, calling every listing under 'investigator, private,' Cici soon learns that the fraternity of P.I.'s is made up almost exclusively of former law enforcement officers. They are, by nature, a highly suspicious group and are especially wary of a newcomer with an untraceable past.  

She soldiers on, calling, courting rejection and, finally, on April Fools' Day, she gets a chance to prove herself. From day one she’s working side-by-side with larger-than-life characters, using her energy and wits to survive in a brand new world. 

Being a private detective is as exciting and liberating as she ever dreamed, from creating a false identity on the spot to surviving adrenaline-rushing car chases.

One summer she returns to Mississippi to work for an ex-homicide detective who schools her in rural detectivery. Her memories of childhood rush back at her. Cici criss crosses the state, working cases, with her 84 year old mother riding shotgun in 'the perfect surveillance vehicle.'

Months later, back in Manhattan, Cici joins a zany p.i. firm in Hell's Kitchen fighting counterfeiters. Working with law enforcement, she goes undercover, dealing with the ruthless Born to Kill gang in Chinatown and the Middle Eastern underworld west of Broadway.

Detailing real-life cases and introducing  eccentric, thrill seeking characters, this action-packed memoir is as entertaining as any detective  novel you've ever read.


Author: Cici McNair, P.I.
ISBN: 1599951878
Purchase From: | | Powell's

Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts is a wonderful, wonderful read, an amazing true story told in the voice of a born story-teller.  Come meet a rich and sometimes highly comic cast of detectives, clients, criminals, tough guys, and shady characters, and ride with Cici McNair as she learns her trade as a private investigator. She's funny, she's honest, and she's completely fascinating, as she helps us see why she loves the job.  This is a memoir written by someone who made her own life into an adventure story, and who knows exactly how to grab your hand and pull you along. 


“This improper southern belle's memoir as a private detective combines the immediate impact of a newspaper column, with the ironic detachment of a fine novel. McNair's crafted vignettes of low-rent detectives are like chocolate truffles: dark, bittersweet, and addictive.” 

―Bruce Schimmel, Founder & Columnist, PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER

“Cici McNair is the most glammapuss lady detective since Nora Charles. In a world where morality is looser than airport security/OR mashed potatoes, nothing rattles this genteel Southern miss who swan-dives into life looking for adventure and winds up zig-zagging the globe in disguise, wired like a Christmas tree, and busting con artists and gang members when she’s not consorting with the occasional murderer or gunrunner who has lust in his heart. One of the few female members of this hard-living, stained-tie fraternity, McNair declassifies the donkey work and dangers that are all part of the job description for those those who would live for the chase."

―Phoebe Eaton, Novelist and Screenwriter

“Detectives may not wear seatbelts, but you definitely should hang onto your seat when you read Cici McNair’s saucy, smart memoir about a hot female P.I. from the South. I always knew Cici was a pistol, but she really blew me away with this one!”

―Lewis Burke Frumkes, Author of HOW TO RAISE YOUR I.U. BY EATING GIFTED CHILDREN, Host of the Lewis Burke Frumkes Show on WPAT-AM in New York,
Director of the Marymount Manhattan College Writing Center

“Riding with Cici McNair would be a hair-raising experience. Can anyone have led such a zany, explosive, fun-filled, and inviting existence from Rome to Florida to Mississippi and from New York to Philadelphia? Reading is believing. And one suspects should McNair decide in one moment to become a brain surgeon, she would do so forthwith and with relish.”

―Joseph L. White, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS

“Learn all about the gritty life of private investigators and how one tough woman broke into this largely male club. Stepping into one of its offices, Cici McNair found herself stuck in hanging fly paper. Anyone who picks up this book will be stuck in McNair’s world, and is guaranteed to enjoy the experience—wackiness and all.”

―Andrew Nagorski,  Author of THE GREATEST BATTLE