Corrigan’s Mitigating Circumstances is billed as a thriller, but it’s told with a light touch.
Gail LaRue is a junior city planner for Gulf Breeze in Florida’s panhandle. Her hands are full dealing with code violations such as the rash of illegal signs that pop up everywhere in the middle of the night. The signs refer to land mitigation, the process of creating new wetlands equal to the amount of wetlands being destroyed by developers. Meanwhile, an environmentally active woman named Karen Baretta is kidnapped—not for ransom or sex, but for a more creative reason. Still, her life is in danger. Can Gail help authorities rescue her? This is mostly Gail’s story, with a good deal of Karen’s point of view included. Gail is smart, funny and tough when circumstances call for it. Instead of using profanity, she and co-worker Em express exasperation by exclaiming the names of dead writers: “Edna St. Vincent Millay!” “John Greenleaf Whittier!” Near and dear to Gail’s heart are “The Girls,” which she calls her breasts. This becomes important when one of The Girls plays a creative role in resolving the story. The humor is gentle, often evoking smiles or chuckles but not gut-busting guffaws. Now and then, Gail’s explanations of rules and regulations get a tad wonky, but those digressions are mercifully short. So this isn’t your typical thriller where the tension and the body count continue to build—they don’t. Or where the fate of Western civilization hangs in the balance—it doesn’t. We’re just talking Gulf Breeze here. This is simply an enjoyable read with strong, likable women holding center stage. Less serious than Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, Gail LaRue is more like Janet Evanovich’s heroine. Think Stephanie Plum without the wackiness.
Corrigan clearly had fun writing this. Fans of light mysteries and strong women will have fun reading it.