Save Me From Dangerous Men by S. A. Lelchuk
The bar was over in West Oakland. Just a squat block of concrete sitting in a parking lot. Neon Bud Light signs threw blue light over a dozen beat-up cars and trucks parked in front. I'd never been. Probably never go again. I pulled up at the edge of the lot, on the outskirts of the lights. Cut the engine of the red Aprilia motorcycle I was on. I walked in. Early side of a Friday night, just past nine. A half-dozen rough-looking men sat at the bar, another few at tables, and two shooting pool. Only one other girl. She was half a couple wedged into a dark corner booth, a pitcher of beer in between them. She had a nose ring. I'd always wondered if nose rings were as painful as they looked.
I stood at the bar. 'Heineken.'
'That's five dollars.' The bartender was a big, paunchy guy, better side of fifty, graying hair. He eyed me without bothering to hide it. So did the rest of the bar. So what.
I took the beer, took a swig, headed into the ladies'. The smell of Lysol and floor polisher. Stared into the chipped mirror and took a careful look at myself. I was tall, five foot eight. Taller with the heavy motorcycle boots I wore. I smoothed out my auburn hair from the helmet. A touch of shadow around my green eyes. A touch of red lipstick I'd never ordinarily wear. I looked okay.
I could start.
Save Me From Dangerous Men is a debut book. Supposedly the first in a new series with a protagonist by the name of Nikki Griffin. I listened to this book on audio and it was very ably narrated by January LaVoy. Nikki has been described by the publicists as a mix of Jack Reacher and Lisbeth Salander. I would agree partly. She's a private investigator who also happens to own a bookstore. Lots of book titles and references here and I definitely loved that part. Her bookstore also has some interesting patrons and customers - one group known as the Zebras. Nikki also does some volunteer work with women who have been abused and she has a sideline where she 'talks' with the abusers and shows them the error of their ways. Or maybe I should just say she points out consequences and fairness. Anyway, I liked the book very much, though there is certainly violence. I'll be reading the next in the series and here's hoping there is one. My friend Cathy had a review of the book on her blog yesterday here - check it out!
Nikki Griffin isn't your typical private investigator. In her office above her bookstore’s shelves and stacks, where she luxuriates in books and the comfort they provide, she also tracks certain men. Dangerous men. Men who have hurt the women they claim to love. And Nikki likes to teach those men a lesson, to teach them what it feels like to be hurt and helpless, so she can be sure that their victims are safe from them forever.
When a regular PI job tailing Karen, a tech company's disgruntled employee who might be selling secrets, turns ugly and Karen's life is threatened, Nikki has to break cover and intervene. Karen tells Nikki that there are people after her. Dangerous men. She says she'll tell Nikki what's really going on. But then something goes wrong, and suddenly Nikki is no longer just solving a case—she's trying hard to stay alive.
Part Lisbeth Salander, part Jack Reacher, part Jessica Jones, Nikki Griffin is a kickass character who readers will root for as she seeks to right the world's wrongs.