Video: Real life "Charlie's Angels"

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updated 7/1/2004 11:04:07 PM ET 2004-07-02T03:04:07

Word-associate the phrase "private detective" and the first image may be of Humphrey Bogart or somebody like him—a male detective in a felt hat slouched stereotypically over one eye.

But in Boise Idaho, two mothers are PIs. It’s "Charlie’s Angels" only older and wiser.

Valerie Agosta and Mollie Carnan are best-buddy detectives. Together, they’re Hanady Investigations. They will find your long lost uncle, or your spouse’s new "friend."

These private eyes have been known to pass out their business cards at church, soccer games, and even bridal showers. They’re not your typical investigators... but they are two moms who had a dream.

They work from home with just a few tools: hidden cameras, binoculars, cell phones, and a stun gun (just in case).

You might think they’d have nothing to do in Boise, but you would be wrong.

"We have a lot of cheating husbands, and wives too. We do adoption searches, family reunions, insurance fraud investigation, among other things," says Agosta.

Their bond goes beyond 007 business. They’ve both struggled with serious health issues, and this has brought them closer.

For Agosta, the battle was breast cancer. "It made me kind of look over what my life had been life and what I had missed out on, and what I wanted to do," she says. "So I started the agency, and it’s just been wonderful ever since."

For Carnan, it was an auto-immune disease, something she still deals with daily. "It’s chronic pain, mobility issues, fatigue," she says. "Doing something like this keeps me active— keeps me young and motivated. That’s the best weapon I have against this insidious disease."

And so, they take it day by day, using skills that come naturally to mothers—like snooping and sixth sense. They like to imagine the glamorous life, but actually, they spend more of their time "talking trash."

"You can learn a lot from trash," says Agosta. "You can get cell phone numbers for example, you can find out where they have a gym membership."

They’re hardly suspicious-looking: "You’d see a middle-aged mom anywhere and you’re not going to look twice," Agora says.

And sometimes, they have to blow their own cover. "But most people are still willing to help us out because we’re middle-aged moms."

They’re snoops on the streets who’ve learned their best PI skills at home. "They don’t want to see some hard-boiled ex-cop sitting with his feet up on the desk. They want somebody who will listen and empathize with what they have to say. That’s what draws people to us. That feels good, that feels like a mom."

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