It is a universal law that you can’t hide anything from your mother. Some sixth sense exists in all mothers which allows them to hone in on the very details you are trying to obfuscate. So, when readers pick up Susan O’Brien’s debut novel, Finding Sky, it will not surprise them to discover that the protagonist of the book is a single mother of two who also happens to be going to school to become a private investigator.

Nicki Valentine is a delightful heroine. She is perfect in her imperfections and readers will be able to relate to her – regardless of gender or parental status. All of us are struggling through life – sometimes we get it right and sometimes we fail miserably – but we all just keep doing the best that we can. If we are lucky, we do it like Nicki Valentine; which basically means that we do it with humor and heart.

As if her days are not full enough with play-dates, doctors appointments and laundry, when her close friend and neighbor arrives with distressing news, Nicki has no qualms about lending a hand. Kenna and her husband have been going through the process of adopting a baby, but just when things seem to be leveling out for them, the birth mother Beth Myers has disappeared. Kenna fears the worst and wants Nicki to find out what happened.

The “job” gives Nicki an opportunity to use the skills she is learning at a local PI training class. What it doesn’t do is prevent Nicki from getting into all kinds of trouble. Though the course of the novel, Nicki Valentine finds herself in situations that are life-threateningly serious, as well as those that are laugh-out-loud comedic. As a single parent, Nicki’s main focus and concern is her children, so when danger starts to get too close to home, she begins to regret her investigation. But she cares too much about those involved to give up completely.

Fortunately, Nicki’s training also puts her in constant contact with the dreamy instructor she has a crush on. This budding romance is one of the many touching parts of the narrative. Since Nicki is a widower with two young children, dating has obviously not been her main priority and she knows it will be an uphill battle to find someone who will accept her and her ready-made family. Could Dean be the one?

Finding Sky is another in the great line of cozy mysteries released by Henery Press. It is the perfect blend of the traditional mystery with more modern elements. For example, Nicki is a vegetarian and while she is always conscious of how this makes life more complicated, she is also firm in her decision and proud of it. This helps to humanize her for modern audiences without over-stretching the cozy boundaries.

The mystery at the core of the story is a strong one and Susan O’Brien manages to keep readers guessing, but like most cozy mysteries, the real strength is in the characters. If readers don’t care and can’t relate to them, it doesn’t matter how well-plotted the novel is. Thankfully, this is not a problem that Finding Sky suffers from. Immediately upon meeting Nicki Valentine, readers are going to recognize her and welcome her into their lives. This is wonderful news for Susan O’Brien, since book two in the series, Sky High, will be available next year.


Disclaimer:  An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publicist.  No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.