Author: Susan O'Brian
My Copy: ARC courtesy of Henery Press
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: She’s a parent. She’s (almost) a P.I. No one gets on your case like mom.
Suburban widow and P.I. in training Nicki Valentine can barely keep track of her two kids, never mind anyone else. But when her best friend’s adoption plan is jeopardized by the young birth mother’s disappearance, Nicki is persuaded to help. Nearly everyone else believes the teenager ran away, but Nicki trusts her BFF’s judgment, and the feeling is mutual.
The case leads where few moms go (teen parties, gang shootings) and places they can’t avoid (preschool parties, OB-GYNs’ offices). Nicki has everything to lose and much to gain — including the attention of her unnervingly hot P.I. instructor. Thankfully, Nicki is armed with her pesky conscience, occasional babysitters, a fully stocked minivan, and nature’s best defense system: women’s intuition.
Susan O’Brian’s debut, Finding Sky, is classified as a mystery and yet it’s not really one. I know when I read a mystery, I expect there to be a murder; hopefully you don’t consider this to be a spoiler because there is none. And unfortunately, that’s just my personal preference when it comes to mysteries and of no fault of O’Brian’s or the publisher, Henery Press. In many ways, it is a mystery in terms of trying to find out what happened to the missing teenager Nicki Valentine has vowed to locate.
Character development is a bit weak. While we do spend a lot of time with Nicki, we don’t know much about her other than she’s super health conscious (we’re constantly reminded of the organic food in Nicki’s house) and a mother of two. We’re never told exactly why she wants to be a private investigator nor are given the whole background regarding the death of her husband. Nicki has a crush on her PI instructor named Dean and we’re told he’s a Brad Pitt lookalike (well a Brad on steroids) constantly. I was a bit disappointed we don’t get to spend much time with Dean and when we do, it’s all business. I know where O’Brian is heading with these two, it’s just I don’t just see them working out. Maybe it’s because I need to see more of them outside the PI classroom. We have a few secondary characters that play a role including Nicki’s best friend, Kenna. I really liked Kenna and her husband and hopefully they’ll play a larger role in the future.
As for the narration, it’s first person via Nicki and unfortunately, I had difficulty liking Nicki. There’s so many reasons as to why, but mostly it had to do with O’Brian constantly telling us about the food located in Nicki’s pantry. I get it, she’s health conscious and feeds her children organic food, but we don’t need to be constantly told about it. Also, I found Nicki’s behavior to be a bit ridiculous in certain situations. Time and time again, I found myself rolling my eyes, but then I can forgive her because she’s a rookie who hasn’t quite become a full fledged PI. For example, when she goes to the high school to find information about Beth, she’s doesn’t form a plan of what will be her excuse if she’s questioned by school authorities. In this day in age, a random adult in a high school library will raise some eyebrows, which didn’t occur here. There’s also an incident involving Nicki following a known gang member. I won’t go into details because it would be a spoiler, but a single mother of two would not have put herself in that type of situation even if she didn’t anticipate it to turn out the way that it did.
What I did like about Finding Sky was Nicki’s relationship with her children and how this wasn’t one of those type of novels where we’re told about the children but never see them make an appearance on the page. I liked the kids and they didn’t distract from the overall story. I also enjoyed the parts of being in PI school. It’s a fascinating job and I got a kick reading about the different gadgets Nicki gets to work with as part of her craft. As for the overall mystery, I made a prediction at how it would end and I was right. Maybe that’s why I didn’t enjoy Finding Sky as much as I thought I would.
Overall, Susan O’Brian’s Finding Sky was a light and easy read. I’m hoping I’ll have better luck with the second book in the series. If you’re a fan of trying out new authors, I recommend Susan O’Brian.