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Friday, October 17, 2014

Finding Sky By Susan O’Brien

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

When a pregnant 18 year-old with a history of running away goes missing, not even her parents are concerned enough to involve the police. Although Beth agreed to give her baby up for adoption, her parents were strongly against it. No one seems surprised the girl may have changed her mind and fled.

Kenna hoped to adopt Beth’s child and is frantic to find the girl. She calls best friend Nicki Valentine for help. A stay-at-home mother of two wouldn’t seem to be the best choice, but considering Nicki’s fascination with crime, her degree in forensic psychology and enrollment in a private investigation class, Nicki has the enthusiasm, if not the experience, of any professional. Fortunately, she has the supervision and advice of her instructor, Dean.

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Nicki learns that Marcus, Beth’s ex-boyfriend and likely father of her child, has gang ties. She’s in the middle of a gang shooting, has her car shot at and becomes embroiled in a battle over drugs and gang territory. One might question why she would continue to endanger herself and her family, but Kenna’s desperation to find Beth and the baby, keeps her going. With her mother as a reliable babysitter, Nicki uses her son’s Scholastic Scooby-doo binoculars to follow suspects as she sucks down juice boxes and animal cookies on stakeouts, and even squeezes in a preschool pizza party.

While a thirty-six year-old woman’s ability to blend in with a crowd of teens does strain the limits of believability, Nicki gets a pass with sunglasses and a questionable wardrobe, given the intoxication level of the partygoers. Her lack of judgment is more of a concern, as she risks breaking-and-entering into a home and takes her children on investigate outings.

Image source: Henery Press

It would be oversimplification to call this “Mom Lit,” yet this novel has one of the more realistic portrayals of juggling work with home life. Finding a reliable babysitter is just as important as researching the background of a gangbanger, although Nicki does find that carting around children works as camouflage when interrogating neighbors. Nicki’s support system provides assistance when experience fails. The too-perfect Dean (he rides a motorcycle and drives an Aston Martin, for heaven’s sake) offers his considerable skills as he distracts with his charm.

This debut mystery offers menace without violence, intrigue and a realistic depiction of a single parent struggling to find an identity outside of motherhood. The hint of romance and element of humor further ensures that this novel will attract a following of cozy-reading fans for the upcoming sequel, Sky High.

To enter to win a copy of Finding Sky, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Sky,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 25, 2014. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).