Publisher: Flight Risk Books (2015)
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A clever plot, engaging characters, and a solid dose of self-deprecating humor make this detective mystery unique and a highly entertaining read.

Rick Valentine, a twenty-something, newly minted private investigator, is discovering that setting up one’s own PI business isn’t all that easy.

Clients aren’t lining up outside his office door and those who do come are more interested in having him find their lost cat than solve a real crime. Rick doesn’t exactly have an instinct for the business, either—once he’s stumbled onto a crime, he’s more likely to dig himself deeper with the bad guys than help put them behind bars. In fact, most of the people in Rick’s life seem to spend their time looking out for him, making sure that he survives to fight another day.

However, readers don’t make it very many pages into this cleverly written novel before realizing that there is far more going on behind the scenes than first appears to be the case.

A past employer who keeps Rick afloat by tossing him odd jobs here and there might also be connected with the death of Rick’s father. His “receptionist” no longer acts like a receptionist at all, instead exhibiting an alarming proficiency at handling a very large, very lethal gun.

Are these two drawing Rick into a life-threatening situation, keeping tabs on him for some reason having to do with his past, or helping him survive as he builds his business? And why are there two truly scary, murderous thugs suddenly looking for him?

April Kelly begins this first novel in her Rick Valentine Mystery series by gently introducing the reader to quirky, humorous characters and carefully laying the foundation for a more complex plot that is tied to past events in the main character’s life.  After settling into thinking you are reading just another humorous cozy mystery, you suddenly realize you are hooked, thoroughly enjoying yourself, and unable to put the book down. This is fun! Clues pile upon clues, nothing is as it seemed in the beginning; Rick’s past is far more mysterious than it originally appeared to be and all those entertaining people you met early on have become compelling characters you truly care about.

Kelly has used her background as a television writer to skillfully develop a far more entertaining mystery novel than is typical of the genre. Valentine’s Day is highly recommended for those who love a good whodunit, endearing characters, and some laugh-out-loud moments.