"With just the right mix of clever twists, endearing charm, looming threats, and contemporary issues, Woo debuts quite the absorbing new mystery series."Library Journal, Starred Review
"This winning series launch from Woo...perceptively explores the theme of image and personal identity throughout. Readers will look forward to seeing more of the beguiling Siobhan."Publishers Weekly
"A heroine who’s by turns wide-eyed, gravely amused, susceptible, and plenty cool enough for an encore." Kirkus Reviews
"This first in a series holds promise, given Woo’s punchy prose style [and] diverse milieu. A series to watch."Booklist
"A diverse cast replete with vividly sketched charactersthe majority of them femaleelevate this fun take on the classic PI novel. Kinsey Millhone fans, this one’s for you.”Mystery Scene
"An energetic romp with a sneakily sinister side, Skin Deep follows charming reluctant private eye Siobhan O'Brien onto a college campus and a spiritual retreat teeming with shady secrets."Steph Cha, Award-Winning Author of YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY
"SKIN DEEP reads like a fast-paced, light mysteryall the while it explores thought-provoking themes of cultural, societal, and familial obligations, and the complicated power dynamics therein. With Siobhan O’Brien, Woo creates an intriguing series anchor whom we can delight in watching climb a steep PI learning curve with wit, intelligence, and brave resourcefulness. Siobhan is a wonderful addition to a beautiful tradition and I’m excited to read more of her adventures."S.G. Wong, Award-Nominated Author of The Lola Starke series
“Siobhan O’Brien (black haired Asian adopted by an American Irish father and Nordic mother) perfectly fits the spunky independent investigator gap left by Kinsey Millhone. I love how she delivers lines like, ‘Surveillance makes the tummy grow fonderfor food, that is,’ in this funny, entertaining mystery that hits all my favourite buttons.”Ovidia Yu, Author of Aunty Lee Mystery series and The Crown Colony series
"PI Siobhan O'Brien, a Korean-American adoptee who finds herself unexpectedly the sole proprietor of a PI firm, is a welcome addition to the genre. She's smart, brave, funny, and dog-with-a-bone determined. SKIN DEEP gives her an intriguing case and surrounds her with wonderful characters. I hope to see much more of Siobhan O'Brien in the future.”SJ Rozan, best-selling author of PAPER SON
"Sung Woo skillfully navigates the world of identity and family through this amazing detective novel. Woo’s story brims with wit, and his PI, Siobhan O’Brien, rings with jaded authenticity." Ed Lin, author of Ghost Month and 99 Ways to Die
Despite her Asian features, her father really is Irish, her mother Norwegian. Her name is Siobhan O'Brien, never mind everyone's surprise when trying to gauge the incongruity between her face and that moniker. Short answer: Siobhan is a Korean-born, upstate New York-raised transracial adoptee. At 40, she's just inherited a private investigation agency since her boss of two years has suddenly dropped dead (of natural causes). The business has enough banked to last three months, or she could sell and net a comfy $20,000-ish. Inexperience aside, she chooses to stay open, and her first case turns out to be a doozy: to reunite her late best friend's younger sister with her missing teenage daughter, Siobhan will need to infiltrate a radical womyn's group at a nearby college, agree to trespassing, check into a yoga center, get poisoned by mushrooms, avoid a multinational billionaire's posse, and, in between, maybe even risk falling in love. VERDICT With just the right mix of clever twists, endearing charm, looming threats, and contemporary issues (identity, privilege, cultural appropriation, the ugliest parts of the beauty trade), literary novelist Woo (Love Love) debuts quite the absorbing new mystery series, hopefully with multiple volumes to come.—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC
Woo strikes out in a wholly new direction with this soft-boiled debut mystery about a private eye’s search for a frenemy’s missing daughter.
On the day she’s celebrating her second anniversary with the Ed Baker Investigative Agency, Korean American adoptee Siobhan O’Brien, nee Kim Shee-Bong, finds her boss unexpectedly dead, leaving her the sole proprietor of a business worth maybe $20,000 on a good day. Will Siobhan, an ex-reporter of 40, shut the place down? Not if pushy Josie Sykes, the younger sister of Siobhan’s late friend Marlene, has anything to say about it. Josie’s daughter, Penelope Hae Jun Sykes, who, like Siobhan, was adopted, has vanished from Llewellyn College, where she was a first-year student. The members of the Womyn of Llewellyn, who took her in and maybe did a number on her, insist that she’s fled the emotional abuse of her overbearing mother and that they don’t have to answer to her. Siobhan, who interviewed Llewellyn president Vera Wheeler shortly after her appointment, finds that an awful lot has changed on campus in the five years since. Wheeler seems determined to admit no one but beauty queens and make over the college into a temple of state-of-the-art cosmetology. Her plans have put her at odds with the Krishna Center in nearby Hawthorne, New York, where Penny’s allegedly hunkered down—or maybe, as Siobhan gradually learns when she goes undercover at Llewellyn and Krishna as a reporter, they haven’t after all. Woo’s vision of the Stepford College is logistically shaky but metaphorically resonant.
The prize is a heroine who’s by turns wide-eyed, gravely amused, susceptible, and plenty cool enough for an encore.