Thursday Thriller: Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Book 1 of Finlay Donovan
Publisher: Minotaur Books (February 2, 2021)
Length: 355 pages
I’m ashamed to admit it took me way too long to read Finlay Donovan Is Killing It because at first I didn’t think it would be my thing, but then of course the rave reviews started rolling in and made me start to think maybe it is my thing after all! This book ended up being so immensely entertaining that I can only recommend it with all my heart.
But first, let’s set the scene. Protagonist Finlay Donovan is a romance mystery author struggling with ideas for her next book. Part of the reason for her writer’s block is her recent divorce from her scummy ex-husband Steve who had been caught sleeping around with their real estate agent. Now he and the little hussy are getting married, and if that wasn’t soul-crushing enough, Steve is also trying to sue for full custody of his and Finlay’s children, claiming that her lack of a steady income makes her an unfit mother. The thing that hurts the most? Steve isn’t entirely wrong. Finlay is flat broke and the bills are piling up, but as much as she hates going to Steve for help, knowing how he and his fancy lawyer would simply use it against her in court, she has no choice—she must finish her book if she is to have any chance of keeping the kids.
As the story begins, Finlay is having a particularly bad morning. The electricity has just been shut off, the nanny is a no-show, and her four-year-old daughter has just decided to snip off her own hair, cutting herself in the process. Unfortunately, Finlay’s lame attempts to fix it with a knife have only resulted in a sticky, bloody fiasco, and in her hurry to make it across town to meet with her agent, the whole mess gets swept up into her diaper bag. After dropping the kids off at Steve’s (again, hating herself that she has to depend on him) she rushes off to her lunch date, preparing to face down a very angry and very impatient agent. Sure enough, Finlay gets an earful and spends the next little while spit-balling story ideas about how to kill her next victim, promising that she’ll deliver something so good that she’ll be demanding more money—pretty much anything that would buy her more time to write her book.
Sitting at the next table though, is a nervous looking woman seeming to eavesdrop while glancing down into the contents of Finlay’s diaper bag. At first, Finlay thinks nothing of it…but then she leaves to walk her agent to her car, returning to find a note left under her plate from the mysterious woman containing a phone number and instructions to whack her husband for no less than fifty thousand dollars! With horror, Finlay realizes how someone listening in on her previous conversation without any context might have gotten the wrong idea, especially after seeing the bloody, hair-covered knife in her diaper bag. Finlay quickly decides to call the number in the note to explain that she’s no contract killer, but then it turns out the woman’s husband is a very, very bad man. Plus, there’s no denying fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money. More than enough to solve all her financial problems…
Needless to say, the rest of the story is just too good to spoil, you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens for yourself! But what I can talk about though, is how funny, fast-paced, and entertaining this novel was, which resulted in me blowing through its pages in record time. There were also plenty of laughs and some places that were over-the-top, but that didn’t matter; I was in love with the plot’s freewheeling, feel-good nature and was simply having too much fun to care.
Finlay is also a riot of a protagonist. She never gets a break, and it’s easy to sympathize with her and her life of chaos, even if a lot of her problems are of her own making. Still, she is unstoppable, despite being surrounded by forces against her like her cheating asshole of an ex-husband, his snide and spiteful bride-to-be, or even her own bratty children who take her love for granted. Luckily though, she has Vero, who hands-down wins best supporting character of the year. I loved everything about the two of them, from the quirky, unexpected way they ended up together to the hilarious interactions they had.
There’s some romance too, along with the mystery. In many ways, Finlay Donovan is Killing It is very much how I would imagine the main character’s books would read like, if she was a real author. The pure enthusiasm for comedy and intrigue simply cannot be contained. I wish I had started it sooner, though it makes me so happy to know this will be a series, with another book to come out very soon. I cannot wait to go on another adventure with Finlay and Vero!