The Finlay Donovan Series, Book 1

From the publisher:

“Getting the job done” for one single mom takes on a whole new meaning in Finlay Donovan is Killing It.

Finlay Donovan is killing it . . . except, she’s really not. She’s a stressed-out single-mom of two and struggling novelist, Finlay’s life is in chaos: the new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her, and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head after an incident with scissors.

When Finlay is overheard discussing the plot of her new suspense novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer, and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband in order to make ends meet . . . Soon, Finlay discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart, as she becomes tangled in a real-life murder investigation.

Fast-paced, deliciously witty, and wholeheartedly authentic in depicting the frustrations and triumphs of motherhood in all its messiness, hilarity, and heartfelt moment, Finlay Donovan Is Killing It is the first in a brilliant new series from YA Edgar Award nominee Elle Cosimano.

This was such a fun read! This book came out last year and I promptly lost it somewhere on my Kindle. The sequel came out a couple of weeks ago, so I dug this one up so I could start reading the series in order. Yes, I do that on occasion! The NY Times review said, “Cosimano skillfully combines suspense and laughs in the manner of Janet Evanovich’s early (and best) novels” so I was all in. That was one of my favorite series, at least the first dozen or so books. So I was hopeful here and it did not disappoint.

Finlay Donovan is a mess. She’s recently divorced and fighting with Steven, her ex, about the kids, ages two and four. He left her for a realtor, and is trying to gain full custody. Finlay writes romantic suspense books for a living, but she’s not making much, to say the least. Her bills are piling up, her minivan is breaking down, and she can’t afford a good lawyer to defend her. When Steven decides to fire the nanny since Finlay works from home, she loses it. When she finally gets hold of the nanny, Vero, she learns that the real reason she was fired was because she didn’t want to have sex with Steven. Vero and Finlay bond. become besties and eventually partners in crime. Sort of.

Meanwhile, her agent is breathing down her neck about her next book. The deadline has come and gone and they arrange to meet at Panera. As they are discussing the murders at the heart of her books, a woman sitting nearby keeps giving her strange looks. Turns out she thinks Finlay is a hit man (hit woman? Hit-mom!) and wants to hire her to kill her husband. He is a bad guy for sure, but Finlay isn’t that desperate. At least she doesn’t think she is. But the woman won’t take no for an answer so Finlay decides to check the guy out at least.

Turns out he is worse than she even thought. She meets up with him in a bar at a networking event, where she witnesses him putting drugs into his date’s drink while she is in the restroom. That’s date, not wife. Incensed, Finlay pretends they met at a previous party, gets him close enough to her that she can switch the drinks behind his back. She manages to get him out the back door of the bar and into the back of her minivan as he passes out. She heads home, not sure what to do with him. After contacting his wife, she is given the password to his phone and she realizes that this is his MO; he drugs married women, takes a bunch of pictures of them in very compromising positions and is apparently blackmailing them.

He ends up dead by accident, and the wife tells a friend about Finlay and her new career is born. Sort of. Meanwhile, she had met this very cute bartender/law student, Julian, at the event and even though he is a few years younger than she is, there is some serious chemistry. And her sister, Georgia, is a cop who is trying to set her up with a very hot detective, Nick, and there is chemistry there as well.

Oline Cogdill of the Sun Sentinel neatly sums it up: “Part screwball comedy, part morality tale, the amusing Finlay Donovan Is Killing It is also a tale about parenting, bad divorces, reinventing oneself, rising above misery and, well, becoming a hit woman. It’s a solid, thoughtful and funny yet poignant mystery that never once becomes a one-note story.” This is no cozy mystery though; this borders on thriller with an appropriate amount of gore. It’s a terrific read, and I no sooner turned the last page when I started the second book in the series, Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead. Don’t miss it!

2/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT by Elle Cosimano. Minotaur (January 4, 2022). ISBN: 978-1250830449. 384p.




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