• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

Cosimano's mystery has a wonderfully quirky setup and campy tone, and Finlay's missteps add to the darkly playful feeling of the book.

Finlay Donovan is an author and a recently single mom, divorced from a cheating man (side note: he and his gloating fiancé are both in need of a major reckoning). She's struggling both emotionally and financially as she tries to support her two young children.


The morning has been a disaster. Her daughter cut her own hair (and bloodied her scalp), her babysitter didn't show up, and the unpaid electricity bill finally caught up to her, so now she's trapped by an unpowered garage door. To cap it all off, she's late for a meeting she dreads, in which she'll be delivering the news to her agent that yet again she doesn't have the manuscript she's promised her publisher.


But the women's impassioned brunchtime discussion about the plot of Finlay's suspense novel--along with a bloody cloth (which she used earlier to stanch her daughter's bleeding skin) that's sticking out of her bag, a roll of duct tape used for an earlier emergency fix, and Finlay's vehemently expressed ideas about the future monetary demands she'll make for her next project--catch the attention of a nearby diner. The woman mistakenly interprets what's happening and leaves Finlay with a mysterious note implying that Finlay is involved in something sinister--and offering her a hit job.


Cosimano's mystery has a wonderfully quirky setup and campy tone. We know through Finlay's point of view what she is and isn't doing, but people keep dropping dead around her. She's at least tangentially wrapped up in the deaths, but not a cold-blooded killer. Dangerous people and their high-stakes decisions are swirling around her so that she's fairly confident she's in a precarious situation, yet her disguises, spur-of-the-moment plans (both successful and disastrous), and the absurdity of her intimacy with certain characters in light of recent events (including her former nanny, who knows everything; her sister the cop and the cute cop and cute bartender she runs into during her various schemes, who do not)--all of this makes the book feel darkly playful.


And that ending! Cosimano perfectly sets the scene for the next book in the series.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Cosimano is also the author of the young adult mystery series Nearly Gone, the young adult fantasy series

Seasons of the Storm, and the young adult books Holding Smoke and The Suffering Tree. This is her first book for adults.


I mentioned this book in the Greedy Reading List Three Books I'm Reading Now, 3/24/21 Edition.