Book review: Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

Young adult suspense writer, Bram Stoker Award finalist and Edgar Award nominee, Elle Cosimano, has turned her hand to adult fiction and she’s a hoot. Finlay Donovan is Killing It is the first in a series of three books, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading the other two after book one.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d liked South Riding, before the divorce. Back before I’d known my husband was sleeping with our real estate agent, who also sat on the board of the homeowners association. Somehow, I’m guessing that’s not what the saleslady had in mind when she’d described our suburban mecca as having a ‘small-town’ feel.

Crime fiction writer Finlay Donovan’s husband ran off with another woman. Finlay is broke, the bills are piling up, she’s late submitting a manuscript to her agent and her husband is threatening to take the kids.

The brochure had featured photos of happy families hugging each other on quaint front porches. It had used words like idyllic and peaceful to describe the neighbourhood, because in the glossy pages of a real estate magazine, no one can see through the windows to the exhausted stabby mommy, or the naked sticky toddler, or the hair and blood and coffee on the floor.

Finlay meets her agent in a cafe to try and get more time to finish her book, after she leaves without success she finds a note in her bag from a woman at the adjacent table who misinterpreted her conversation with her agent thinking Finlay’s a contract killer. The note asks her to kill the woman’s husband for $50,000 and where Finlay can find him on a certain date. Finlay is aghast, but starts to think about what she could do with the money and wondering what’s wrong with the guy that his wife wants him dead.

Fantasies where I let myself calculate how many economy-size packs of Huggies, Lean Cuisines, and baby wipes fifty thousand dollars could buy.

Curiosity gets the better of her and she goes to check the guy out, inadvertently interrupting him attempting to drug a woman in a bar. Finlay diverts the victim, switches the drinks and drugs the husband, rolling him unconsious into her van and driving home. She goes inside to call her policewoman sister who is looking after her kids and when she goes back out to the garage, the guy is dead from the exhaust fumes of her combi. Finlay is in trouble, but this is only the start.

My Google search history alone was probably enough to put me on a government watch list. I wrote suspense novels about murders like this. I’d searched every possible way to kill someone. With every conceivable kind of weapon.

Finlay Donovan is Killing It is full of big bold characters including police, the mob, women who want their husbands dead, Finlay’s nanny and two recalcitrant children. The narrative is fast paced with a twisty plot that will keep you turning the pages as Finlay gets into deeper and deeper trouble. Highly recommended.

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