Book Review: Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

Reviewed by Kamryn Kronschnabel, Patron Services Librarian

Need a humorous, subversive mystery where we know exactly who hid the missing body? Finlay Donovan is Killing It, by Elle Cosimano, piqued my interest as soon as we added it to the collection, and now that it’s off my TBR I can confirm that it was a hilarious, original story. 


Finlay’s life is about to completely fall apart. She’s in the middle of a custody fight for her two kids against her cheating ex, her bills areunnamed (1).png stacking up, and she has such bad writer's block she hasn’t even started the book she’s contractually obligated to finish in a month’s time. After a wild morning, she has a meeting with her literary agent in the middle of a busy restaurant to hash out the details of the next murder-mystery she’s going to write… something gets lost in translation, though, and a woman from the next table accidentally assumes Finlay is a hitwoman and slips her an offer for $50,000 cash to kill her husband. Finlay, reasonably, is totally aghast at first… but then again, what kind of custody lawyer could she get with $50,000? Could taking the job actually get her out of debt, and could it help kick her suspense-novel writer’s block to the curb? Of course, Finlay figures out, killing a man and disposing of his body are much easier in fiction than in real life. Especially when you don’t know what kind of dangerous people he might associate with. 


I didn’t expect this to be a mystery going into it (I mean, it’s apparent from the flap of the book that Finlay is pretty likely to be the killer), but I was surprised to find that it actually could be called a subversive cozy mystery - Finlay Donovan is Killing It checks lots of the “cozy mystery genre” boxes! Finlay, our main character, is an amateur sleuth with a police officer for a sister, a spunky babysitter for a sidekick, a nosy neighbor who keeps track of everything happening in the surrounding houses, and a tendency to eavesdrop and throw on quick disguises. The majority of the characters are also pretty likable (with a few intentional exceptions), and Finlay turns out to be a witty, darkly humorous first-person narrator as she gets in way over her head. Like most mysteries, it isn’t meant to be super realistic, and the over-the-top coincidences and twists were delightful to watch Finlay try to wriggle out of. 


Even more exciting: Cosimano released a sequel early in 2022 titled Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead. I, for one, can’t wait to see where she takes these characters – not to mention how they handle the predicaments she left them with at the end of this first book! 

If you’d like to see how Finlay digs herself a hole (maybe metaphorically, maybe literally - I won’t spoil it!), Finlay Donovan is Killing It and the follow-up Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead are available both in Charles City Public Library’s physical collection and through BRIDGES and Hoopla as an audiobook or ebook. Check them out in an electronic format by logging on through our website, or come in or call to check out our print copies!