Crime fiction readers who occasionally stray into the Young Adult category will likely already know the name Elle Cosimano. After all, her 2015 release, Nearly Gone, was nominated for an Edgar Award. Now Cosimano is turning her attention to more mainstream crime fiction – and if Finlay Donovan is Killing It is any indication of her niche, she is going to be a welcome addition to the ranks.
The tone of Finlay Donovan is Killing It lies somewhere between hilarious and heartfelt, or conversely satire and seriousness. Elle Cosimano draws the reader in with some unabashedly uproarious set-pieces before pulling back the layers to reveal a deeper emotional core. Regardless of the nuance, Cosimano’s prose is always elegant and addictive.
Finlay Donovan is Killing It starts with a moment every author wishes they had thought of. Our heroine – Finlay – is meeting with her agent at the local Panera. As they discuss the plot of her new novel and how it must be a “hit” to elevate her “contract,” they are overheard by a stranger who comes to believe that Finlay is a killer for hire. But rather than report her to authorities, this woman wants to pay Finlay (a hell of a lot of money) to knock off her scoundrel of a husband.
Finlay can certainly use the money, but kill someone? Finlay thinks maybe if she just trails the loser, she will uncover a way to help without the need for bloodshed. One misadventure after another gets Finlay tangled in a knot that puts her own life at risk. Fortunately, she gains a side-kick and accomplice in her former nanny, Vero (short for Veronica.) You know those friends that you could call on to help dispose of a body? Put Vero at the top of that list – literally! With Finlay and Vero we have the Lucille Ball and Ethel Mertz of crime-solving…er crime-causing…er whatever you want to call it. These two are a match made in literary heaven and will keep readers entertained with their hijinks.
Juxtaposed with all of this madcap adventure is the serious business of single parenting, especially during a contentious divorce where a new (beautiful) step-parent is soon to be involved. Like the hitman plot that fuels the novel, these domestic scenes vary between comedically silly and tragically unfortunate. While Elle Cosimano keeps the surface light, there are real-world issue on display here and readers will come away with more respect for working parents.
Reading Elle Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan is Killing It is like eating a mixed collection of bon-bons while lounging next to a crackling fire under a cozy blanket – you never know where the next bite will take you, but you know it will warm your heart, comfort your soul, and be damn satisfying. Fortunately, this is the start of a series, so Finlay and gang will be back for more misadventures soon – and hopefully for years and years to come.
Disclaimer: A galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.