I’d been reading a lot of heavy stuff lately, so I decided to break up that rhythm with something a little on the lighter side. Cue the audiobook of the first installment of Elle Cosimano’s new series, Finlay Donovan Is Killing It. It’s a pretty straightforward mistaken identity comedic romantic suspense novel, in which a single mom writer of, yes, romantic suspense novels gets mistaken for a contract killer and gets hired to bump off a woman’s husband who, as it turns out, is a real nasty piece of work who also works for the Russian mob. Finlay doesn’t actually kill him, but when she winds up with his dead body in her van anyway, everything unspools from there.
I wish it was actually good. But Finlay is kind of a mess of cliches: her husband cheated on her, she’s a terrible cook, she only wears yoga pants, she’s clumsy, etc. A lot of the plot twists and developments are telegraphed pretty clearly, so there weren’t really many surprises. And the love triangle Cosimano wrangles in there doesn’t land for me, in part because she cuts one leg of it out of the picture for half the book. Also I am not in the mood for hot cops as part of the love triangle, tbh!
I get that I am not the target audience for this book. But also, let me posit another problem with it: Cosimano wants us to see hapless Finlay as struggling to choose between two men, the hot bartender law student who just gets her and the hot detective who gets her going. But here’s the thing: the most romantic chemistry in this story is between Finlay and her nanny (who is also an accounting student), Veronica. Who knows everything about Finlay? Vero. Who sticks by Finlay through thick and thin, even when there’s no good goddamn reason for it? Vero. Who is proud of Finlay’s writing and defends it to other people, including her shitty ex? Vero. Who cleans up all of Finlay’s literal and figurative messes? Vero. Who is over-invested in her employer’s love life? Vero. Are you catching my drift? This is a straight romance that would actually immediately improve by like…25% if it would just be a queer romance instead. (It still wouldn’t be great but it would be better. It also needs to commit more to the darkness of its dark comedy premise.)
It ends on a cliffhanger, but I’m going to leave installment #2 for the people it’s actually meant for, i.e. stressed out moms with sticky kids and messy houses (no shade, I also have a messy house and am a disaster human), and politely extricate myself from Finlay’s Panera before she takes on her next contract.
2.5 stars but I’m rounding up to 3 because the audiobook narrator was real solid and deserves recognition.