I don’t usually read funny mysteries but found the first installment in this comedic mystery series to be charming. What did I think of the sequel? Check out my review of Finlay Donovan Knocks Em Dead!
Finlay Donovan Knocks Em Dead by Elle Cosimano.
To be published on February 1, 2022 by Minotaur Books.
Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy for review. This post contains affiliate links – thanks so much for your support!
Synopsis: Finlay Donovan is—once again—struggling to finish her next novel and keep her head above water as a single mother of two. On the bright side, she has her live-in nanny and confidant Vero to rely on, and the only dead body she’s dealt with lately is that of her daughter’s pet goldfish. On the not-so-bright side, someone out there wants her ex-husband, Steven, out of the picture. Permanently. Whatever else Steven may be, he’s a good father, but saving him will send her down a rabbit hole of soccer moms disguised as hit-women, and a little bit more involvement with the Russian mob than she’d like. Meanwhile, Vero’s keeping secrets, and Detective Nick Anthony seems determined to get back into her life. He may be a hot cop, but Finlay’s first priority is preventing her family from sleeping with the fishes. With her next book’s deadline looming and an ex-husband to keep alive, Finlay is quickly coming to the end of her rope. She can only hope there isn’t a noose at the end of it.
Review of Finlay Donovan Knocks Em Dead
It can be hard for a sequel to a popular book to be just as amazing as the first. Sadly, I felt this was the case with Finlay Donovan Knocks Em Dead.
The first book in the series, Finlay Donovan Is Killing It, featured a main character who was truly at the end of her rope. She was a woman whose husband left her for someone else, a mom struggling to manage two small and unruly children, a writer whose agent was pressuring her to produce her next manuscript. When Finlay, in desperation, is pitching a seemingly far-fetched book idea to her agent, a woman sitting nearby mistakes Finlay for a contract killer and wants to hire her. Finlay, who needs money desperately, leans into this new side hustle with hilarious results.
Finlay Donovan Knocks Em Dead features Finlay in decidedly less dire circumstances. She’s published her book and has a reliable nanny. Her agent is no longer ready to drop her, her cheating husband has been somewhat neutralized, and there are not one but TWO hot guys interested in her. Where to go from there? Well, that’s sort of the problem. The level of conflict and peril in this book feels significantly reduced. Finlay is kind of living her best life!
The cliffhanger in book one is that (MILD SPOILER) someone has now put out a hit on her ex-husband, Steven. But why should she care? Why should she spend so much of Finlay Donovan Knocks Em Dead trying to protect her shady ex? When does she have time to write books? Why does her agent always think her half-baked ideas are genius? Why should both the love interests from book one be almost completely sidelined in this second installment? Why has the wig-scarf also been sidelined? These are the mysteries I’m puzzled about.
I like Vero, Finley’s nanny, but this book was mostly Vero and Finlay running around trying to crack a mystery that felt a continuation of book one. I’m all for series mysteries but I think they should be pretty much self-contained. If you haven’t read the first book, I think you’ll be fairly confused. (But DO read the first book if you haven’t!)
In her afterward, author Elle Cosimano discusses how hard it was to write a comic book in a pandemic, and I completely understand. I am hoping that in book 3, Finlay gets her mojo back!
I thought this sounded fun but I didn’t realise it was so strongly a continuation of the story from the first book (which I haven’t read yet). You’re right that series mysteries need to be far more self contained for the main plot, especially when it’s only the second book in the series. I’ll still be checking this series out, but here’s hoping the third book will come back strong again.
The first book has a cliffhanger that segues right into this book, and that plot is continued (and concluded) here. I feel like in a mystery series, you should ideally be able to read each book without having read the others. But I don’t feel like that is the case here.
“should she spend so much of Finlay Donovan Knocks Em Dead trying to protect her shady ex? When does she have time to write books? Why does her agent always think her half-baked ideas are genius?”
LOL, this sounds more like an alt-reality book than a mystery one!
Haha I mean I get that it’s supposed to be kind of fun and frothy, and not realistic. But I still think it needed higher stakes.
That does sound like a good book. Good to know to read from the 1st book.
Hope you try it, Mary!