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'Finlay Donovan Is Killing It' review: Diary of a madcap hit woman

"Finlay Donovan Is Killing It" is the new

"Finlay Donovan Is Killing It" is the new comic mystery by Elle Cosimano. Credit: Macmillan/TNS

FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT by Elle Cosimano (Minotaur, 368 pp., $26.99)

Finlay Donovan is the stressed-out and hapless, but also appealing, heroine of "Finlay Donovan Is Killing It," the first adult novel from YA author Elle Cosimano. Part screwball comedy, part morality tale, it amusingly deals with parenting, bad divorces, reinventing oneself, rising above misery and, well, becoming a hit woman. It’s a solid, thoughtful and funny yet poignant mystery that never once becomes a one-note story.

Finlay is at a low point. She’s months behind even starting her latest romantic suspense novel; her children, ages 2 and 4, are out of control; she is broke and her despicable ex-husband wants her to pay him rent and is threatening to take custody of the kids.

Late to a meeting with her agent, Finlay first must disguise herself because the suburban Virginia restaurant has banned her for life — a little matter of dumping a bowl of soup over the head of her ex-husband’s girlfriend. In discussing plot twists in the novel she can’t seem to write, Finlay is mistaken for a real killer planning her next hit. Eavesdropping at the next table, Patricia Mickler offers Finlay $50,000 to dispatch her husband, Harris, "a very, very bad man."

Finlay is appalled at the idea, though she wonders just how bad Harris is. And she’s appalled at herself for realizing that $50,000 could solve many problems. As Finlay looks into Harris’ life, she finds an unlikely ally in her nanny, Vero, who has school loans to pay.

The novel balances the morality of being a hit woman with the morality of ridding the world of an evil man. Cosimano infuses her story with large swaths of humor while adding realistic terror.

"Finlay Donovan Is Killing It" sets a new career path for Cosimano, and Finlay discovers a new income stream as she will find no shortage of bad men.

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