Author: Elle Cosimano
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pub. Date: Jan. 2023
I’m a huge fan of the Finlay Donovan series. It’s an outlandish mystery series featuring a single mom turned accidental contract killer. Everything that happens is over the top and requires a certain amount of disbelief, but it’s a lot of fun and never takes itself too seriously.
The first book is definitely my favourite, but the second book was a lot of fun as well. Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun is the 3rd book in the series, but it didn’t feel as anchored as the other books and I found myself questioning at what point this mystery and the out-of-control antics will ever start to become too much?
The first book has closure and is easy to read as a standalone, whereas the third book felt like more of a direct continuation of the second book. I couldn’t remember a lot of details from the second book, but the further you read, the more convoluted the story becomes and it does finally start to enter into the territory of just not believable. Finlay and Vero really push the limits and I thought they were needlessly sloppy in this book. We do get resolution on some of the story points at the end, but we’re immediately propelled into what will form the basis for the fourth book. The longer things go with the same continuing storyline, the harder it is to suspend disbelief that they won’t get caught. It’s easy to see how mistakes can get made and evidence overlooked on one or two occasions, but Finlay is at the center of so much crime that I can only assume at some point she’s going to have a crooked cop working for her.
Which brings me to my next point – I didn’t like the setting of this book. The idea of a citizen’s police academy is just a bizarre concept for me. Is this something they actually do in America? What is the motivation? It seemed like a contrived concept for Cosimano to force all her characters into close proximity, but I couldn’t fathom why such a thing would even exist. The reasoning for Finlay and Vero attending was also weak and felt akin to lighting a cigarette at a gas station. I think the idea could have worked for a portion of the story, like Finlay and Vero attend a 1-2 day workshop with police to try and collect intel, but setting the entire story there really changes the dynamic of the book and turns it into more of a closed-door mystery, which doesn’t work for a runaway train like Finlay and Vero.
More importantly, I’m not entirely sure how comfortable I was with the narrative of policing that’s presented in this book. On the one hand, the fact that Finlay gets away with so much is a scathing indictment of the entrenched injustice in policing; that police can’t see the real perpetrator right in front of their eyes. But the narratives around hyper vigilance and gun-use reinforce the idea that policing inherently requires violence, when a lot of police work could be solved through investing in community and social services instead. In theory, a citizen’s awareness program is great, but that program should be focused on recognizing and providing support to those at risk rather than teaching a single mom how to cuff someone and use a gun. Neither are skills I want the average American perfecting or using as a common citizen and are more likely to lead to more profiling and unnecessary violence from over-enthusiastic vigilantes.
So overall, definitely some problematic elements to this book. It still has a lot of what I liked about the first two though. Mostly that it’s funny and never takes itself too seriously. Vero is easily my favourite character and I was glad to see a primary love interest finally arise for Finlay. I was definitely gunning for these two to be together, but I have to admit, despite all the antics, I didn’t see a whole lot of personal development for any of the characters. But it’s a plot driven novel and if you want something fast-paced, this is definitely it. I will keep reading the series, but I would like to see the author do something a bit different with the next one. At some point I feel like Finlay and Vero are going to have to get caught for something or it feels like there are no real stakes.