Finlay Donovan is Killing It

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Author: Elle Cosimano
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pub. Date: Feb. 2021 (read Apr. 2021 on Audible)

I listened to this entire audiobook during one rainy weekend while doing jigsaw puzzles and LOVED it! GabbyReads recommended it on her booktube channel and said it was a good audiobook, so I downloaded it on Audible and was immediately pulled into the story. The whole plot is an absolute nightmare train-wreck, but in the most unputdownable way!

Finlay Donovan has recently divorced her husband after he started shacking up with their realtor and she’s struggling to manage her two kids while simultaneously trying to deliver on a book deal for which she has huge writer’s block. She’s spent the advance on her book and the bills are piling up – if she doesn’t submit the rest of her book soon, she might be asked to return the advance.

She meets her agent in a shop to discuss the outline of her murder mystery and an eavesdropper misinterprets their conversation, thinking that Finlay is actually a hired killer. Finlay receives an anonymous note with a huge sum of money to dispose of the woman’s husband. The whole thing is a huge misunderstanding and Finlay tries to tell the woman she’s not a killer, but after doing some research on the husband and reflecting on the huge sum of money, is it possible she could be?

It sounds like an intense book, but the writing is so light and the author packs a ton of comic relief into the narrative that made it such a fun read. It reminded me a little of How to Get Away With Murder because of the run-away storyline. Finlay is a mess and she always seems to be a step behind everything that’s happening around her, which would make for a very stressful reading experience if not for Finlay and Vero’s comedy. 

I don’t want to give anything away about the story because you should definitely experience it for yourself – I’ll just say that Finlay and her sidekick, Vero, make for some truly excellent heroines. I don’t normally give 5 stars to mystery novels and this is by no means quality literary writing, but it was just so much fun to read and when I reflected on it, there was really nothing I would change about it, so 5 stars it is! Recommend if you’re looking to get out of a book slump!

A Murderous Relation

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: Mar. 2020 (read Apr. 2021)

I’ve been having so much fun reading a Veronica Speedwell book each month. This was book number 5. I don’t think I liked it quite as much as book 4, but a solid follow-up for sure! Since we’re so far into the series, I’m not going to bother blurbing this one and it will contain SPOILERS, so if you’re thinking of reading this series, check out my review of the first book, A Curious Beginning, instead.
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I really liked A Dangerous Collaboration because we finally got some movement on the Veronica/Stoker front, which continues (slowly of course) into A Murderous Relation. I think it’s a wise choice on Raybourn’s behalf because romantic relationships are so much of what makes a series like this compelling and if you plan to continue on with the series for an extended period of time, you need to keep the drama! 

So I liked that there was progress in this book. As usual, Veronica and Stoker are up to some wild antics when they infiltrate a sex club to steal a diamond. Raybourn always has the most devilishly intriguing and risqué plots, but it’s part of what makes the series so fun. I liked that this book had a lot of action in it. Some of the other books are a bit slow to get started, but I didn’t find that to be the case with this one. The only thing that I didn’t like was that it was more or less a repeat of the plot of the first book. Obviously there are some changes and I really liked Eddy’s character, but overall a little disappointing not to see the author come up with something different. 

Again, I guess that’s one of the challenges with so long of a series. I did kind of feel like book 5 would actually make a good ending point for the series. We get really good closure at the end of this book and I wonder how much further Raybourn will really be able to take this series and still have it be meaningful. I really respect authors when they know the right time to walk away from a series.

So I haven’t decided if I will read the next book or not. There’s only 1 more that’s been released and since it’s only available in hardback (my collection is all paperback), I was thinking I might wait a year and read it once it’s released in paperback, if I still feel like continuing the series. Part of me definitely wants to continue because the characters are so much fun, but I also feel really satisfied with how far I’ve made it in the series, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

A Dangerous Collaboration

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: Mar. 2019 (read Mar. 2021)
Series: Veronica Speedwell #4

The first book in this series is excellent, but I found books 2 and 3 were not quite as strong as the first book. We get great characterization of our heroes, Veronica and Stoker, but the mysteries were quite slow paced and I felt like I had to trod through the first half of the books before things really picked up.

A Dangerous Collaboration falls into some of the same traps as the last two, but I did find this one so much more compelling! I think it was a really good call to get the characters out of London for a change. Veronica and Stoker are meant to roam and I was getting as frustrated as they were by being London-bound for so long. I loved the inclusion of Stoker’s brother in this book as I think the series does rely heavily on Veronica and Stoker and could use a few more recurring minor characters.

I liked the mystery element in this book – book 2 is probably my least favourite because Veronica and Stoker act more as consulting detectives. They were less connected to the mystery than they were in book 3, but Raybourn really upped the ante on their relationship in this book, which is what made it so compelling for me.

It’s a rough start, with Veronica and Stoker fighting, I really missed their constant banter. But they finally start to reflect more on their feelings and what they mean to one another, plus Stoker starts playing some mind games – I loved everything about it! It was frustrating, but oh so intriguing! The first book was the perfect blend of historical fiction, mystery, and romance, but I felt the romance element has been somewhat missing from books 2 and 3, so it was everything to finally get some drama in this book!

The ending leads right into the next book, so I hope to jump into that one soon!

A Treacherous Curse


Rating:
⭐⭐⭐
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genres: Historical fiction, Mystery
Pub. Date: Jan. 2018 (read Feb. 2021)
Series: Veronica Speedwell #3

Okay, so I’m really on the fence about this one. I liked the content and series development in this book more than the last book (A Perilous Undertaking seemed a bit like a side mystery to me and didn’t really advance the series plot that much), but I struggled to get into it at the beginning.

A Treacherous Curse has a compelling enough mystery, but it starts off so slow. After Veronica and Stoker start investigating, the first half of the book is basically just them interviewing people with very little action. If you like getting into the details of trying to get the mystery, you might enjoy it, but I just found it slow and kind of boring. But then in the second half the book really picks up and I ended up enjoying it more than the last book. There’s a lot of action and I thought the actual mystery was super clever.

What I did really like about this book though was the character development. We finally get some of Stoker’s backstory!! The first book is all about Veronica and the second book feels like a bit of a dead weight in terms of character development, but we learn all about Stoker’s history in this book, which I found a lot more engaging. It was the main factor that propelled me through the first half of the book cause I was so enthralled with what happened with Caroline.

But damnit Raybourn, I need some more romance in this series please! I mean, it’s totally clever to draw out the tension between your characters, but I’m a little obsessed with Veronica and Stoker and I need to see a bit more action here!

So overall, 4 star character development, 3 star pacing. Was on the fence if I would continue the series, but I’ve been convinced and just ordered the next two!

A Perilous Undertaking


Rating:
⭐⭐⭐
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pub. Date: Jan. 2017 (read Jan. 2021)
Series: Veronica Speedwell #2

I don’t have too much to say about this sequel, but I want to write a short review.

It’s impossible to deny that A Perilous Undertaking didn’t have quite the same charm as A Curious Beginning. Everything about the first book is just so delicious – the blending of genres and our quirky, progressive, mystery solving heroine are so fun and unique. I laughed a lot and thoroughly enjoyed reading about the hi-jinx Veronica and Stoker got up to.

A Perilous Undertaking definitely kept me laughing. This is basically a mystery novel set in the late 1800’s about a secret aristocratic sex club. Like wow! Raybourn definitely knows humour! So while I was along for the ride, this book didn’t spend as much time on the personal history of our characters, which I lamented. In A Curious Beginning, Veronica is right in the thick of the mystery and it was a shocking one. Her connection to this mystery was a lot looser and this was more of a “Veronica and Stoker as consulting detectives” scenario.

I still liked it, I laughed, I’ve since read the next book, but it didn’t have quite the same magic as the first book. However, if you love mysteries, you’ll probably still really enjoy these. I tend to read more historical fiction and lit. fiction over mysteries, which may be why I wasn’t as enthralled with this one. Either way, still a great series!