Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead

Elle Cosimano

Quick Synopsis

Finlay Donovan is back and still a hot mess. Someone wants Finlay’s ex-husband, Steven, dead, but saving him will send her down a rabbit hole of hit-women disguised as soccer moms, and a little bit more involvement with the Russian mob than she’d like.

Publisher’s Synopsis

From Edgar-Award nominee Elle Cosimano, comes Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead―the hilarious and heart-pounding follow-up to Finlay Donovan is Killing It.

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 hit-women disguised as soccer moms, 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… and if that means bending a few laws then so be it.

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…

Book Review

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead was one of my most anticipated books of 2022. I thoroughly enjoyed Finlay Donovan Is Killing It last year and was looking forward to more humor and soccer mom turned hit woman. I am sad to say Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead fell short of my expectations.

Part of what I loved about the first Finlay Donovan book was the absurd plot of Finlay becoming a hit woman. It was unexpected and fun. There was also a lot of humor that I enjoyed despite not being suburban or a mom. For me, both of these were missing in the sequel. Elle Cosimano noted in her acknowledgements that she struggled writing humor amidst the pandemic and everything else going on in the world. I think that it definitely showed and I feel for her. I am sure writing during these unprecedented times with pressing deadlines and the expectations of an equal or superior sequel was not easy.

The plot of Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead did not live up to the first novel. First, Finlay does not take any hired hits. Instead, the book really focuses on her trying to figure out who placed a hit out on her ex-husband and trying to save him (along with not getting caught for her illegal behavior). Julian, the law student, and Nick, the hot cop, are back in the picture. For me, I thought this story focused too much on them and their efforts to rescue Finlay. My feminist self cringes when a book preaches that the female protagonist does not need saving by men and then the plot totally ignores that. In addition, the story was a bit overly convoluted. While I did not have a difficult time following the storyline, I think keeping it a bit less contrived would have made it a stronger plot.

The “B plot” of Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead is focused on Vero being secretive and hiding something from Finlay. However, this is really in the background and not given much time in the book. By the end of the book, it still felt unresolved. This was a bit disappointing and also left the dynamic between Finlay and Vero without the same spark.

The last thing I will say is I wish I had reread Finlay Donovan Is Killing It before picking up the sequel. Unfortunately, I just did not have time amid my other book obligations. One thing that I often find in series is that authors pick up at a set time after the first book ends (in this case a month) and do not review or rehash anything from the first installment. This was true for Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead. For someone like me that read the first book a year ago and does not have the best memory, I struggled to pick up and take off with the continued story without any discussion of what occurred in the past and who some of the characters were.

Overall, I enjoyed Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead and am still looking forward to the third installment in this series. But I am hoping that sticks a bit more closely to the first book in humor, tone, and plot. If you enjoyed the Finlay Donovan Is Killing It I still recommend reading the sequel but with tempered expectations.


Overall Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Rating: 3 out of 5.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Character development

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead



Publication Date
February 1, 2022


Storygraph Rating
4.22 stars

Goodreads Rating
4.23 stars

Buy Now

Note: I received a gifted e-galley of this book from the publisher, Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Press). Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.

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