Audio-Book Review: Elle Cosimano’s FINLAY DONOVAN JUMPS THE GUN

Finlay_Donovan_Jumps_Gun“Murder and mayhem,” many reviewers note about Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan series… And I certainly got gobs of it listening to book #3. There are readers who love a plot-driven narrative and readers who don’t and what I again learned was I’m not the lover of the plot-driven narrative…BUT I absolutely loved this narrator and would listen to her read a grocery list. More of why later. For now, here’s the convoluted Finlay Donovan plot from the, thank the reading gods, publisher, because I certainly couldn’t unravel it:

Finlay Donovan has been in messes before—after all, she’s an author and single mom who’s a pro at getting out bloodstains for rather unexpected reasons—but none quite like this. After she and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they may have “borrowed” in the process of saving the life of Finlay’s ex-husband, the Russian mob got her out of debt. But now Finlay owes them.

Still running the show from behind bars, mob boss Feliks has a task for Finlay: find a contract killer before the cops do. Problem is, the killer might be an officer.

Luckily, hot cop Nick has started up a citizen’s police academy, and combined pressure from Finlay’s looming book deadline and Feliks is enough to convince Finlay and Vero to get involved. Through firearm training and forensic classes (and some hands-on research with the tempting detective), Finlay and Vero have the perfect cover-up to sleuth out the real criminal and free themselves from the mob’s clutches—all the while dodging spies, confronting Vero’s past, and juggling the daily trials of parenthood.

Cosimano’s caper has a great opening scene: Finlay coaxing her toddler out of a toilet stall, luring him with Cherrios, while its terrified middle-aged denizen panics…it’s funny, “gag-driven” but amusing. I thought we weren’t off to a bad start. While I admit to being disadvantaged for not having read books #1 and 2, it’s rare I’ve been this listener-whiplashed following a narrative. There are many bad guys: some mob, some cop, definitely the ex-h is an a-hole and there’s much running from place to place and threats coming Finlay and Vero’s way like ricocheting bullets. After a while, I didn’t bother making sense of it and just went along for the ride.

I was pleasantly surprised when things slowed down, relatively speaking when describing a whirling-dervish of a novel, and Finlay and Vero got breathing room at the citizen’s police academy and ta-rah!, some character development! Well, not quite development, but we do get to know Finlay better and there’s a lovely sequence of growing feelings with “hot cop Nick”. This was an important segue because, as I already said, I can’t work up any feels for a plot-driven narrative. We learn what a good sort Finlay is, despite the trail of corpses she leaves in her wake, but “it’s not her fault!”. She wants to make things right, is savvy about the ex, is a good friend, deserves a “hot cop” and said cop is upright, moral, and well, “hot”, so he deserves her too. In the last fifteen minutes or so, when things were finally coming together nicely for Finlay and Vero: bad guys foiled, good guys hovering romantically…boom, the caper antics take off again and book three ends on yet another frenetic cliffhanger.

I won’t be following Finlay’s next adventure. I didn’t enjoy the pace, or antics; what I did enjoy, the humour, the child-characters, the romance, they’re in short supply. But I will seek this wonderful narrator, Angela Dawe. Most narrators think pitching their voice higher, or lower will establish character. What Dawe does is genius, an inferior narrator would have seen me abandon Finlay et. al. She creates a unique voice for each character that  distinguishes them, imbues them with personality. A listener gets to know character through her reading. Her pacing is perfection; her timbre, even and smooth. More Dawe, please.

Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun, to quote Miss Austen, offers “tolerable comfort,” Mansfield Park, but Ms Dawe, well, she “has bewitched me,” Pride and Prejudice.

Elle Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun is produced by Macmillan Audio. It was released on January 31st. I received an audio file from Macmillan Audio, via Netgalley, for the purpose of writing this review, which did not affect my opinion.

4 thoughts on “Audio-Book Review: Elle Cosimano’s FINLAY DONOVAN JUMPS THE GUN

  1. Your narrator information is so good. I have now bookmarked her name. I barely listen to fiction audiobooks as the narrators often annoy me and I struggle to engage with books which I can tell I would normally like.


    1. Oh, I’m awfully glad. I find most narrators are bland, or they’re trying too hard and NOTHING is worse than an emoting narrator reading a romance novel love scene. It’s totally ugh. I have gone through another two awful narrators, but Dawe is great, as was the Oz dude who read Harper’s Exiles.

      To clear my ears of dross, I am listening to a master of narration, Juliet Stevenson reading Jane Eyre. It doesn’t get better than this!

      P. S. I miss you. I’m mired in so much I’d love to talk about. How does your week look next week??? Or the week after? Let me know via email…! 🙂


      1. LOL – “emoting narrators” are so annoying. Especially when with romance fiction they get all breathless and whispery. Ugh! As for Juliet Stevenson – she is amazing! Her narration of Virginia Woolf’s A Woman’s Room is divine.

        And I miss you too! I will email you soon!


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