Also by this author: Finlay Donovan Is Killing It: A Mystery, Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead (Finlay Donovan, #2)
Series: Finlay Donovan #3
Also in this series: Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead (Finlay Donovan, #2)
Published by Minotaur Books on January 31, 2023
Genres: Adult Fiction, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304 •Format: E-Book •Source: Overdrive
Author and single mom Finlay Donovan has been in messes before―after all, she's a pro at removing bloodstains for various unexpected reasons―but none quite like this. When Finlay and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they had "borrowed" in the process of saving the life of Finlay's ex-husband, the Russian mob did her a favor and bought the car for her. And now Finlay owes them.
Mob boss Feliks is still running the show from behind bars, and he has a task for Finlay: find and identify a contract killer before the cops do. The problem is, the killer might be an officer themself.
Luckily, hot cop Nick has just been tasked with starting 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 a tempting detective), Finlay and Vero use their time in police academy to sleuth out the real contract killer to free themselves from the mob's clutches―all the while dodging spies, confronting Vero's past, and juggling the daily trials of parenthood.
The Finlay Donovan series has been my first foray into the cozy mystery game, and while I haven’t read much else in the genre I can’t deny that I have a hilariously good time each time I pick up a new book in the series. Even in this third installment where I don’t feel like much happened to move the actual plot forward from where it landed at the end of book 2, Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun is probably my favorite installment yet!
Following the events of book 2, Finlay is tasked by a mob boss who’s currently imprisoned to find and kill an enemy of his (despite her best protests, folks still seem to think Finlay is a contract killer). While she’s in the midst of trying to ignore the pending wrath of the mob boss if she doesn’t comply with his request, Vero gets them deeper into hot water with her mysterious debts and there’s also a fancy car involved (although I wasn’t super invested in that so I can’t tell you more, lol). The solution is of course as ridiculous as the predicament- attend a week long police academy for civilians that Nick, Finlay’s cop sort-of-boyfriend, is hosting. Foisting the kids off on Steven (who definitely needs to contribute more to the coparenting!), Finlay and Vero head off to what is basically adult sleep away camp under the nose of local law enforcement while they try to deal with their illegal shennanigans.
As you can probably guess, chaos ensues. It’s so ridiculous the risks Finlay and Vero take, especially right under the noses of law enforcement at the camp, but it also wouldn’t be a Finlay Donovan book if there wasn’t an air of camp and ridiculousness. I loved seeing how even with their own mounting problems, Vero is still determined to win the week’s contest for best pairing and how the cops running the camp have running bets on how well they will do. It was a lot of fun watching them go through the different courses at the academy and pick up tips that actually helped them in their criminal dealings. The setting also introduced a lot of potential suspects for the person Finlay is supposed to be finding and taking care of for mob boss Feliks (since they think it’s a crooked cop) and so it had a sort of murder mystery game vibe, almost.
In some ways though, this book did feel like “filler.” But I think that’s why I liked it! The other books in the series have outlandish after outlandish scenario and while this book definitely was not realistic, it was fun to see more realistic, fun challenges they had to deal with in the context of the academy (obstacle courses, stealing the good food and coffee from the faculty room, ruining movie night, etc). I feel like I got to know the characters better and even saw some character development in Finlay’s ex-husband (who’s still a trash human but at least felt more fleshed out and less like a caricature). The end of the novel clearly sets up for at least another book, if not more. I’m honestly not mad about it- I’ve been enjoying my annual dose of Finlay and Vero’s ridiculousness!
Overall: If you like the series, this is a fun, filler novel to spend more time with the characters but without making huge strides with the plot. It’s actually my favorite in the series so far, and while outlandish, Vero and Finlay’s hijinks are a delight to read when I don’t want to take things too seriously.