Book Review: Cleaning Up Finn by Sarah M. Chen


Author: Sarah M. Chen

Publisher: All Due Respect

Release Date: May 2016


Phineas ‘Finn’ Roose may work as a restaurant manager, but he acts like a cut-price playboy, indulging his sleazy SoCal fantasies by exploiting the generosity of his wealthy best friend. Frantically backtracking from his attempted seduction of Ronnie, an underage girl he picked up at his restaurant, drunken Finn abandons her next to the marina – only for her to vanish without a trace. Ronnie’s anxious religious-minded parents head to town – private eye in tow – and Finn quickly becomes tangled in a web of his own lies. Sensing that the only way out of this mess is to clean up his act, Finn vows to track down the missing girl himself…

This debut novella from Sarah M. Chen is a sun-blurred, booze-soaked excursion into the grubby underbelly of a Californian beach town. For all his faults – and there are many – Finn is rendered likable enough to latch onto as he seeks to unravel Ronnie’s disappearance. The narrative takes on an enjoyably slippery quality as the book unfolds, and while it was tightly plotted for the most part, there was one ambiguous plot strand – involving a shadowy background character – that seemed to be left dangling, tantalisingly. It’s a minor quibble, however, and Cleaning Up Finn is a slick, mainstream thriller that deserves to tap into an appreciative audience.

Reviewed by Tom Leins


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