Title: Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 449 pages
Book Rating: C+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Donor 3319 Profile:
Tall. Blonde. Blue eyes.
Wanted for Serial Murder.
“Spellbinding. Another tour de force from Scottoline. It drew me in, in a single breath.” –Mary Kubica, bestselling author of The Good Girl
Christine Nilsson and her husband, Marcus, are desperate for a baby. Unable to conceive, they find themselves facing a difficult choice they had never anticipated. After many appointments with specialists, endless research, and countless conversations, they make the decision to use a donor.
Two months pass, and Christine is happily pregnant. But one day, she is shocked to see a young blond man on the TV news being arrested for a series of brutal murders—and the blond man bears an undeniable and uncanny resemblance to her donor.
Delving deeper to uncover the truth, Christine must confront a terrifying reality and face her worst fears. Riveting and fast-paced with the depth of emotionality that has garnered Lisa Scottoline legions of fans, Most Wanted poses an ethical and moral dilemma: What would you do if the biological father of your unborn child was a serial killer?
Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline is an intriguing mystery with a very unusual storyline. Moving at a brisk pace, readers will remain invested in the novel’s final outcome despite the fact that some aspects of the plot are fairly far-fetched.
After finally becoming pregnant via donor sperm, Christine and Marcus Nilsson are eagerly awaiting the upcoming birth of their baby. However, their joy turns to horror after catching a glimpse of suspected serial killer Zachary Jeffcoat. Christine is certain he is the donor whose sperm was used to impregnate her. While Marcus is not convinced Jeffcoat resembles their donor, he does want the sperm bank to either confirm or deny their suspicions. Running into legal roadblocks due to the donor’s confidentiality agreement, Marcus consults a malpractice attorney to force the issue. However, after learning the case might not be immediately resolved, Christine makes an impetuous decision to meet with Jeffcoat face to face and ask him if he is the donor. She then begins her own investigation into the murders in order to find out once and for all if the biological father of her unborn baby is a serial killer.
Christine is a very earnest and somewhat naive elementary school teacher turned sleuth. Her once stable marriage has become a little shaky after their infertility problems but she is thrilled her dream of having a baby is well within reach. Disconcerted by the realization the baby’s biological father could be a killer, she wants her suspicions either confirmed or denied but after her initial meeting with Jeffcoat, she becomes convinced he is innocent. Christine also feels an unexpected connection to him because of the baby and this causes some major friction between her and Marcus.
Marcus and Christine are at odds over the situation right from the start. Not totally convinced that Jeffcoat looks like the picture of their donor, he somewhat naively believes the sperm bank will confirm or deny their suspicions. Once they refuse, he resorts to legal action without Christine’s knowledge. Disagreeing over how to handle the situation, things go downhill fast by his unexpected reaction to what he thinks they should do if Jeffcoat is indeed their sperm donor. With the gulf between them widening, Marcus’s unresolved issues about their infertility problems leads to jealousy and Christine comes up with a somewhat harebrained idea about embarking on her own investigation.
Zachary is a very charming medical salesman who is travels frequently for his job. Like any good salesman, he easily reads people then manipulates them to his advantage. He has a reasonable explanation for the circumstances surrounding his arrest, but can his version of the events be believed? Christine’s gut instincts say yes, but she is swayed by some of the information she uncovers and she then wavers back and forth about Jeffcoat’s guilt or innocence.
At first firmly believing wholeheartedly in Zachary’s innocence, Christine volunteers to help his grumpy lawyer Griff build his defense for his client. Readers will be forced to suspend their disbelief as she visits the crime scene, views crime scene photos and questions witnesses. Her untrained eye spots evidence that seasoned detectives have managed to overlook and she grows more certain that Zachary is innocent until she catches him in a few lies. Her interview with his boss leaves her questioning her judgment of Jeffcoat and she starts to wonder if he is, in fact, guilty of the crimes. Dismayed and distracted by this newfound knowledge, Christine inadvertently puts herself and her unborn baby in harm’s way which leads to a pulse-pounding and dramatic conclusion.
Despite a few problems with the more unrealistic aspects of the storyline, Most Wanted is an interesting mystery that raises thought-provoking issues about sperm banks and lack of psychological testing for sperm donors. The characters are fairly well-developed although not all of them are particularly likable. Lisa Scottoline does a brilliant job keeping readers guessing the truth about Zachary Jeffcoat’s guilt or innocence but it is a jaw-dropping revelation late in the novel that will truly stun readers.
All in all, an imaginative mystery with an unusual storyline that I enjoyed and recommend to fans of the genre.