Review

Most Wanted: A Novel of Suspense

by Michele Martinez

Melanie Vargas is an assistant U.S. District Attorney in New
York City. Her professional star is on the rise even as her
personal life descends into chaos. She is busy juggling legal and
familial duties, complicated by the fact that she and her husband
are separated. Vargas gets the assignment of a lifetime when she
steps into a murder investigation in which the victim is a
prominent New York attorney. Vargas aggressively pursues leads on
her own but is hampered by office politics (an aside, here ---
Martinez's description of office politics, particularly on the
Federal level, is so dead-on accurate that underlined passages of
MOST WANTED are without question being clandestinely circulated
around more than one water cooler in Manhattan).

Fortunately, Vargas is paired up with Dan O'Reilly, a streetwise
FBI agent whose extensive contacts stretch up and down both sides
of the street. O'Reilly makes Vargas's professional duties much
easier but complicates her personal life. The mutual attraction is
undeniable. Vargas, however, continues to have feelings for her
husband, notwithstanding the infidelity that led to their
separation. Martinez does a nice job of balancing the different
stressors in Vargas's life so that the narrative never seems too
overbalanced one way or the other. Just as MOST WANTED seems to
lurch with both feet into soap opera territory, Martinez shifts the
focus back to the gritty reality of the investigation.

And what an investigation it is. Vargas, with yeoman's assistance
from O'Reilly, continues kicking over rocks and soon uncovers a
scandal that reaches into the office of the U.S. Attorney itself.
Vargas doesn't realize, however, that her efforts have attracted
the attention of the wrong people. As a result she has placed not
only herself but also those she loves the most in terrible
danger.

While Vargas's professional life is a bit more exciting than your
average assistant U.S. attorney, Martinez infuses her criminals,
and the damage they wrought, with a gritty realism that isn't soon
forgotten. Vargas's personal life rings true, and the problems she
faces as a working parent will undoubtedly evoke sympathetic
head-nods from many readers, particularly those of the female
persuasion.

There are just enough unresolved issues revolving around Vargas at
the conclusion of MOST WANTED to have readers highly anticipating
the next book in the series. Martinez's considerable storytelling
abilities make such a book one to be welcomed. It should be noted
that Martinez fought the good fight for several years, working as
an assistant U.S. Attorney in New York City. Some of her
experiences, anecdotal or otherwise, undoubtedly contributed to
MOST WANTED, making it an excellent debut novel. Recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 7, 2011

Most Wanted: A Novel of Suspense
by Michele Martinez

  • Publication Date: November 29, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch
  • ISBN-10: 0060723998
  • ISBN-13: 9780060723996