Reading Group Guide
1. At the beginning of Most Wanted, Melanie Vargas “goes for it” and gets herself assigned to the Jed Benson murder investigation despite the complicated state of her personal life. How did you react to her decision? Did you understand it? Did it influence your views of Melanie’s character in a positive or negative way?
2. Throughout Most Wanted, Melanie struggles to balance her demanding career with her responsibilities to her baby daughter Maya. What outside factors constrain her actions as she tries to find the right balance? Do her decisions and her actions comport with your own views on the relative importance of career vs. motherhood?
3. Certain of Melanie’s difficult childhood experiences are recounted in flashback throughout Most Wanted. What, if anything, did this window into Melanie’s childhood add to your understanding of her character? In what ways did you view her childhood experiences as influencing her actions in Most Wanted?
4. After Dan tells her about growing up in a cop family, Melanie reflects that she’d “come up so far in the world that she didn’t fit in her own life.” How does Melanie’s social, economic and ethnic background affect her? How does it compare to that of Dan? Of Steve? How does it play into her relationships with the two men in her life?
5. What role does Melanie’s ethnic background play in her work? Does it advantage her, disadvantage her or both? Does Melanie face stereotyping in the workplace or not? Why does she react negatively when Bernadette assigns her to the Benson case in part because of her ethnic background? Do you agree that Melanie should have felt uncomfortable about that? Why or why not?
6. Discuss Melanie’s relationship with her boss, Bernadette DeFelice. Do Melanie and Bernadette have similar values? What about their ethics as prosecutors? How do they balance career and personal issues? What do you admire or dislike about Bernadette? Do you feel that Bernadette treats Melanie fairly?
7. Melanie’s views on whether to stay in her marriage are obviously influenced by her father’s abandonment of her family when she was younger. Do you think she is too influenced by this factor? Do you believe that Steve is truly contrite about his infidelity? Should Melanie give him another chance? How does her attraction to Dan O’Reilly influence her feelings about her marriage?
8. Which guy would you like to see Melanie end up with and why?
9. Throughout Most Wanted, there are a number of characters who might possibly be responsible for, or involved in, Jed Benson’s murder, including Slice, Rommie Ramirez, Nell Benson, Sarah van der Vere, Dolan Reed and even Dan O’Reilly. Which of these characters did you suspect? Which characters came across as the most evil? How or why were appearances deceiving? Which “bad” characters did you have the greatest degree of sympathy for and why? Did you feel these characters got justice?
10. At the end of Most Wanted, Melanie finds herself in a situation where she herself must decide whether to resort to violence. What did you think of her actions in the climactic scenes? If you found yourself in a similar situation, do you think you would you pull the trigger?