Book Review - Jackie K Cooper
MOST WANTED by Lisa Scottoline
Leave it to Lisa Scottoline to come up with one of the most inventive plot lines I have come across lately. Her new novel MOST WANTED concerns a couple who desperately want to have a child. After many, many tests it is determined the husband has such a low sperm count they have zero chance of having a baby on their own. This leaves either adoption or a sperm donor. They opt for the sperm donor and are successful at getting pregnant.
That sounds like the basis for a happy, uplifting story, right? But Scottoline could never offer something so simple. She has to turn everything upside down by throwing in an additional twist. After the couple, Marcus and Christine, have settled into their lives as a pregnant couple, Christine sees a news flash on TV where a serial killer has been captured. Lo and behold the killer looks just like the couple's sperm donor, identified as #3319.
Could it be? They immediately contact their doctor and ask for the actual name of their donor. Due to privacy clauses in their contract this information can not be released. This enrages Marcus and dismays Christine. Marcus decides they should sue while Christine hatches her own plan to investigate Zachary Jeffcoat, the alleged serial killer, who is being held in a prison nearby.
This is where the novel should fall apart. C'mon, the pregnant woman as Nancy Drew. How hokey is that concept. But somehow in the skilled hands of Scottoline it all falls into place and the uplifting story about a couple dealing with a donor pregnancy becomes a murder mystery. Christine links up with an elderly attorney named Griff and begins an investigation into the murder for which Jeffcoat has been arrested.
Having a pregnant Christine going behind her husband's back and putting both her life and the life of her baby in jeopardy could be off putting to readers, and it certainly was to me - at first. Eventually however Christine's grit and determination won me over. I was right there with her cheering her on to solve the mystery and determine (1) if Jeffcoat was truly a psychopathic serial killer, and (2) if he was actually the donor for her child.
Scottoline has long been one of my favorite authors but this time I thought she had lost me. When I got to the "Nancy Drew" phase I was ready to set the book aside. Only my Scottoline loyalty made me read on, and I am so glad I did. She pulls the story together and makes it work, and only a truly talented writer could do this. She also uses her story to educate the reader in a million ways and is never preachy and/or boring with any of this additional information.
MOST WANTED is Scottoline at her best, once again. You will want to read this latest novel not only for its plot, but for its warmth and humane appeal. She deals with some serious subject matter but makes it easy to read and impossible not to like.
MOST WANTED is published by St. Martin's Press. It contains 448 pages and sells for $27.99.
Jackie K Cooper