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Most Wanted

Most Wanted

3.8 11
by Michele Martinez, Anne Twomey (Read by)

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Melanie Vargas is a hardworking, hotshot federal prosecutor in New York City with a rising career in the law and a marriage that's on the rocks. Having caught her husband cheating, she's struggling to work things out, if only for her baby daughter's sake.

On an innocent evening stroll with her child, Melanie stumbles across a horrifying crime scene. A wealthy


Melanie Vargas is a hardworking, hotshot federal prosecutor in New York City with a rising career in the law and a marriage that's on the rocks. Having caught her husband cheating, she's struggling to work things out, if only for her baby daughter's sake.

On an innocent evening stroll with her child, Melanie stumbles across a horrifying crime scene. A wealthy former prosecutor from her office has been tortured and murdered, his luxurious town house set ablaze to destroy evidence of the crime. It's the kind of high-profile case that can make her name, and Melanie wants in. Needs in. But what she doesn't realize is that this opportunity will bring her dangerously close to a hard-to-resist FBI agent who may have secrets of his own — and even closer to a dark, sadistic killer who seems to be one step ahead of her every inch of the way.

The story of a young prosecutor's wild race against the clock to solve a brutal high-society murder before the killer finds her, Most Wanted is the stunning, sexy, and spellbinding debut novel that has already garnered rave reviews from today's masters of suspense.

Performed by Anne Twomey

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Martinez's effervescent debut thriller comes on like a series pilot, with a winning heroine and a large cast of colorful supporting characters drawn in broad strokes and primed for future episodes. Young, ambitious Melanie Vargas, a federal prosecutor in Manhattan gets the big break of her career almost by mistake: she's pushing her baby daughter through the nighttime streets when she walks into a crime scene. A fire has nearly destroyed the house of hotshot attorney Jed Benson, and cops are everywhere. Melanie fast-talks her way into the apartment where Benson has been brutally murdered. Melanie desperately wants the case-and she has to fight to get it-but she's hard-pressed to put in the hours it requires. She's booted out philandering husband Steve, a development she has yet to disclose to her nosy sister or her meddling mom, and she has a prima donna nanny. Martinez gives equal time to Melanie's balancing act and the complicated case, which begins as a probe of the C-Trout Gangsta Blades gang, but widens to include Benson's white-shoe law firm. Though still contemplating reconciliation with Steve, Melanie finds herself drawn to FBI agent Dan O'Reilly. The plot doesn't quite gel, but Martinez has crafted an enormously appealing heroine and a breezy, entertaining tale. Agent, Meg Ruley. (Mar.) Forecast: Can we say J. Lo vehicle? Blurbs from Evanovich, Johansen and others, plus Martinez's street cred (she was a New York City federal prosecutor herself), should give this debut a kick. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Despite an infant daughter and a straying husband, federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas lets herself get involved when a colleague is murdered. Debut novelist Martinez served as a prosecutor herself. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A young federal prosecutor snags the most important case of her career just as her personal life threatens to spin out of control. While walking in New York City with her baby daughter Maya, prosecutor Melanie Vargas happens upon a bustling crime scene that turns out to be the violent murder of high-profile attorney Jed Benson. Benson's troubled teenaged daughter Amanda was also left for dead by the killer(s), with several of her fingers cut off. Melanie schmoozes her way into the apartment and later aggressively lobbies her tough boss, Bernadette DeFelice, for the career-making case. Bernadette counters with criticism of Melanie's lighter schedule since Maya's birth. To get the case, Melanie commits to killer hours, not telling Bernadette (or anyone else) that husband Steve has recently moved out after a fight about his extramarital affair. Further complications ensue as Melanie grapples with the tyranny of Maya's nanny, mixed emotions about Steve (who'd like to reconcile), and a strong attraction to Dan O'Reilly, the hunky FBI agent assigned to the case. Benson's widow, Nell, tries hard to stop Melanie from talking to Amanda, whom she describes as fragile. Evidence points to the C-Trout Blades, a local gang heavily into the drug trade that was successfully prosecuted by Benson. Everyone seems to fear the Blades' leader Slice, reluctantly fingered for the murder by a witness named Rosario. Dan promises protection, but Slice gets to Rosario anyway. Slice's ex-girlfriend, a prostitute named Jasmine Cruz, suffers a similar violent death. In between episodes of the investigation, there's much girl talk twixt Melanie and sassy sister Linda, architect pal Sophie, et al. The more layers shepeels off the complex case, the less open-and-shut it seems, suspicion pointing not only at the Blades but also at Benson's legal colleagues. First-timer (and former federal prosecutor) Martinez stokes reader interest with a large, attractive cast, though she could use more subtlety in both writing and plotting. Agent: Meg Ruley/Jane Rotrosen Agency
USA Today
“Martinez’s debut novel is a breakout.”
John Lescroart
"Michele Martinez’s Most Wanted is taut and crisp, as well-crafted a mystery as you’ll read this year."
Tess Gerritsen
“Most Wanted is an utter page-turner.”
Iris Johansen
“The pages turn in a blur! Edgy and fresh.”
—John Lescroart
“Michele Martinez’s Most Wanted is taut and crisp, as well-crafted a mystery as you’ll read this year.”
--John Lescroart
“Michele Martinez’s Most Wanted is taut and crisp, as well-crafted a mystery as you’ll read this year.”
Janet Evanovich
“Lightning-paced and suspenseful, sexy and fun, brimming with unforgettable characters, Most Wanted is an absolute must read.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Abridged, 5 CDs, 6 hours
Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 5.84(h) x 0.78(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Most Wanted
A Novel of Suspense

Chapter One

Melanie Vargas would normally never have dreamed of pushing her baby stroller into the middle of a crime scene. Sure, she was a dedicated prosecutor who believed in locking up the bad guys, but she was also a fiercely protective mommy to her six-month-old daughter. Then again, these were not normal times. Things were out of control in Melanie's life, in a big way. Not to mention that little Maya had a will of her own. You could almost say that Maya engineered the whole thing. Something huge was happening outside their window, and Maya didn't want to miss it any more than Melanie did. That chiquitita had law enforcement in her blood.

They'd been home in their apartment at ten o'clock on a steamy Monday night. Maya was screaming her lungs out, face bright red, as Melanie walked her up and down, danced with her, jiggled her around. Anything and everything to get her to sleep, but nothing was working.

Then, in a split second of silence while Maya drew a breath, Melanie heard the sirens. Not just a few sirens either, but the separate and distinct shrieks of police cruisers, ambulances, and fire trucks. A big response. She'd been a prosecutor long enough to know the difference between those sounds and know what they meant. A ruckus like that in a tranquil, fancy neighborhood like this? Highly unusual -- and serious. Someone else had worse problems than she did tonight.

It took an eternity for Maya to suck that breath all the way in. But it came back out in one loud, piercing wail.

"Maya, listen," Melanie begged, moving frantically toward the window, trying to put a soothing sway in her step. "Do you hear that? Sirens. Sirens, oiga."

She turned Maya around to face the rectangle of window above the humming air conditioner, bouncing her up and down. For a blissful moment, the distraction worked. Maya quieted, her sodden brown eyes focusing on the hazy, shimmering air beyond the glass. Then a new bunch of police cruisers sped down Park Avenue. Their sirens blared, but you couldn't see them at all from this angle. Melanie craned her neck to catch a glimpse of the wide boulevard, over the tops of the low buildings on her side street. Too late. They were gone. Maya swung a pudgy fist toward the window and started to howl again. Frustrated, obviously.

"I know, I know, nena. The view is not what it should be." She pulled Maya close, resting her cheek on her daughter's silky raven hair, so like her own, trying to comfort her with caresses. No good. Maya struggled and fussed to get free.

"You're not ever going to sleep, are you?" Melanie said, looking into her daughter's face. "That's it, baby girl. We're going out."

She turned on her heel decisively and headed down the hall to Maya's room. Yanking the stroller from the closet with one hand, she settled Maya into it and buckled the safety strap. The bunny night-light on the dresser cast a warm glow on Maya's wet cheeks as Melanie pulled lacetrimmed ankle socks onto her tiny feet. The baby's sobs quickly faded to hiccups. No doubt about it, this little girl was happy to be going for a ride.

When they reached the lobby, though, Melanie's doorman had other ideas. Hector was Puerto Rican like her, and the slight lilt of a Spanish accent in his voice always reminded her of her father. The feeling was clearly mutual, since Hector fussed over Melanie like a protective papi who was convinced she couldn't take care of herself.

"Aw, no! Where you think you going? Something nasty happening out there. Sirens and everything."

"Hector, I'm a prosecutor. I can handle a few sirens." She stopped short of telling him that she liked the sirens. They were interesting. They drew her more than they scared her away.

"What about this little one? She don't want to go out!" Hector protested.

Maya leaned forward eagerly on her puffy, diapered bottom, grasping the toy bar strapped to the front of the stroller. She had completely stopped crying.

"Oh, yes, she does! ¡Claro! You should have heard her screaming five minutes ago. I'm going to walk her till she falls asleep."

"By yourself at this hour?"

Melanie shrugged. Hector studied her face.

"When Mr. Hanson coming home, hija? He on business still? 'Cause I ain't seen him around lately."

Steve Hanson was Melanie's husband. And no, he hadn't been around much lately, because Melanie had thrown his cheating butt out. She just hadn't brought herself to tell Hector yet. Or anyone else for that matter. Telling people would make it real, and she didn't want it to be real. The last few weeks were a bad dream she kept hoping she would wake up from.

The telephone at the doorman's station began to buzz.

"Answer your phone, Hector. And don't worry about us. We'll be back in ten minutes with this little girl fast asleep. Promise."

As Melanie exited the air-conditioned lobby, the heat and the racket from the sirens blasted her in the face. She drew a sharp breath and tasted something acrid. August in New York City was always unbearable, but this was different. The haziness smelled like smoke. She hesitated, looking down at Maya. Far from seeming troubled, her daughter gave a huge yawn and snuggled down into the stroller. That settled it. Melanie pointed the stroller south on Madison Avenue and headed in the direction of the flashing lights.

A few blocks ahead, people clustered in front of blue police barricades, rubbernecking wildly. The smoke in the air stung Melanie's eyes, but the crowds told her there was something worth seeing. She stopped momentarily to check Maya. Hah! Fast asleep already, black lashes resting against silken cheeks, a peaceful smile on her shell-pink lips. Melanie stroked her daughter's face. Amazing what an angel this one could be when she was quiet ...

Most Wanted
A Novel of Suspense
. Copyright © by Michele Martinez. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Iris Johansen
“The pages turn in a blur! Edgy and fresh.”
John Lescroart
“Michele Martinez’s Most Wanted is taut and crisp, as well-crafted a mystery as you’ll read this year.”
Tess Gerritsen
“Most Wanted is an utter page-turner.”

Meet the Author

Michele Martinez, a graduate of Harvard University and Stanford Law School, was a federal prosecutor in New York City for eight years. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two children.

Anne Twomey starred on Broadway in Nuts for which she received a Tony® nomination, and Orpheus Descending, and has appeared in numerous episodes on such television shows as Law & Order, L.A. Law, and Seinfeld.

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Most Wanted 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Amber1MA More than 1 year ago
I can't imagine 5 or even 4 stars! I'm halfway through and am struggling to finish it. If I had anything else to read, I'd certainly toss this one aside and just give up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dg rt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book, a lot of suspense that made you keep reading. The only parts that I did not like were when the author would switch to spanish a little and it was hard to understand if you were good at the language.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was wonderful. I could not put it down. The characters were believable and likable. The story kept moving along, never slowing down. I will read whatever this author writes. She is very good. If you don't read her books it will be your loss.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story with credible characters and an actual plot. I lost interest after the first third but kept reading in the hope it might actually get better - it didn't. I had high hopes when I read the author was a former prosecutor but I couldn't see any evidence of that in the story. Her main character, supposedly a crusading prosecutor is a total pushover whose inability to stand up for herself to her nanny, her boss, her husband is just plain frustrating. As for the support cast, the plausibility of any of them acting as they did - Bernadette being a ranting lunatic, who drinks for instance - is ridiculous and unprofessional and I can't see how they could possibly keep their jobs. I certainly won't be reading the next in the series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
MOST WANTED was recommended to me by a friend of mine, who loved it. The reviews have also been great. As an avid reader of mysteries and suspense novels, I had to check it out, especially since I'm always on the lookout for a great new series to get hooked on. And this one was the real thing -- a true winner. The story involves a New York City prosecutor who, while dealing with her own turbulent personal life, catches the high-profile case of a lifetime. The setting ranges from glamorous Park Avenue to the down-and-dirty streets of New York, and the cast of characters (as other reviews have noted) is fascinating and memorable. A wonderful mix of hard-core suspense and personal drama, MOST WANTED is not to be missed. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't think this book was suspensful at all. I was bored half way through but decided to finish it. I will not be reading her future books if she does write any.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I couldnt put it down. Excellent plot with all kinds of twists. It really kept you on the edge. I only wish Michele Martinez had written more like it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Debut author Michele Martinez wisely drew on what she knew in crafting her novel, and it is evident in authenticity of detail and setting. Ms. Martinez lives with her family in New York City - 'Most Wanted' is set in NY. She worked for eight years as a federal prosecutor - heroine Melanie Vargas is a federal prosecutor. Then, we assume, fiction takes over. We meet Melanie who is valiantly trying to hold things together. She recently discovered that her husband has been cheating on her, but she'd like to make the marriage work if only for the sake of their not yet year old daughter. Melanie needs a break, and she gets one although it's not what most of us would be looking for. As she gets a bit of fresh air with her daughter she stumbles upon a horrific crime scene.. Jed Benson, a wealthy New Yorker and former prosecutor from her office, is the victim. He's been tortured, murdered, and his upscale digs set afire in an effort to distract. Nothing takes Melanie's mind off the fact that she wants this case. What's a story about an attractive young woman who's been done wrong without another romantic interest? This comes in the exceptionally well toned body of FBI agent Dan O'Reilly. What also comes is danger in the form of a psychopathic killer. Voice performer Anne Twomey is remembered for her multitude of TV appearances and Tony nomination. She gives a highly charged reading as Melanie does her utmost to solve the case and stay alive. - Gail Cooke
harstan More than 1 year ago
When Melanie Vargas had proof that her husband cheated on her she threw him out. One night, her six-month old baby is crying and won¿t go to sleep, so she takes the infant out in her stroller walking in the direction of police sirens. The home of former U.S. Prosecutor Jed Benson is in flames and his body is all chopped up and riddled with dog bites. Melanie, a federal prosecutor, wants to take part in this high profile case so she convinces the policemen that her boss sent her there as the attorney who will try the case when they catch a suspect. Her boss admires her chutzpah and gives her the case. She is teamed up with FBI agent Dan O¿Reilly; sparks fly from the moment they meet. They team up very well but the investigation goes badly from the start. Witnesses are murdered and evidence disappears. Melanie believe someone is leaking information to the killer, perhaps even Dan and when her boss tries to throw her off the case, she makes a final attempt to find the killer and that makes her the potential next victim. Fans of Iris Johansen, Christine McGuire and Elizabeth Lowell will love this suspense thriller with just the right amount of romance. The heroine is smart and ambitious but so vulnerable that readers will take her into their hearts. Besides seeking the perpetrator, the heroine has to figure out who is dirty in her office or amongst the cops. Surprisingly enough, one of the support cast, Melanie¿s boss will elicit reader sympathy because she is looking for love with the wrong man. Hopefully MOST WANTED is the beginning of a new series. Harriet Klausner