Book Review: Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

81q4j0cn7hl What if your sperm donor had done something criminal? That’s the plot of Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline.

Marcus and Christine are finally expecting a baby. After a year of trying to conceive and a diagnosis of azoospermia (meaning Marcus produces no sperm), they decided to select a donor from a reputable sperm bank.

But things take a turn when, while celebrating her pregnancy with her friends from work, she sees a CNN report about the capture of The Nurse Murderer. Christine thinks she recognizes him as their donor.

Desperate for answers, Christine starts investigating the man she saw on CNN, and tries to answer the one question on everyone’s mind: is she carrying a serial killer’s child?

I started this on a Sunday and I read almost a quarter of it in a single night. So I thought, “Okay, this is holding my interest, it will be an easy read.” Almost immediately after I thought that, the plot fizzled and I got a lot less interested in the stakes.

When I thought about it later, my initial reading binge was odd because in the first hundred pages, not a lot happens. They discover they may have used serial killer sperm, then they talk about it, and they discuss it again, they go over the video, and then they call a friend. Then they call their doctor, and the sperm donor.

And all of this goes just how you think it will. When I realized it, I sat there and said: “What did I just read?”

At the discussions didn’t sound cumbersome, because honestly, I can see myself doing that in Christine’s situation. If I thought I just saw the possible “father” of my child get arrested for killing nurses, I would be a little freaked out. I’d wish that two of the most important people in my life could comfort me and tell me that I’m just seeing things.

Shortly after the book gets to the heart of things, everything sort of fizzles out. Nothing really happens. Everything that should be interesting is tangental to Christine and Marcus and how it affects them personally.

If I squint, I can see how Christine’s character is compelling, but none of that works, when there is chapter after chapter of discussion and talk about hypotheticals, and none of the characters have the skills to do anything about it. Christine wants to know the truth, and while I found that interesting there was a lack of emotion that I felt keeps readers away from this deeply personal and very complex issue.

I also feel like this book could have really tapped into how this was affecting Marcus and Christine a little more. While this book eats plot, it doesn’t do anything to deepen our relationship to the characters. The narrator touches on some male ego and infertility issues, but it’s never discussed beyond clinical terms and surface mentions.

I find it similar to The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena in that way, which is a shame, because the book could have done so much with the subject of infertility. Infertility is an issue that couples have to deal with, and given that we meet them for the first time, having made their big decisions regarding this issue, it lacks the emotion involved with such a decision. Instead of emotion we get a strong sense of place, and info dump rundowns of legal procedures, but that’s it. We have conversation after conversation, and no one to really be invested in.

The mystery of “is this guy a serial killer” isn’t that interesting when you consider how things play out. By the last third of the book, I just wanted an answer for Christine, and then to have the characters move on with their lives.

One thing that I really think this book could have used is a bit more line editing. There were several chapters where I felt like the writing was clunky and repetitive, and it stuck with me. I feel like it’s something only I would notice, but I think several sections would have been much cleaner and more polished.


Most Wanted is now available wherever books are sold. You can find a copy here at Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your local independent bookstore

You can add the book to your Goodreads here





Published by Lauren Busser

Lauren Busser is a fiction writer and essayist. She is an associate editor at Tell-Tale TV, where she writes about all things tv. She has had fiction appear in five : 2 : one magazine’s #thesideshow and her nonfiction has appeared in Bitch Media and The Hartford Courant. You can find her talking about tv, film, and knitting on Twitter @LaurenBusser.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

  1. Hallo, Hallo Lauren!

    Ooh, my! not good! I love how you talk about what is not working for you in a book – whether you held onto it (like you did in this one) or whether like me, you just drop-out of the story altogether but still give your reasons for what didn’t work for you in the plot, the pacing and the development (or lack of) characters. I was nodding in sync with you as I read this review – as there are some pretty cardinal mistakes threading through your review on behalf of the story – mistakes, I admit, I’ve found in other stories – the key issue truly, is there was no reason to become emotionally invested and that’s a tough place to be as a reader!! It’s nearly the leading cause of why I ‘exit’ a novel – even without finishing it, because it’s what you said here: When I realized it, I sat there and said: “What did I just read?”

    If I have that internal convo with myself, it’s enough to simply blog and admit this isn’t working for me – my heart isn’t into the story and for whichever reason (which I do list/name/identity) I cannot continue reading this story.

    I give you credit! I’m not always able to ‘move past’ what is upsetting the apple cart for me in a story – I used to feel wayy guilty about it too (ie. to DNF a book) but then, I had a humbling convo with my parents – both of whom said “Are you going to love or like every story you read?” So simple to hear and yet, so hard to apply at times!

    I hear you on line edits – I notice those, plus the inked out words when the printer inks the words wrong or there are pacing issues or as you said the “repetitive” word or phrase issue – your so not alone! I do this as I read, too! This is one reason I can help writers as a betareader but sometimes when I’m reading — it’s like, head turn-off the alert system! Kind of how if you’ve researched film-making and you get to that stage where you can break down a film into it’s working script whilst your watching it first-run at the theater? Yeah. It hits you – you’ve crested the wave of knowledge in that field to where you have to separate a few things in order to move forward. I resolved how to ‘limit’ what I observe in films but with books? Not as much – I still take mental notes even if they aren’t enough to phase me out of the story-line, like you, I notice!

    In regards to infertility, I’ve read a few stories which have dealt with this (one of my favourites is Claiming Noah ) however, since I’m on the other side of the topic (ie. Adoption) I tend to shy away from reading these stories as I’m coming from a different POV (as I’ll be adopting in the future). Having said that – after reading Claiming Noah , I do agree – there is a need for pro-positive narratives which dissect the issue head-on and look at it from different angles and lead-in and out of a positively grounded story-line dealing with the hard issues at hand. Claiming Noah was a very emotional read and one that was very well written. I think it set the bar, personally. I also discuss this a bit on my #20BooksOfSummer List which is linked on a sticky note underneath my banner and search box.

    Sorry this one wasn’t your cuppa but for the points you’ve discussed, it had it’s fair share of flaws. One I noticed is actually the key dramatic arc of the story? Wasn’t the whole back-story on who the father could have been a bit over the top? I think it needed a better angle of entrance – something, to help offset some of the pacing and conflict issues.


    1. Thank you! I try to be as honest as possible with reviews, especially if I can pinpoint an issue. Sometimes it’s just topic, other times I loathe a character from the first page and can’t find anything redeeming about her.

      This book really wasn’t my cup of tea. I read it for book club, and I was determined to finish it. I really don’t think it was a good setup but it was an interesting premise. The thing is that we discussed Lisa Scottoline’s other work too…and she has written some really well received books! One woman read her book Killer Smile, which she said was really good, but also so different. It kind of made me wonder about the circumstances under which she wrote this one.

      Liked by 1 person

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