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.
FINAL RATING: 2 Stars
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