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MOST WANTED by Lisa Scottoline: Book Review

What would you do if you thought that the man who had donated his sperm to you might be a serial killer?  It’s hard to imagine a worse scenario.

Christine and Marcus Nilsson have been trying to have a baby for several years, but without luck.  After various medical tests and procedures, they discover that Marcus does not have viable sperm, a blow to both of them but especially to Marcus and his self-esteem.  After much soul-searching the couple decide to use a donor from the highly reputable Homestead donor bank, a company endorsed by Christine’s doctor.

Then, on the afternoon of her going-away party from the Nutmeg Hill Elementary School where she has been teaching for eight years, Christine sees a CNN news video of a man who has just been arrested; to her he looks exactly like the photo of her sperm donor.  Marcus doesn’t agree and thinks she’s imagining the resemblance, but Christine can’t be reassured.  She watches the video over and over, obsessing over the man’s fine blond hair and round blue eyes that look exactly like those in the photo the donor was required to submit to Homestead.

When contacted, Homestead refuses to tell the couple whether their donor is the man who has been arrested.  It appears that a legally binding non-disclosure agreement was signed by the donor, and the company cannot disclose any additional information about him.  While Marcus gets angrier and angrier at what he sees as a coverup, Christine determines to discover on her own whether Zachary Jeffcoat is in fact her donor, a serial killer, or both.

The title, Most Wanted, is a clever double-play on words.  Its first meaning concerns the unborn baby, Christine and Marcus’ most wanted child.  The second meaning is the possibility that the man now being held for the murder of a nurse in Pennsylvania and suspected by authorities of being the murderer of two other nurses in two different states is most wanted for those deaths.

Emotions run deep throughout the novel.  Christine, who has wanted children as far back as she can remember, has gone from disappointment at not being pregnant to ecstasy at finally becoming pregnant to fear that the baby’s biological father is a criminal.  Marcus has gone from disappointment and shame at being unable to biologically father a child to anger at Christine’s doctor and the sperm bank and finally to anger at Christine.  What should have been the happiest time for them has now become the worst time, putting their marriage in danger from which it may not recover.

As always, Lisa Scottoline has written a novel that will challenge you to look beyond the excellent plot and focus on the issues that this couple is facing.  In spite of all the tests that Homestead has done, there is still the possibility that the mental instability of one of their donors has compromised the pregnancy of a recipient.  Donor banks are barely regulated by states or the federal government, and Most Wanted is a reminder that this may lead to horrific results.  And what happens when each parent has a different thought about what to do if, in fact, Zachary Jeffcoat turns out to be what they most fear?

You can read more about Lisa Scottoline at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.