There are few authors who can weave nail-biting thrills, edge-of-your-seat drama, and romantic suspense as masterfully as Julie Garwood. Now she ratchets up the tension with Murder List, in which evil is on the hunt– and proves to be methodically organized and chillingly successful.
When Chicago detective Alec Buchanan is offered a prime position with the FBI, it is the perfect opportunity to leave the Windy City and follow in his brothers’ footsteps to the top echelons of law enforcement. But first he must complete one last assignment (and one that he is not too happy about): acting as a glorified bodyguard to hotel heiress Regan Hamilton Madison. The gorgeous exec has become entangled in some potentially deadly business. Someone has e-mailed her a graphic crime-scene photo–and the victim is no stranger.
Regan suspects that the trouble started when she agreed to help a journalist friend expose a shady self-help guru who preys on lonely, vulnerable women. In fact, the smooth-as-an-oil-slick Dr. Lawrence Shields may be responsible for the death of one of his devotees, which was ruled a suicide. Hoping to find some damning evidence, Regan attends a Shields seminar.
At the gathering, the doctor persuades his guests to partake in an innocent little “cleansing” exercise. He asks them to make a list of the people who have hurt or deceived them over the years, posing the question: Would your world be a better place if these people ceased to exist? Treating the exercise as a game, Regan plays along. After ten minutes, Shields instructs the participants to bring their sheets of paper to the fireplace and throw them into the flames. But Regan misses this part of the program when she exits the room to take a call–and barely escapes a menacing individual in the parking lot.
The experience is all but forgotten–until the first person on Regan’s list turns up dead. Shock turns to horror when other bodies from the list start to surface, as a harrowing tango of desire and death is set into motion. Now brutal murders seem to stalk her every move–and a growing attraction to Alec may compromise her safety, while stirring up tender emotions she thought she could no longer feel. Yet as the danger intensifies and a serial killer circles ever closer, Regan must discover who has turned her private revenge fantasies into grisly reality.
Regan Hamilton Madison is perfect. She's gorgeous ("a knockout with those full, luscious lips, to say nothing about the soft curves and long legs") but doesn't seem to be aware of it. She's rich (her family owns a hotel empire), but as head of her family's foundation, she spends her time giving money away. She even drives an old car. She doesn't have a boyfriend, but she does have a stalker, a psychopath bent on killing her. Enter Alec Buchanan, a smart detective who just happens to be perfect himself. He's gorgeous, "scruffy...sexy...he had impeccable manners, was obviously well-educated, and had a sense of humor." And he doesn't have a lover either. Regan draws up the titular murder list at the request of a guru/messiah who preys on "rich but lonely vulnerable women" (it's supposed to be cathartic) and who is the villain of a subplot. Although Regan is much too nice to want to murder anybody, she whimsically makes a list of the people she'd like to remove from her radar screen. When the people on Regan's list begin to die, though, the plot moves into high gear. By that time the reader is pages ahead of the clearly telegraphed plot developments, and even the real mysteries--why Regan? who is the psycho killer?--are solved by the reader long before the characters see the light. Bestseller Garwood (Killjoy, etc.) has her shining moments, but she serves up a predictable woman-in-peril suspense novel this time around.