Martinez, Michele 1962–
Martinez, Michele 1962–
PERSONAL: Born 1962, daughter of a prison-system education program director and a secretary; married; children: two boys. Education: Attended Harvard University and Stanford Law School.
CAREER: Writer and lawyer. Eastern District of New York, assistant U.S. attorney, c. 1993–2001. Previously worked for a law firm in New York, NY.
Most Wanted, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.
The Finishing School, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: A former federal prosecutor in New York City, Michele Martinez used her experience prosecuting big-time drug dealers and other criminals to break into writing. She got the idea for the opening scene in her first book, Most Wanted, from a dream about a fire and a lawyer leading a double life. In an interview posted on her home page, Martinez noted: "That dream answered a question I'd been asking myself for years: how could I put the vast storehouse of insider knowledge about violent crime, narcotics and law enforcement that was kicking around inside my head to decent use if I left my job? Once I had the first scene, the rest of the book just flowed—although with many drafts, rewrites, and revisions."
Most Wanted tells the story of federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas, who becomes involved in the case of a wealthy attorney who is brutally murdered. The investigators believe that the lawyer was murdered in retaliation for his role in breaking up a major drug ring when he was a prosecutor, but Melanie sees more to the case and becomes convinced that there may be other reasons as well. Her suspicions seem correct when potential witnesses turn up dead and evidence concerning the case begins to vanish. Melanie, a single parent who threw out her husband after she found out he was cheating on her, soon begins to feel the strain of the long hours the case requires, resulting in a schedule that keeps her from her young daughter. Furthermore, she raises the ire of her boss because of her doggedness in saying that the investigation needs to be broader and may involve the dead man's private law firm. Crooked cops and prosecutors may also be involved, and Melanie is soon marked as a potential target herself. When she is teamed up with FBI agent Dan O'Reilly for the case, the two find that there is more between them than a business relationship, even though Melanie still has feelings for her husband.
In a review of Most Wanted, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "Martinez's effervescent debut thriller comes on like a series pilot, with a winning heroine and a large cast of colorful supporting characters." Jenny McLarin, writing in Booklist, noted that "the characters … will hold most readers' interest." In a review for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Oline H. Cogdill commented that the book "delivers an insightful look into the inner working of the legal system." Codgill added that Martinez "delivers a challenging story that skillfully melds a solid plot with fully fleshed-out characters." Rebecca House Stankowski commended the author in Library Journal for "bringing real-life detail and emotion to this thriller." Writing on the Bookreporter.com, Joe Hartlaub noted: "There are just enough unresolved issues revolving around Vargas at the conclusion of Most Wanted to have readers highly anticipating the next book in the series. Martinez's considerable storytelling abilities make such a book one to be welcomed."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2005, Jenny McLarin, review of Most Wanted, p. 946.
Cosmopolitan, March, 2005, review of Most Wanted, p. 256.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2005, review of Most Wanted, p. 13.
Library Journal, February 15, 2005, Rebecca House Stankowski, review of Most Wanted, p. 119.
MBR Bookwatch, March, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Most Wanted.
Publishers Weekly, January 24, 2005, review of Most Wanted, p. 219.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, February 9, 2005, review of Most Wanted.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (July 13, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Most Wanted.
Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (February 18, 2005), Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub, and Wiley Saichek, interview with Martinez; (July 13, 2005) Joe Hartlaub, review of Most Wanted.
Michele Martinez Home Page, http://www.michelemartinez.com (July 13, 2005).
Mystery Reader, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (July 13, 2005), Susan Scribner, review of Most Wanted.