Martinez, Michele 1962-
Martinez, Michele 1962-
Writer. During early career, worked for a law firm in New York, NY; Eastern District of New York, assistant U.S. attorney, c. 1993-2001.
"MELANIE VARGAS" SERIES; CRIME NOVELS
Most Wanted, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.
The Finishing School, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.
Cover-up, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.
Notorious, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2008.
A former federal prosecutor in New York City, Michele Martinez uses her experience prosecuting big-time drug dealers and other criminals for her fiction career. 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 than that. 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 cheating husband, soon begins to feel the strain of the long hours the case requires, which keeps her from spending time with 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, too. 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." Rebecca House Stankowski commended the author in Library Journal for "bringing real-life detail and emotion to this thriller." Writing for Book Reporter, 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."
Martinez has continued her series, following Most Wanted with The Finishing School. The story begins with the apparent overdose deaths of two wealthy New York teenage girls. Only later is it discovered that a third girl, a less affluent teen and the daughter of the building's superintendent, has been kidnapped. Vargas initially believes the third girl is the key to the murders. She sets out to discover the true situation, as well as to find the link to the expensive prep school that the teens attend. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews remarked: "This chick-lit thriller lacks finesse but never stops throwing colorful subplots at you and never lets up the pace." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the book "well above the common run of suspense novels."
Cover-up, the next Vargas novel, revolves around the rape and murder of television journalist Suzanne Shepard, whose body is discovered in Central Park. Vargas attends the crime scene with her FBI-agent boyfriend and somehow finds herself heading up the investigation. The mystery that follows sheds doubt on Vargas's lover and eventually puts her in danger before the case is finally wrapped up. Booklist reviewer David Pitt commented that "some readers might find the romance subplot more than a little clumsy" but praised the book's entertainment factor overall.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2005, Jenny McLarin, review of Most Wanted, p. 946; February 15, 2007, David Pitt, review of Cover-up, p. 41.
Cosmopolitan, March, 2005, review of Most Wanted, p. 256.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2005, review of Most Wanted, p. 13; October 15, 2005, review of The Finishing School, p. 1103.
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; September 12, 2005, review of The Finishing School, p. 37.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, February 9, 2005, review of Most Wanted.
All Readers,http://www.allreaders.com/ (July 13, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Most Wanted.
Book Reporter,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (February 18, 2005), Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub, and Wiley Saichek, interview with Michele 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.