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Murder List: A Novel [Mass Market Paperback]

Julie Garwood
1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 1 2005
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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

JULIE GARWOOD is the author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Killjoy, Mercy, Heartbreaker, Ransom, and Come the Spring. There are more than thirty-two million copies of her books in print.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars murder list Aug. 3 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
i have given up reading anything by judy garwood anymore. the author
reads the best historial romances but the worst modern day mysteries.
i look forward to the next historial romances but will not buy
another mystery
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not her best Nov. 5 2004
By C. Bye
Format:Audio Cassette
am a huge Julie Garwood fan. I have all her books, and had to replace a few for I read them so much that they got worn. I can even tell you some of the small errors that the editors made. I was disappointed when she changed her writing style, but after reading her first contemporary novel, I was hooked again. This book will not we one that will be read alot, if again. If I didn't know better I would swear it wasn't a Julie Garwood book. To much like Mary Higgens Clark, who is a wonderful author, but not Julie Garwood. Her usual humorous and loveable characters were missing, as well as the passion between her characters. If I hadn't read all her books, and had started with this one, I probably would have enjoyed it more. Hope this isn't her newest style.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  177 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive book Oct. 9 2004
By Book Reader - Published on
Being a first time reader of Julie Garwood's books, I thought that this novel was both interesting and captivating, as well as exciting and romantic. The main character has a definite dramatic silly side to her, which most girls can relate to! Unlike many others reviewing this book, I haven't read Garwood's historical romances, so I am not sure how it compares to those. However, if one preferred historical romances, I can understand why they would give this book a poor review. It is exciting and modern and takes place in a very cosmopolitan setting. My preferred reading material is either murder mysteries or modern and light-hearted, bordering on funny, romances. This book did a great job fulfilling both my criteria for a good book and I would recommend it to anyone with similar interests. The characters have great, distinctive personalities, there are a lot of places where the killer could be hiding, the main character has an amusing family, and last but not least, the hero is enough to make a woman weak in the knees... at least if you have as active of an imagination as I do. I hope others have the pleasure of reading this book, and base its merit on what it is, not what the author's past books have been.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not historical but a great suspense! Sept. 2 2004
By Cheryl Lucas - Published on
I love Julie's historical romance and it took awhile before I adapted to her romantic suspense writing. I found 'Murder List' to be an enjoyable read and not 100% perdictable in the suspense areas. The friendships and characteristics of the characters where enjoyable and the dialog is always my favorite part of any book. It is fun to not have a perfect heroine but one who developes and grows throughout the book. If you like "Killjoy" by Garwood you should like this one!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neither the best nor the worst. March 24 2005
By Valerie Matteson - Published on
I enjoy reading Julie Garwood and enjoyed this book in spite of the lack of true mystery in one sense of the word. The reader knows who the sociopath is from the beginning. Regan and Alec make a good pair and the setup of her as a "crybaby" through the telling of Regan and her best friends, Cordie and Sophia, meeting in kindergarten to deal with a bully. I too had that nickname in elementary school and I think throwing up on a bully would have been a great thinig to have happened!! Her brothers though teens then did give her pretty good advice.

The trouble is that once she is an adult -- a rather naïve one at that -- her brothers are still trying to control her. When she is with her friends, Regan seems the most believable. I do not think she is a wimp, however, but gets her way through more subtle means.

The Murder List is a great idea and I don't want to spoil how that all comes about. The self-styled guru, Dr. Shields, is also a common type and I loved seeing what happens to him.

A fun but light read!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of the best Sept. 4 2004
By A. Williams - Published on
I am a huge JG fan, which is the main reason why I give this book 3 stars. I have read all of her books and could hardly wait to read this one but half way through the book I had to stop and ask myself "what is this book really about?". It wasn't a painful read but it just seemed so unfocused. Was it a love story between the 2 main characters?, was it a story about friends trying to expose a fraud?, was it a story about a serial killer?, was it story about family relationships? There were alot of story lines going on but they were not tied together very well. To top it off the brother whose action was the root of the main story line was not even developed in the book, only mentioned.

I am still a JG fan but I hope the next book will be back up to the 5 star standard.
28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Way Below Par For Julie Garwood! May 21 2005
By Jana L. Perskie - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Julie Garwood has long been one of my favorite romance authors, at least she was up until a few years ago. I love every single one of her historical romances, they're all keepers - but I have been consistently disappointed in her relatively recent venture into the contemporary romance thriller genre. I enjoy suspense thrillers by authors like Karen Robards, Tami Hoag, Suzanne Brockmann, Elizabeth Lowell, Linda Howard, etc.. However, this area is not Ms. Garwood's forte. Unfortunately, "The Murder List" is a dud, similar in nature to both "Heartbreaker" and "Mercy," but without their strong points.

Heiress and philanthropist Regan Hamilton Madison is persuaded by her best friends Sophie and Cordie to become involved in their amateur investigation of a con-man, who runs popular self-help seminars. The two are convinced he murdered a gullible milionairess for her money. The three women attend one of his receptions and participate in a "cleansing exercise" geared to rid them of their anger. Participants are asked to make a list of people they really don't like and wish would disappear - folks they wish they could murder. Unbelievable?! Regan is shocked but plays along. They are then asked to burn their lists, which is symbolically supposed to cleanse them of negative feelings. Unfortunately, Regan is unable to burn hers, because her cell phone rings and she walks outside to answer it. After the event, she leaves the conference center and is attacked by a strange man on the way to her car. She drops her phone, the intact list, and fortunately escapes with her life. Soon afterward, the first person on her list dies, an apparent suicide. Then another one has a fatal heart attack. When Regan goes to the police to report the attack, as well as her perceived connection to the murders/deaths, Detective Alec Buchanan is assigned to be her bodyguard.

Unfortunately, the plot contains little that is original, worthwhile, or interesting. The characters are cardboard caricatures. Not one of them is developed sufficiently to come across as believable. The heroine is just too naive - too cutesy, to be as intelligent and creative as the author would have us believe. Regan and her two friends are supposedly, experienced, responsible professional women, sophisticated adults. They act like adolescents with little savvy, scatterbrained versions of Nancy Drew. However, they are perfect physical specimens of femininity - gorgeous faces, figures, AND designer wardrobes. Men find them irresistible, but none have ever been in a successful relationship. Of course, the hero is handsome, sexy, intelligent, ambitious, loyal, tender but slightly macho...and single!!! Do you doubt? The villains are not particularly scary! And the dialogue, especially between girlfriends, is inane, to say the least.

As with literary fiction, I have high standards for the romance novels and beach books I choose to read. And why not? There's lots of compelling, well written escapist literature on the market, with new books appearing all the time. I look for storylines which are original and complex, with fresh, fully developed characters, and a taut narrative - lots of suspense too. "The Murder List" just doesn't make the grade. Again, I am not happy about writing this review, as Ms. Garwood has brought me many hours of reading pleasure. I hope she gets back in the swing soon.

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