cover image The Finishing School

The Finishing School

Michele Martinez, . . Morrow, $23.95 (387pp) ISBN 978-0-06-072400-9

At the start of Martinez's gripping second thriller (after 2005's Most Wanted ), New York federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas is summoned at two in the morning a week before Christmas to a sadly bizarre death scene on Park Avenue. The teenage stepdaughter of Wall Street mogul and would-be U.S. senator James Seward has died of a heroin overdose, along with a fellow student at a posh East Side girls' school. Melanie soon finds herself up to her neck in politics: Seward's first call on discovering the bodies is to the police commissioner, not 911, and the agent in charge of the case is from the Elite Narcotics Task Force, which her boss is trying to impress. As the various agencies involved fight for turf and power, it's largely up to Melanie to find out what really happened to the two dead girls. The author draws from her own background as a lawyer and special prosecutor with years of experience in drug cases to raise this well above the common run of suspense novels. Agent, Meg Ruley. 12-city author tour. (Jan.)