cover image Murder List

Murder List

Julie Garwood. Ballantine, $25.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-345-45382-2

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, "" 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.