Murder List -- Julie Garwood
Book 4 of Buchanan-Renard-McKenna series
The narration and the story telling always feel flighty and haphazard whenever I read one of Julie Garwood's Buchanan-Renard installments (recently known as the Buchanan-Renard-McKenna series). I never get a solid feel for who's perspective we're seeing certain scenes through because the POVs flip back and forth within sentences of each other so quickly that I get a little lost. But aside from that and some rather outdated ideals, I can't deny that each book in this series seems to get more and more enjoyable.
I will openly admit that even with some reserves going into each book, I ultimately end up enjoying the heck out of them. And Murder List was no different--I really ended up liking it a lot!
The Story in Brief:
Wanting to help expose a sleazy con artist for the lying scum that he is, Regan Madison joins her two best friends at a celebrity therapist's seminar to find evidence against him. During the conference, the room is tasked to create a list of names of people they believe the world would be a better place without. Regan plays along to keep in tune with her "undercover" role--she absently jots down a few names. Soon after a run-in with a mysterious, crazy man in the parking lot on that rainy night, one of the people Regan had named on her fake list which she had playfully titled "Murder List" is killed. Then the murderer contacts Regan claiming responsibility for the kill as well as sending her a copy of her "Murder List" with the name of the first victim crossed off.
Meanwhile, realizing the connection Regan may have to a maniac killer, her elder brother doesn't hesitate to demand protection detail. And so Regan is stuck with Alec Buchanan, a detective who has recently pissed off his commanding lieutenant and is delegated to bodyguard duty. As the criminal investigation moves forward, of course, romance ensues, even while Alec already has plans on leaving Chicago in the next three weeks.
This book almost reads like a contemporary romance if you discount the consistent and continued urgency of a killer hanging around in the background, biding his time and waiting to kill off the next person on Regan's list or killing Regan. A lot of the interaction is based around Regan and her friends or Regan and her brothers, and especially the budding romance between Regan and Alec. The actual murder investigation kind of feels like it takes place in the background of the relationship dynamics and the short self-revelation sequence that Regan goes through.
And so this book feels like it could have been a contemporary romance first, spring boarding off of a romantic suspense in the background.
Nonetheless, amidst the love story and the Regan story, the crime thriller is still there since Regan's life is established to be in some kind of danger, requiring her to have a bodyguard. The time frame of this book just kind of skips by, day-by-day anyway.
Very early on we see that Regan had been the killer's initial target, but conflicting circumstances in his head changes the course of his actions. There's no doubt that this crime thriller is dealing with a particularly disturbed individual as we DO see a few scenes from the killer's perspective, even if we don't know who the killer actually is. In this, I'm actually kind of glad that we don't spend too much time in the killer's psyche, but enough to know that there's really something terribly wrong with him and his twisted logic.
Anyway, as I had already stated, the books in this series become more enjoyable as each one goes by. And even if the content was extremely predictable and the romance was standard fare, I had a lot of fun reading the interaction and the dialogue between all the characters. Julie Garwood is very witty with a light dose of warm humor to get me smiling at all the right points.
Regan and Alec had a cute relationship with their witty and snarky banter. I still have my issues with Regan being too readily a doormat when it comes to her brothers though, and while she managed to settle some of the issues with them, I still don't feel like she came out too victorious in her stand for more independence from them and less interference in her life. The banter between her and her brothers was a little less fun to read.
On another hand, Regan's young assistant, Henry was so adorable it was hard not to fall for him. He was a delight to have present in the book and was probably a good percentage of my enjoyment.
Despite all the flaws and faults I usually find in these Buchanan-Renard books, I still can't help finding them extremely entertaining to read, and very easy to like.
This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):