- Author: Lisa Scottoline
- Performed by Julia Whelan
- Released: April 2016 by Headline Review
- Category: Contemporary Fiction
Lisa Scottoline delivers another searing, powerful blockbuster novel that explores hot-button issues within the framework of an intricately plotted thriller. When a woman and her husband, desperate for a baby, find themselves unable to conceive, they decide to take further steps.
Christine and Marcus Nilsson are unable to begin the family they so desperately want due to Marcus’ infertility, so decide to use donor sperm. All is going well until, one day, Christine sees a news report on the TV showing the arrest of a suspected serial killer. The man closely resembles the photograph she has of her donor. Christine panics and the situation is further compounded by Marcus’ growing ‘all about me’ attitude. Cracks begin to appear in their relationship and Christine, despite Marcus’ objections, has to know the truth since Homestead, the sperm donor facility, will neither confirm or deny the identity of their donor.
Marcus wants to sue Homestead but Christine has other ideas and takes matters into her own hands. The lengths she goes to and the assumptions made is where the story, for me, becomes less than realistic.
“Marcus!” Christine couldn’t contain herself, then tried to dial it back. “I know you’re trying to help us, but you should’ve talked to me about this. You think you’re going to sue them into telling us?”
“Yes.” Marcus turned to Christine, his expression still cold. “If our donor really is a serial killer, then I think Homestead was negligent in their screening. So does Gary. We both think Homestead should do more psychological screening of their donors, instead of worrying whether they look like Bradley Cooper or Colin Farrell. Don’t you agree?”
There are genuine issues raised which are very thought provoking and I can see how a similar situation might occur. Not necessarily a serial killer, of course, but something possibly unwanted that only comes to light at a later date. It’s an interesting premise but, for me, the plot let the story down. I don’t know anything about sperm banks and can only assume Ms Scottoline’s research is accurate in that a donor is chosen by certain desired characteristics and a profile of the donor is given to the recipients, the amount of information dependent on whether the donor wishes to remain anonymous. The question of nature versus nurture is also brought into question – can a person be pre disposed to particular characteristics and behaviour or is the environment and the child’s personal experiences more the defining influence.
The insight into Christine and Marcus’ emotions and experiences came across as authentic initially, but the narrative became repetitive after a while and specific behaviour of the characters, particularly Christine as I mentioned, seems completely unrealistic. I appreciate infertility can be shattering to couples desperate for a family, the treatments traumatic and unpredictable and it’s difficult to know how one would react in the same situation. I’m not convinced, however, that Christine’s activities to uncover the truth are actually within the bounds of possibility.
The pace is quite slow and steady with an ending that was rather strange and completely random. The main characters aren’t particularly likeable, the best character for me was Griff, the blunt, gruff lawyer. I haven’t read this author before so can’t compare this with other books, but I might try another.
No complaints about the narration. Julia Whelan gives her usual top-notch performance.
About Lisa Scottoline
Lisa Scottoline is the New York Times bestselling author of seventeen novels including her most recent, THINK TWICE, and also writes a weekly column, called Chick Wit, for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa has won many honors and awards, notably the Edgar Award, given for excellence in crime fiction, and the Fun Fearless Female Award from Cosmopolitan Magazine. She also teaches a course she created, called Justice and Fiction at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and regularly does speaking engagements. There are twenty-five million copies of her books in print, and she is published in over thirty other countries.Lisa graduated magna cum laude in three years from the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.A. degree in English, and her concentration was Contemporary American Fiction, taught by Philip Roth and others. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She remains a lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area, where she lives with her array of disobedient pets.