The Finishing School
Author: Michele Martinez
Published: January 30, 2007 by Harper
Main Character: Melanie Vargas
A late-night call from her boss summons federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas to a posh penthouse high above Park Avenue, where Whitney Seward and Brianna Meyers, students at an exclusive Manhattan private school, lie dead under suspicious circumstances. The deaths show all the telltale signs of being heroin overdoses, and Whitney’s influential stepfather James, a wealthy U.S. Senate candidate, demands that the feds track down the drug supplier fast and make an example of whoever it is. Melanie is given the order to do just that, but she quickly comes to believe that the girls’ deaths aren’t at all what they seem. The crime scene appears oddly staged, and Carmen Reyes, a studious classmate who was with the two dead girls earlier that night, has disappeared and may have been kidnapped. Suspects soon range from James Seward himself, to a charismatic and corrupt nightclub owner one of the girls knew, to the devious and scheming headmistress of the fancy girls’ school itself. Sexy FBI Agent Dan O’Reilly, who set Melanie’s pulse to racing in Most Wanted, is assigned to work the case alongside her. Dan is a third-generation cop with flawless instincts, and he immediately sees the case Melanie’s way. But things aren’t quite as smooth between them outside of work. Melanie -- on the verge of divorce from cheating husband Steve and struggling to raise baby daughter Maya alone -- has never recovered from her intense, almost-love-affair with Dan. She continues to struggle with a powerful attraction to him, and it eventually boils over. Meanwhile, the case hurtles forward with breathtaking speed. Breaking all the rules, Melanie goes undercover on a hunt that takes her into the deepest recesses of New York City’s lurid nightlife, then to the beaches and rain forests of Puerto Rico where she confronts not only grave danger but bitter truths from her own past. As The Finishing School races toward its stunning conclusion, Melanie finds herself in a struggle for her life with a clever and devious killer who has no intention of getting caught.