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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Murder List

The Murder List

ISBN: 978-1250197214

Publisher: Forge Books

Publication Date: 8/20/2019

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars + Q&A Interview Aug 20

Top Books of 2019 Who is on THE MURDER LIST? Law student Rachel North will tell you, without hesitation, what she knows to be true. She’s smart, she’s a hard worker, she does the right things. She’s successfully married to a faithful and devoted husband, a lion of Boston’s defense bar. She's a rising-star intern in the prosecutor's office.

Problem is—she’s wrong. And if she takes one false step in this cat-and-mouse game, the battle for justice will become a battle for survival.

(Who is the woman on the cover? She will change everyone's lives.)

The Murder List is a new standalone suspense novel in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and B. A. Paris from award-winning author and reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan.

The Murder List


Now a CNN Ultimate Summer Read!

CrimeReads Most Anticipated Summer Book of 2019!

"This masterly plotted legal thriller with a twisted ending offers a riveting, character-driven story. The Murder guilty of inciting shock and amazement at the author's skill. VERDICT: A must-read for fans of legal thrillers." —Library Journal *Starred Review*

"A cracker of a read --her best yet!"

— B.A. Paris, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

"An exhilarating thrill ride that keeps you turning pages! Just when you think you have it figured out, Ryan deftly pulls the wool over your eyes and delivers a denouement as shocking as it is satisfying."

— Liv Constantine bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Last Time I Saw You

"Twisty, complex, dishy suspense. Unfailingly entertaining." —William Landay, New York Times Bestselling author of Defending Jacob

"Utterly absorbing! Like a nesting doll, The Murder List contains secrets within secrets and twists within twists. Ryan is a master working at the top of her game."

— Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Time I Lied

"Deftly mining the gray area between right and wrong, erroneous and inevitable, innocent and guilty, The Murder List is twisty, unpredictable, and utterly irresistible: Suspense at its finest."

—Jessica Strawser, author of Not That I Could Tell

"In this riveting novel of suspense by the absolute master of the genre, Ryan conjures the consummate twisty thriller: it's husband and wife, ego and id, cat and mouse."

—Erica Ferencik, author of The Jungle

"Ryan shows herself a master of suspense as she sets stories within stories, leaving the reader turning pages long into the night until the final, shocking trap is sprung. Put The Murder List at the top of your list of must-reads."

Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times Bestselling author of Through the Evil Days

The Murder List


My Review

Bestselling author and one of my favorites, Hank Phillippi Ryan wowed us last year with TRUST ME Top books of 2018 and returns with her best yet—THE MURDER LIST. Top books of 2019.

Ryan is at the "Top of her game!"

An electrifying plot-driven standalone legal thriller which will leave you glued to the pages in this high stakes cat-and-mouse game of manipulation. A wild roller coaster game of obsession, power, and revenge. The ending is jaw dropping good. 😜

It takes more than two to tango. There is a triangle (we are not talking love triangle). In addition to the cat-and-the-mouse, there is also cheese (the power). You will be guessing until the final reveal, which one is which. Which character is manipulating the other?

Which side are you on?

Meet the characters: • Martha Gardiner - Assistant District Attorney. Highly intelligent. • Jack Kirkland – Best defense attorney in Boston (married to Rachel) • Rachel North - Age 36. Law Student Harvard. Married to Jack. Goal: To be a partner: Kirkland and North law firm, once she passes the bar. Jack and Rachel have been married for six years. Jack is a lawyer, and he likes to win. Rachel is a law student but has a plan. Her plan is ultimately to be a partner in Jack’s law firm. To do so, she wants to do a summer internship in the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office. After all, it is only for three months. She can do it.

However, to do so, that would be working with Jack’s enemy, ADA Martha Gardiner. Martha would be her new boss. Jack refers to her as “Satan in pearls”. A predator. She is the one prosecutor who can beat Jack. There may be some friction on the home front.

Rachel wants to get on the murder list. She wants them to be a team. She has heard all the stories from Jack about Martha’s disturbingly unfair and manipulative tactics. Rachel thinks this is the perfect strategy.

Her plan: She will work with Martha, learn her methods and techniques. She could scope out the competition from the inside. The more she understands her prosecution, the more she can use to structure their defense. She thinks it is brilliant. She then will be back with Jack and working against Martha, right?

Jack does not agree. Very risky. He thinks Martha would be using Rachel. Jack cares about justice, defending his clients, even the ones he knows are guilty. He almost always wins—even if a murderer walks free.

There was a murder-list case. Jack was appointed as Marcus Dorn’s attorney. The key witness vanished. Marcus Dorn is now behind bars after being charged with a gruesome murder of a couple after breaking into their high-priced condo. He was the security guard.

Now Rachel is training to understand two sides. Defense and prosecution. “The devil you know.” Law school is about the what if. Just like her life.

Martha Gardiner holds the key to Rachel’s future. Martha is from Old New England money. She is in it for the glory and power. For the win. She has her eye on the attorney general’s office.

Who will be collateral damage?

“How long does it take to ruin everything? One moment. One wrong decision. One mistake. One unfortunate assumption or ill-chosen word or even a misunderstood gift. The dominoes fall, never to be righted.”

Will Rachel be the manipulative opportunist or the advantaged insider?

The Murder List

What about Jack? His motives? Is Jack jealous? What about Martha? Did Martha choose Rachel to blackball Jack from getting murder-list cases? Dealing with the devil has its pitfalls. There are two sides, and Rachel is in the middle, or is she?

From a case six years earlier before Rachel and Jack were married. Rachel worked for Senate President Thomas Ames Rafferty Beacon Hill. A necklace. A murder.

"Politics—like life—is driven by the balance of power."

The murder list—the list of accused killers who cases, and lives, he’s responsible for. That is how Jack got assigned to represent now-convicted slasher, Marcus Simmons Dorn. High-paying cases. This is how Jack and Rachel met.

Let the games begin. You will doubt every character in this power play. Who will win in the end? Who will outsmart the other?

ENTHRALLING! Hank Phillippi Ryan is in her element. 💕 Polished craftsmanship, brilliantly written, from the Boston setting to each precise movement of each character. 🎬 Movie-worthy! From the intricate legal proceedings, courtroom scenes, politics, character development, and crime scenes.

With the Author’s expertise in the field as an investigative reporter, she carefully constructs every scene and multiple POV and timelines. Ryan maneuvers past and present tense with a perfect pace unfolding layer by layer, leaving you looking over your shoulder. INTENSE!

A triangle on steroids with razor sharp dialogue. Nothing is as it appears. You will be turning the pages into the wee hours of the morning to see how this psychological, legal thriller will end. Filled with shocking twists and turns that will keep you on your toes until the very last page. BTW: A KILLER ENDING 😜

Reminds me of the old book, "Who Moved my Cheese?" They all want cheese (power) and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. A maze, but this time there are three players and someone will lose.

If THE MURDER LIST does not hit the New York Times Bestseller list, I will be shocked! Move this one to the top of your list. For legal thriller fans of John Lescroart, Michael Connelly, Lisa Scottoline and Scott Turow. Highly recommend!

Look for my Elevator Q&A with the Author coming Aug 20, 2019, and a book giveaway contest! Celebrate the one year anniversary edition of the Elevator Ride with Author.

A special thank you to Forge Books and Netgalley for an advanced reading copy.

View my Interview with the Author Trust Me 8/2019

The Murder List Interview

Q&A with Hank Phillippi Ryan

Learn the inspiration behind the book, plus fun facts about the author!

Book Giveaway Contest


About the Author

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston's WHDH-TV. She's won 36 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. The nationally bestselling author of 11 mysteries, Ryan's also an award-winner in her second profession—with five Agathas, three Anthonys, two Macavitys, the Daphne, and for The Other Woman, the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. Critics call her "a master of suspense" and "a superb and gifted storyteller" and she is the only author to have won the Agatha in four different categories: Best First, Best Novel, Best Short Story and Best Non-Fiction. Her novels have been named Library Journal's Best of 2014, 2015 and 2016. Her highly-acclaimed first standalone psychological suspense, Trust Me, is an Agatha Nominee and was also named a Best Thriller by New York Post, BOOK BUB, Real Simple Magazine, CrimeReads and Criminal Element. Hank's newest book is The Murder List. NYT bestseller Liv Constantine calls it "an exhilarating thrill ride," A.J. Finn says, "exciting, explosive, relentless," B.A. Paris says it's "her best yet," and Library Journal starred review says, "Masterly plotted—with a twisted ending—a riveting, character-driven story."

Hank is a founder of MWA University and past president of National Sisters in Crime. Visit Hank online at, on Twitter @HankPRyan, on Instagram @hankpryan and Facebook at HankPhillippiRyanAuthor. Read More






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