Thursday, April 3, 2014

ARC Review: Notorious by Allison Brennan

Author: Allison Brennan
Series: Max Revere Novels (Book 1)
Publication: Minotaur Books (March 25, 2014)

Description: New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan introduces an irrepressible heroine in her pulse-pounding new thriller Notorious, which Lisa Gardner says is, "Guaranteed to keep you up late at night."

Maxine Revere has dedicated her life to investigating murders that the police have long since given up any hope of solving. A nationally renowned investigative reporter with her own TV show and a tough-as-nails reputation, Max tackles cold cases from across the country and every walk of life. But the one unsolved murder that still haunts her is a case from her own past.

When Max was a high school senior, one of her best friends was strangled and another, Kevin O’Neal, accused of the crime. To the disgrace of her wealthy family, Max stood by her friend, until she found out he lied about his alibi. Though his guilt was never proven, their relationship crumbled from the strain of too many secrets.

Now Max is home for Kevin’s funeral—after years of drug abuse, he committed suicide. She’s finally prepared to come to terms with the loss of his friendship, but she’s not prepared for Kevin’s sister to stubbornly insist that he didn’t kill himself. Or for an elderly couple to accost her at the airport, begging her to look into another murder at Max’s old high school. Max is more interested in the cold case at her alma mater than in digging around Kevin’s troubled life, but she agrees to do both. As Max uncovers dark secrets, she finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies that hit far too close to home. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that someone will do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.

My Thoughts: NOTORIOUS was an engaging and entertaining start to a new series. The main character is Maxine Revere who is independently wealthy and is the semi-black sheep of a prominent California family. She had a messed up childhood. Her mother was constantly on the move and dragged Max with her until she was 9. Then her mother dropped her off with her grandparents and disappeared. All Max had were some birthday cards which stopped arriving when she was sixteen and questions - why did her mother leave her? who was her father?

Max grew up with a close circle of friends including her cousin William who was more life a brother. Things fell apart when her good friend Lindy was strangled and her other good friend Kevin was accused of the crime. Max was the only one of her circle of friends who didn't believe that Kevin didn't do it. Trial ended without convicting Kevin - six jurors thought he was guilty and six did not. But when Max learned that Kevin had lied to her about his alibi, Max cut herself off from him. The one thing that Max wasn't able to tolerate in her life was lies.

Max left for school on the East Coast and became an investigative reporter. The death of her college roommate while on Spring break in Florida helped push Max in that direction. Her roommate's body was never found and the person accused of the crime was never convicted. Max spent a year trying to find out what happened to her roommate which led to her writing her first book about the case.

When this story begins, Max has a successful career and a television show which investigates cold cases. Max is determined to find the truth because she believes it is the only way that families can find peace. She is called back to California because Kevin has committed suicide. He could never get past being accused of killing Lindy and had turned to drugs and alcohol. He had also continued to try to find out who really killed Lindy.

In the airport, she is approached by two people who want her to investigate the death of their grandson. When Max finds out that he was killed on the grounds of her old high school, she agrees to look into the case a little.

It doesn't take long for Max to be deeply involved in both cases despite anonymous threats over the phone and threats from the detective who worked on Lindy's case and is sure that Kevin got away with murder. Max's investigation is complicated by all the intertwined relationships she has with those involved in Lindy's case.

I liked the mystery even though I didn't really bond with Max. She was very rigid in her stance on lying and she was rather reckless too. I did admire her focus and her determination to find the truth no matter who might get hurt along the way. I liked her relationship with her assistant David and her tentative new romance with the police detective working the case of the dead grandson - Nick Santini. However, given Max's stance on relationships, I don't hold out much hope for a lasting romance there.

I'll be eager to see where Allison Brennan takes Max next. I wonder how Max would be in a case that was not so personal to her. I can't wait to find out!

Audiobook fans can listen to an excerpt here:

Favorite Quote:
Max didn't like Gorman. One of Max's faults—if one listened to Ben—was the she formed knee-jerk opinions of people. Her opinions were quickly formed based on her experience coupled with the first impression package. Gorman's first impression package was: tough female detective, angry, competent, chip on her shoulder. From her attire Max suspected she was in debt—cheap shoes and clothes, but with a fondness for jewelry. The diamonds in her ears, for example, were real.
I got this ARC from Amazon Vine. You can buy your copy here.

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