Category Archives: Allison Brennan

Review: The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan

Title: The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A popular sorority girl. An unsolved murder. A campus podcast with chilling repercussions.

Lucas Vega is obsessed with the death of Candace Swain, who left a sorority party one night and never came back. Her body was found after two weeks, but the case has grown cold. Three years later while interning at the medical examiner’s, Lucas discovers new information, but the police are not interested.

Lucas knows he has several credible pieces of the puzzle. He just isn’t sure how they fit together. So he creates a podcast to revisit Candace’s last hours. Then he encourages listeners to crowdsource what they remember and invites guest lecturer Regan Merritt, a former US marshal, to come on and share her expertise.

New tips come in that convince Lucas and Regan they are onto something. Then shockingly one of the podcast callers turns up dead. Another hints at Candace’s secret life, a much darker picture than Lucas imagined—and one that implicates other sorority sisters. Regan uses her own resources to bolster their theory and learns that Lucas is hiding his own secret. The pressure is on to solve the murder, but first Lucas must come clean about his real motives in pursuing this podcast—before the killer silences him forever.


The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan is a brilliantly executed mystery from beginning to end.

Three years ago, sorority sister Candace Swain vanishes after a sorority party where she is seen arguing with a few of her friends. She then vanished without a trace and is later found murdered. Police quickly zero in on a suspect but no one has ever been arrested for the crime. Now a senior at the same university, criminology major Lucas Vega’s capstone project is a podcast of Candace’s murder. He is hoping his podcast will jog memories and new evidence will emerge. One of his guests is former US Marshall Regan Merritt whose assistance turns out to be invaluable to the podcast. When callers provide startling new information, will Regan and Vega identify Candace’s killer?

Lucas plays his cards close to his vest when meeting Regan. He is frustrated by the lack of cooperation with Candace’s sorority and faculty advisor Rachel Wagner. Although he does learn new details about the time Candace went missing, he is stressed by the lack of progress he is making. With Regan’s help, new leads begin coming in to the podcast, but will these new clues be enough for him to find everything he wants to know?

Following a personal tragedy, Regan leaves the Marshall Service and returns home. She is currently staying with her father, retired sheriff John Merritt, while she decides her future. Regan is happy to assist Lucas since it helps  take her mind off her own troubles. But she is soon deeply invested in solving Candace’s murder. She knows Lucas is holding something back from her, but she tries to give him the space and time he needs to talk to her. However,  the cold case takes on a new urgency following unexpected new developments. Regan begins to zero in on a suspect but will she and Lucas find the evidence they need for an arrest?

The Sorority Murder is a taut mystery that is full of suspense.  The tension builds with each new clue and missing diary pages fill readers in about previously unknown details. Lucas and Regan are well-drawn, appealing characters who are easy to root for. Regan’s backstory is heartbreaking and she is uncertain what comes next for her. Lucas is smart but not exactly forthcoming with some parts of his personal history. The storyline is well-written and quite engrossing. With an unpredictable plot twist, Allison Brennan brings this spectacular mystery to an edge of the seat conclusion.

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Review: Tell No Lies by Allison Brennan

Title: Tell No Lies by Allison Brennan
Quinn & Costa Thriller Book Two
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


The unsolved murder of a young activist leads to the discovery of much darker crimes in New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan’s latest compelling thriller to feaure the young, edgy detective Kara Quinn and the loner FBI agent Matt Costa. This time they work to uncover possible ties to a high-stakes cartel in the Southwest desert.

Something mysterious is killing the wildlife in the mountains just south of Tucson. When a college intern turned activist sets out to collect her own evidence, she, too, ends up dead. Local law enforcement is slow to get involved. That’s when the mobile FBI unit goes undercover to infiltrate the town and its copper refinery in search of possible leads.

Quinn and Costa find themselves scouring the desolate landscape, which keeps revealing clues to something much darker—greed, child trafficking and more death. As the body count adds up, it’s clear they have stumbled onto much more than they bargained for. Now they must figure out who is at the heart of this mayhem and stop them before more innocent lives are lost.

A Quinn & Costa Thriller

Book 1: The Third to Die

Book 2: Tell No Lies


Tell No Lies by Allison Brennan is a multi-layered mystery. Although this latest release is the second installment in the Quinn & Costa Thriller series, it can be read as a standalone.

FBI Special Agent Matt Costa and the rest of the Mobile Response Team are currently working on a murder case in Arizona. The death of Emma Perez appears to be tied to a copper mining company that might be dumping toxic waste. Agent Michael Harris is working undercover inside the company.  Agent Ryder Kim is posing as a college student so he can surreptitiously meet the other agents. LAPD Detective Kara Quinn is on loan to the team and she is working undercover in a local bar. Zach Heller is digging for information that will hopefully provide them with the details they need to put the pieces of this puzzle together.

Costa is working with Joe Molina, the son of the owner of the Southwest Copper Mine. Joe is uncomfortable providing inside information to the FBI. But he wants to prove his father’s innocence.  Joe makes no effort to hide his interest in Kara, so she agrees to spend  a day with him in hopes of learning new information. Harris is finding it difficult to lie to the workers he is befriending but he continues hoping he will overhear incriminating details from plant employees. Zach believes he might have discovered the key that will break the case wide open, so he feverishly works around the clock to prove his theory. Before her death, Emma confided her suspicions about the toxic chemicals to Frank Block, who dismissed her concerns. He has taken time off from work to see if he can locate  the toxic waste site. When their main suspect is murdered, will Costa, Kara and the rest of the team find Emma’s killer?

Tell No Lies is a complex mystery with several twists and turns. The pacing is initially a little slow, but the story soon gathers speed. The storyline is well-developed with story arcs that are quite interesting. Each of the regular characters is likable with realistic strengths and weaknesses. Matt and Kara’s relationship takes a personal turn but their blossoming romance is quite understated. With a shocking plot twist, Allison Brennan brings this intriguing mystery to an edge of the seat conclusion. Fans of the genre will enjoy this newest addition to the Quinn & Costa Thriller series.

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Review: The Third to Die by Allison Brennan

Title: The Third to Die by Allison Brennan
Mobile Response Team Series Book One
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 464 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


An edgy female police detective…An ambitious FBI special agent. Together they are at the heart of the ticking-clock investigation for a psychopathic serial killer. The bond they forge in this crucible sets the stage for high-stakes suspense.

Detective Kara Quinn, on leave from the LAPD, is on an early morning jog in her hometown of Liberty Lake when she comes upon the body of a young nurse. The manner of death shows a pattern of highly controlled rage. Meanwhile in DC, FBI special agent Mathias Costa is staffing his newly minted Mobile Response Team. Word reaches Matt that the Liberty Lake murder fits the profile of the compulsive Triple Killer. It will be the first case for the MRT. This time they have a chance to stop this zealous if elusive killer before he strikes again. But only if they can figure out who he is and where he is hiding before he disappears for another three years. The stakes are higher than ever before, because if they fail, one of their own will be next…


The first mystery in the Mobile Response Team series, The Third to Die by Allison Brennan is a clever law enforcement procedural.

Los Angeles Police Detective Kara Quinn is on administrative leave in her hometown when she stumbles across a dead body. The murder immediately attracts the attention of a newly formed FBI unit and Special Agent in Charge Mathias “Matt” Costa and his team are rapidly deployed from DC to investigate the case.  They are certain this recent death is the work of an elusive serial killer dubbed the Triple Killer. Working quickly to try to prevent the next murder, Kara, Matt, local police officer Andy Knolls and several police agencies are putting in long hours to try to identify the next victim and the killer.

Kara is an undercover detective whose last case resulted in her being put on administrative leave. Chafing at the bit to get back to work, she  does not hesitate to lend her expertise during the intense investigation into the  Triple Killer. Despite her sometimes brusque manner, Kara is a sharp detective with keen instincts. She proves to be invaluable to Matt and his squad as they narrow down their victim pool as they work quickly to protect suspected victims while trying to find find the killer.

While making progress with the victim list, a suspect proves to be elusive.  There are several elements of the killer’s murders that are a known quantity.  Despite the lack of leads, Matt is certain these latest killings and the murderer are connected to the area. He is also sure the victims are somehow linked, but finding the connection is frustratingly elusive.

The mystery element is intriguing and the cast of characters is appealing. However, the vast quantity of characters is confusing and difficult to keep up with.  Savvy readers will most likely pick up on clues long before Kara, Matt or other law enforcement officers. The plot is  interesting but the story gets bogged down with too many characters, lack of character development and  references to an event that took place prior to the current case.

The Third to Die is a tension-filled mystery with a fascinating crime to solve. Kara and Matt are likable and relatively well-developed. The investigation moves in fits and starts but it really picks up steam for the last quarter of the novel. Allison Brennan brings to the novel to explosive, action-packed conclusion. Despite a bit of a bumpy start, the Mobile Response Team series promises to be an adrenaline laced and unique crime fighting series.

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Review: Abandoned by Allison Brennan

Title: Abandoned by Allison Brennan
Max Revere Series Book Five
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan weaves the intimate, unputdownable story of an investigator confronting the most important–and most dangerous–mystery of her career.

Investigative reporter Max Revere has cracked many cases, but the one investigation she’s never attempted is the mystery from her own past. Her mother abandoned her when she was nine, sending her periodic postcards, but never returning to reclaim her daughter. Seven years after the postcards stop coming, Martha Revere is declared legally dead, with no sign of what may have happened to her. Until now.

With a single clue—that her mother’s car disappeared sixteen years ago in a small town on the Chesapeake Bay—Max drops everything to finally seek the truth. As Max investigates, and her mother’s story unfolds, she realizes that Martha teamed up with a con man. They traveled the world living off Martha’s trust and money they conned from others.

Though no one claims to know anything about Martha or her disappearance, Max suspects more than one person is lying. When she learns the FBI has an active investigation into the con man, Max knows she’s on the right path. But as Max digs into the dark secrets of this idyllic community, the only thing she might find is the same violent end as her mother.


The fifth installment in Allison Brennan’s Max Revere series, Abandoned is an intriguing mystery about a cold case that is has haunted Max for nearly twenty-two years. This latest release can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the previous novels in the series.

Investigative reporter Max Revere is taking time off from her cable show in order to concentrate on the cold case that she has never been able to crack: the inexplicable disappearance of her mother, Martha Revere. When Max was nine years old, Martha left her daughter with her grandparents and took off for parts unknown with her boyfriend, Jimmy Truman. Over the next six years, Max received a handful of postcards from Martha, but after her sixteenth birthday, she never heard from her mother again.  With new information that puts Martha in a seaside town in Virginia around the time she stopped mailing postcards, Max makes finding out the truth about what happened to Martha a priority.

Max is rather tenacious as she tries to retrace Martha’s footsteps. She is quite methodical as she questions anyone who has even the slightest connection to the case. She is very thorough as she researches the time period when Martha was known to be in town. Max tries to temper her usual blunt approach when she questions Jimmy’s brother, Gabriel, but he rather forcefully shuts her down.  After she discovers the FBI was looking into Jimmy, she teams up with FBI Agent Ryan Maguire to try to find out what happened to Martha and Jimmy who has vanished as well.

Unbeknownst to Max, her investigation is going to turn her life upside down. She has no idea what Jimmy and Martha were mixed up in, but readers get a front seat to their activities through a series of enlightening flashbacks. Max’s quest for answers sets in motion an unstoppable chain of events that will ultimately put Max and several other people in grave danger.

Abandoned is an evenly paced mystery with an interesting storyline and a cast of memorable characters. Max slowly but surely pieces together much of her missing mother’s life but will she find out for sure what happened to Martha? With stunning twists and shocking revelations, Allison Brennan brings the novel to an edge of the seat, dramatic conclusion. This newest addition is sure to be a hit with old and new fans of the Max Revere series.

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Filed under Abandoned, Allison Brennan, Contemporary, Max Revere Novel, Minotaur Books, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense

Review: Shattered by Allison Brennan

Title: Shattered by Allison Brennan
Max Revere Series Book Four
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


New York Times bestseller Allison Brennan’s two series collide in Shattered, a powerful, enthralling read about the craving for revenge and the desire for justice.

Over a span of twenty years, four boys have been kidnapped from their bedrooms, suffocated, and buried nearby in a shallow grave. Serial killer or coincidence?

That’s the question investigative reporter Maxine Revere sets out to answer when an old friend begs her to help exonerate his wife, who has been charged with their son’s recent murder. But Max can do little to help because the police and D.A. won’t talk to her—they think they have the right woman. Instead, Max turns her attention to three similar cold cases. If she can solve them, she might be able to help her friend.

Justin Stanton was killed twenty years ago, and his father wants closure—so he is willing to help Max with her investigation on one condition: that she work with his former sister-in-law— Justin’s aunt, FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid. Trouble is, Max works alone, and she’s livid that her only access to the case files, lead detective and witnesses depends on her partnering with a federal agent on vacation. She wants the career-making story almost as much as the truth—but if she gets this wrong, she could lose everything.

Haunted by Justin’s death for years, Lucy yearns to give her family—and herself—the closure they need. More important, she wants to catch a killer. Lucy finds Max’s theory on all three cases compelling—with Max’s research added to Lucy’s training and experience, Lucy believes they can find the killer so justice can finally be served. But the very private Lucy doesn’t trust the reporter any more than Max trusts her.

Max and Lucy must find a way to work together to untangle lies, misinformation, and evidence to develop a profile of the killer. But the biggest question is: why were these boys targeted? As they team up to find out what really happened the night Justin was killed, they make a shocking discovery: Justin’s killer is still out there … stalking another victim … and they already may be too late.


In Shattered, intrepid investigative reporter Maxine “Max” Revere reluctantly teams up with rookie FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid Rogan to investigate a series of kidnapping/homicides that span twenty years. This latest mystery is the fourth installment in the Max Revere series and also features the heroine from the Lucy Kincaid series. Fortunately enough back story is provided for both Max and Lucy that Allison Brennan’s newest release can easily be read as a standalone.

Max’s investigative skills are put to the test when her former college boyfriend John Caldwell requests her help after his wife Blair is arrested for the murder of their eight year old son. John has discovered three other cases with similar MOs and he is hoping that Max will find enough evidence to not only exonerate Blair but hopefully catch his son’s real killer. Max specializes in investigating cold cases and since Blair’s trial is about to begin, no one on either side of the case is willing to talk to her. So Max turns her attention to the twenty year unsolved death of the suspected first victim, Justin Stanton, in hopes of unmasking the murderer. Justin’s father, District Attorney Andrew Stanton will only co-operate if his former sister-in-law Lucy and Max agree to work together.  Despite their somewhat tense first meeting, Max very grudgingly decides to join forces with Lucy in order to try to uncover the killer’s identity.

Max is still rather brusque as she tenaciously pursues the truth with a single-minded focus that makes a force to be reckoned with. She is initially quite put off by Lucy’s husband Sean who is over-protective of his wife and somewhat combative towards Max. His prejudgment is based solely on her occupation and while she resents his overbearing approach, she quickly realizes she needs Lucy’s assistance if she is going to uncover new evidence in the decades old cold case of the death of Lucy’s nephew.  Extremely curious about her temporary partner, Max resists her natural temptation to dig into her past. After her efforts to keep Lucy out of the loop swiftly fail, Max graciously concedes defeat and stops resisting working with Lucy.

Despite a very troubled personal history, Lucy has an impressive track record when it comes to solving crimes. She is a little impulsive and often acts without thinking about personal safety. Her situation  on the job is a bit tricky at the moment since she is working with a new  boss who does not give her the leeway Lucy has experienced in the past. Nonetheless, she is committed to finding Justin’s killer even when faced with shockingly strong opposition from her family. Lucy’s instincts and keen insight are instrumental in setting the course for the investigation and she and Max soon settle into their temporary partnership.

The investigation moves at a steady  pace but Lucy and Max quickly discover the passage of time, lack of physical evidence and reluctant family members are somewhat formidable obstacles for them to overcome.  However, the disparate pieces of information from the various cases begin to  fall into place and they soon have a viable theory about  how and why the killer targets the victims.  From that point forward, their investigation picks up steam and with Andrew’s assistance, they narrow down their suspect pool.  Their search for the murderer then becomes rather urgent as Lucy and Max realize the killer might be preparing to  strike again.

Shattered is an intricately plotted mystery with an unusual premise and a fascinating dynamic between two unlikely partners. Despite a little repetition, the storyline is engrossing and unfolds at an even pace. Allison Brennan does an outstanding job bringing the protagonists from two unrelated series together and although Max and Lucy are initially distrusting of one another, they uneasily set aside their differences in order to find a suspected serial killer. All of the story arcs are completely wrapped up by the end of Shattered, but a shocking revelation about an unresolved storyline from Max’s past will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment in the Max Revere series. Fans of the Lucy Kincaid series will be very curious to see what awaits Lucy when she returns to San Antonio.

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Review: Poisonous by Allison Brennan

Title: Poisonous by Allison Brennan
Max Revere Novels Book Three
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 365 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Teen-aged Internet bully Ivy Lake fell off a cliff and few people cared … except her mentally-challenged eighteen-year-old step-brother, Tommy. He loved her in spite of her cruelty. He’s distraught and doesn’t understand why his blended family is falling apart. After a year, the police still have no answers: Ivy could have jumped, could have been pushed, or it could have been an accident. With too many suspects and not enough evidence, the investigation has grown cold.

Tommy thinks that if someone can figure out what happened to his step-sister, everything will go back to normal, so he writes to investigative reporter Maxine Revere. This isn’t the type of case Max normally takes on, but the heartbreak and simple honesty in Tommy’s letter pulls her in. She travels to Corte Madera, California, with her assistant David Kane and is at first pleased that the police are cooperative. But the more Max learns about Tommy and his dysfunctional family, the more she thinks she’s taken on an impossible task: this may be the one case she can’t solve.

If Ivy was murdered, it was exceptionally well-planned and that kind of killer could be hiding in plain sight … planning the next act of violence. Max believes the truth is always better than lies, that the truth is the only thing that matters to gain justice for victims and their families. But for the first time, she wonders if this time, the truth will kill.

Poisonous is the latest in the electrifying Max Revere series from New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan.


Poisonous by Allison Brennan is another perplexing mystery that has plenty of unexpected twists and turns.  This third installment in the Max Revere Novels series featuring an investigative reporter who investigates cold cases can be read as a standalone but I highly recommend the entire series.

After receiving a letter from Tommy Wallace pleading for help in solving his stepsister’s case,  Max and her assistant/body guard David Kane travel to CA to look into the unsolved death of teenager Ivy Lake.  An internet bully who drove one young woman to suicide, Ivy was intensely disliked and with a slew of suspects to chose from, the police are no closer to solving the case than they were fourteen months ago.  With cutting edge resources at her fingertips, Max uncovers vital  information about Ivy’s death that revitalizes the entire investigation but will they catch the killer before it is too late?

Max is still brash, outspoken and tenacious but she is now less impulsive and thinks before she speaks.  Due to the events from her last case, she is much more self-aware and introspective (much to her dismay).  This current case brings out the softer and more compassionate aspects of her personality and she is quite gentle, caring and protective when dealing with Tommy.  Despite these changes, Max is deeply committed to solving the case despite her mounting concern that she might not find the answers she is searching for.

David is much more involved in this latest case.  His meticulous research and ability to read people and situations are instrumental in narrowing down the list of suspects.  His relationship with Max has deeply affected her and his advice to her has helped smooth some of her rougher edges.  David’s situation with his precarious visitation with his daughter provides him with unique insight into the dysfunctional family relationships Max encounters during the investigation.  He offers sound advice that helps defuse tense meetings and although Max does not always agree with his assessments, she does tone down her somewhat overbearing approach to interviews.

The investigation moves at a steady pace and while not everyone is cooperative, Max discovers information about Ivy’s activities that produces a few viable leads.  Ivy’s mother refuses to believe the truth about her daughter’s cyber bullying and she refuses to cooperate with Max.  Ivy’s brother Austin is angry and somewhat volatile and his resentment of his mother’s treatment of Tommy worsens as she becomes more vocal about her suspicions that he is responsible for Ivy’s death.  A local journalist pursues his own agenda and his columns are a careful blend of fact and speculation that hinder Max’s investigation.  Although some of Ivy’s victims are initially reluctant to talk to Max, their revelations prove invaluable and yield valuable clues to her killer’s identity.

Poisonous is an intriguing mystery with a compelling storyline and a well-developed cast of characters.   With a vast pool of suspects, Allison Brennan’s skillful misdirects and red herrings keep the perpetrator’s identity and motive concealed right up until the novel’s dramatic and stunning conclusion.   A riveting and meaningful plot, a fascinating but dysfunctional family and Max’s continued character growth make this latest addition to the Max Revere Novels series an absolutely outstanding read that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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