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.