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

Summary:

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.

Review:

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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