Notoriousby Allison Brennan (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Series: Max Revere Novels #1
Published by Minotaur Books on March 25, 2014
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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.
Maxine Revere has dealt with more unsolved death in her life than the average person. While the murders of her high school best friend during their senior year, and later her college best friend in an unrelated crime led her to become an investigative reporter that takes on cold cases across the country for her national television show, she’s still haunted by their deaths. Estranged from the friend who was accused but not convicted of the murder in high school, Max reluctantly returns to her home town for his funeral after he commits suicide. Kevin was never able to recover from the stigma of being accused of Lindy’s murder, so he’d drank and drugged himself into oblivion in the ensuing years. But he’d also been doing some digging into the murder when the police wouldn’t do anymore, and he tried to contact Max after thirteen years–but she wouldn’t speak to him.
Max has only been back to her hometown a handful of times since high school. Even though she grew up rich and privileged, she was the black sheep of the family since her flighty mother dropped her off to live with her grandparents when she was ten years old. Max has always been outspoken, hated lies to the point of exposing others deceit no matter what the consequences, and that doesn’t go over well in the high society of her community that thinks they should be able to do what they want without repercussions. Her family certainly wasn’t happy when Max sided with her friend Kevin, the boy accused of killing Lindy.
When Max arrives at the local airport with her assistant/bodyguard David in tow, an elderly couple recognizes her and asks her to look into the murder of their grandson. This happened on a construction site of her former school’s property, which is also where her best friend’s body was discovered all those years ago. Even though she promises them nothing, she says that she’ll look into it. In the meantime, she meets with Kevin’s sister, who’s convinced that Kevin didn’t kill himself. When Max agrees to look into this, she unwittingly opens up a storm of intertwining events that go back to high school and Lindy’s murder, and maybe even the latest murder in town. Just how far will Max go to find the truth and how much of the past is she willing to dig up to get there?
Max is an interesting and complex character. Blunt, head strong, smart and determined, she is used to getting what she wants, and she knows exactly how to manipulate people and situations to her ends. Max is able to make connections and get information where the police haven’t been able to, and that’s what makes her such a great investigator. She is also afraid of commitment and has trouble sharing or asking people for help, however, and she has a very complicated relationship with her family. Her assistant David was a nice treat and I look forward to seeing more of him in the next book. He’s smart, connected, and resourceful, and he’s super protective of his boss.
Detective Nick Santini helps Max when he can, but only after she’s proven herself to him. He’s tough, no nonsense, and sees through her crap, so he’s on to her tactics in a second. Plus, Nick knows that the original detective in the murder has it out for Max and acts accordingly.
I give Notorious a 4.5 out of 5. With great pacing and excellent twists, I couldn’t put this one down as Max put the pieces together (with a little bit of help from Nick and David) and solved the murders. Max is a intriguing character and puts herself at risk while she’s trying to find the answers, even if it’s going to cost her personally. The back story snippets about Max’s family and history that were sprinkled throughout have left me eager for the next book. This is an excellent beginning to thrilling new series.