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Max Revere Novels, #3

This third book in the Max Revere series begins on a heart-tugging note, as Max has been sought out by a mentally challenged boy, Tommy, who is a possible suspect in his step-sister, Ivy’s, death.

Ivy had either jumped, fell, or was pushed from a cliff, but after nearly a year, there are no clear cut answers as to what really happened. The biggest complication for everyone is that Ivy was a cyberbully and had hurt many people, making her a likely target for murder.

Max is instantly intrigued by the case and perhaps touched by Tommy’s letter to her. So, she and her best friend, colleague, and former bodyguard, David Kane, travel to the small community of Corte Madera, California to investigate.

On top of looking into this puzzling case, Max finds her friendship with David and her relationship with Nick strained by their custody issues, while she copes with insomnia and her own personal demons.

This mystery novel hits the nail on the head when comes to the challenges kids face in the digital age.

Cyberbullying is a real and possibly deadly issue for victims, but in this case, it’s the bully who became the victim. In many crime novels, the victim in someone I feel sorry for, but for Ivy, I couldn’t muster up much compassion. However, if she was murdered, the truth needs to come out and justice served.

The author did her homework here, or is perhaps personally familiar with all the avenues available to teens these days to hide messages and images from their parents or even from law enforcement, which is part of the reason this story is so chilling.

The other, very prominent theme in this novel, is the complexity of family and how adults can behave in such a manner it causes a chain reaction. which leads to all manner of grief. This thread reads like a cautionary tale, and is a sad commentary, but one that is all too real and far too common.

Max’s character is complex and in this installment, she seems a little fragile, but still maintains her edge, pushing for the truth, even if it hurts. Sadly, that could mean casualties and Max may need to reflect on her methods and perhaps her mental state.

This is a complex crime novel, very compelling, emotional, sad, and quite disturbing on many levels. The characters are complicated, but interesting, with heavy concerns weighing on their minds, which certainly gave me plenty to think about. The pacing is just a little slow at times, and the family drama occasionally took precedence over the investigation, but the threads all come together in the end, with a dramatic showdown that will hopefully be a wake-up call for those involved.

This is a solid crime novel worth checking out, even if you have not been following the series. This story will appeal to anyone who enjoys mysteries or suspense thrillers.

Book Blurb for Poisonous

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.

Night Owl Reviews May, 2016 4.00