April 12, 2016
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*some character/relationship-centric spoilers for Notorious and Compulsion - Books 1 & 2*
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.Poisonous is the third Maxine Revere Novel following Notorious and Compulsion (both of which I have read - but not reviewed - and recommend). Maxine Revere is an investigative journalist and host of the crime show Maximum Exposure on NET. The recognition hosting a national television show has given her means Max can no longer do undercover work but she can still travel the country tryng to solve cold cases.
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.
Many of the cases she investigates deal with missing persons but the one that has piqued her interest this time deals with the murder of Ivy Lake. It's not the details of Ivy's death that have Max travelling to California, rather it's the plea from her step-brother, eighteen-year-old Tommy who is mentally challenged. He wants Max to find the killer so his family can go back to how they were.
Poisonous has a lot going on. From the cyber-bullying, the blended families (of several characters), the how Tommy is treated and viewed, to Max's own past - the recent and not so recent.
Some of the parallels are more readily apparent: David and Nick's acrimonious relationships with their respective exes, how Max wants to 'fix' things for them and how they then view Tommy family so differently. Other things only come to light once truths are uncovered, secrets revealed and most of the story is known.
One of the things I really liked about Compulsion was that it clearly followed Notorious and if you had read the first book you would see how, but there were a lot fewer spoilers for it than with most series books. There were few mentions of what had happened and no specifics. (Except, of course, that Max's relationship with Nick was a carry-over from what happened in the earlier book.)
To a somewhat lesser extent, that was also true with Poisonous. There were more mentions of what had happened, more details given (still without being very specific). It is great for anyone who picks the books up out of order (though I still suggest reading in order) yet it also fits with Max's character. Moving on and trying not to think about those events makes sense for her.
I really enjoy that these books are such great mysteries. Everything unfolds, with different secrets and truths coming to light in unexpected ways, in just the right order, at just the right time. There is enough reason to suspect multiple characters, reasons you don't want to suspect some characters, and things that will lead you in the wrong direction. Once everything is revealed it's both surprising, not something you see coming, but also makes perfect sense.
I loved that Max's past - the time that we saw in the two earlier books and prior to that, as well - played into how she investigated, what she believed (or wanted to) and how she reacted, more so than in either previous book.
Max Revere, David, Emma, Ben, and Nick are characters I am really coming to love and, though some of their relationships have me worried, I really look forward to reading more with them.
Other Books You May Also Enjoy: Notorious and Compulsion by Allison Brennan and Roadside Crosses by Jeffery Deaver
digital copy received, for review from publisher, via NetGalley