Review: Notorious

Notorious, Allison Brennan

Reviewed by Amanda

Published March 25th 2014 by Minotaur Books

336 pages

Source: Netgalley

From Goodreads…


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.

Thank you Netgalley and Minotaur Books for this advanced read copy for review.  

Notorious is a new mystery series by Allison Brennan following Max Revere, an investigative reporter, who looks into cold cases for her television show.  I really enjoy mysteries, but honestly I feel that so many mysteries today are just way too based on horrific violence towards women and rape and I don’t find that entertaining.  When I saw Notorious was a female lead I was excited to give it a chance hoping with a female lead it wouldn’t be too misogynistic.  On that note at least I was right.  

Reading Notorious I pictured Max as Investigative Reporter Barbie.  She had the looks, she had the body, she had the “dream house” in her apartment in Manhattan.  Max just tried too hard for me. She was a tough girl, but there was too much put into making her this tough as nails reporter and bragging about how hard she could be and not enough into humanizing her. Yes, we learn Max had a rough early life with her mother disappearing and an internal family feud over her inheritance. But, she has an inheritance; she talks about how she doesn’t really need her job, every straight man is attracted to her… Barbie.  

Max returns home to attend her high school friend’s funeral and finds herself investigating two cold cases.  I thought the mysteries themselves were pretty good.  I was intrigued as I was reading about what could have happened to both murder victims, her high school friend Lindy and the new case Jason, and how the deaths could be connected.

Max had some good supporting characters.  I enjoyed her assistant David and I hope he will humanize her a bit in the next book.  I  would be interested to see how the future books show her actually filming her show while investigating and her relationship with her producer since we only hear from him over the phone in Notorious.

Max reflects back on her losses quite frequently, that of her mother disappearing from her life, her high school friend Lindy and her college friend Karen. I appreciate that Brennan only really delved into Lindy’s murder in this book and left a lot of questions to be answered in the future. I often find myself liking the first book of a series the least and I hope that’s the case with Max Revere. I would read the next book to see where Max heads next and what questions she can answer. I liked the idea of Max’s pursuit of the truth and I would give her another chance.

2.5 stars