POISONOUS – Allison Brennan
Max Revere Series , Book 3
Minotaur Books (Hardcover)
ISBN-13:  978-1250066848
April 2016

Sausalito and Corte Madera in Marin County, California

Investigating reporter Maxine Revere travels cross-country to the San Francisco Bay area in response to a heartfelt letter from a young man whose step-sister died after a fall from a cliff over a year ago. Tommy Wallace may be a bit slow, but he functions quite well, considering his family fell apart when his parents divorced and his father remarried. (Tommy's step-mother could have been the inspiration for this book's title…or was that Ivy?) Now, it's worse than ever since Ivy died. Her death might have been an accident, suicide, or murder. Suicide seems unlikely, as she was definitely not the type. If an accident, what was she doing alone out in the wilderness so late at night? If murder, there are many who are glad she's dead. Ivy Lake was a bully—a cyber bully—who loved to spread scandal on the internet. Another teen recently killed herself after Ivy posted pictures of her and a boy on a porno site.

Ivy's death worsened the rift between his father and the rest of the family (Tommy, his mother and his sister). Tommy is a sweet boy who loves all his siblings…whole, half, and step. When he turned eighteen, he tried to get the police to reopen Ivy's case, but had no luck. So with the help of his step-brother, Austin, thirteen, he wrote to Max Revere for help.

Max investigates cold cases and reports about them on her TV show Maximum Exposure. Through hard work and dedication, she has a good record of success…and no little repercussion.

Like Max, readers of POISONOUS will find Tommy wholly likable, even lovable. While Tommy is often teased and called names, he has the fierce protection of Austin, young as he is. While Tommy's mother dotes on him, she's overprotective. Austin is the only one who sees that Tommy is mostly underrated. And Tommy is the only one who truly loves Austin.

Ms. Brennan does an excellent job of portraying all the many characters involved in this story…and there are many who add to the riveting tale. Besides Max and her friend and assistant—and erstwhile bodyguard—David Kane, David's ex and daughter, and the whole combined Wallace/Lake family, there are Ivy's victims and other teens. Locals, especially the lead detective on the Ivy Lake case, Grace Martin, are also well delineated . . .

Don't worry; I'll stop with the list now. Not that it's complete. Just believe that each person is unique and you will get to know them. Ms. Brennan excels at bringing her creations to life...and making you care. Don't miss this excellent read.

Jane Bowers