Shattered
Allison Brennan
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Buy *Shattered (A Max Revere Novel)* by Allison Brennanonline

Shattered (A Max Revere Novel)
Allison Brennan
Minotaur Books
Hardcover
400 pages
August 2017
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Brennan hones in on a solitary serial killer, a shattered marriage, and a life suffering under the weight of regret. On the hunt is Maxine Revere. Brennanís devoted investigative reporter attempts to solve cold cases but, in the process, grates on the nerves of most cops. Maxís investigative juices flow after she gets a call from John Caldwell, her old college friend and ex-boyfriend, who tells her that his wife, Blair, is to stand trial for the murder of their only child, Peter. John desperately believes Blair is innocent. Ever loyal to her friend, Max agrees to fly to Scottsdale, admitting to herself that Johnís story will be great fodder for her monthly crime show, Maximum Exposure.

The case is high profile: a wealthy mother killing her eight-year-old son. Everyone is under the microscope including John, a man Max has respected and even admired. But Peterís brutal killing and Blairís subsequent trial parallels three cold cases that have Max flying from New York to Phoenix, then on to San Diego and into the orbit of FBI agent Lucy Kincaid and Lucyís ex-brother-in-law Andrew Stanton who lost his son, Justin, almost twenty years ago. There are many similarities to Peterís murder, but without the police records and forensic reports, it will be next to impossible for Max to prove that the cases are linked. The first two homicides were unsolved. In the third, the father is in prison, while Peterís case seems to be built on a frustrating collection of circumstantial evidence.

Brennanís early chapters focus on Max as she attempts to piece together the night that Peter was murdered. Though she's drained and distracted by the dance she and her boyfriend, Nick, have been waltzing for the last four months, Max really wants to focus her energy on Justin Stanton. In her experience, the first victim is the most likely victim to have known the killer. Max also wants to give the three families closure and find justice for three little boys whose lives were taken too soon: ďI wonít know if theyíre connected until I dig deeper.Ē Law enforcement isnít particularly interested in an almost 20-year cold case. Max has the time and resources to pursue Justin Stantonís murder; sheís also convinced that more important people might talk to her because she isnít a cop.

Max needs access to the retired detective who led the investigation. Enter Lucy Kincaid. Lucy has experience in complicated cases, although Max is initially reluctant to let the agent work with her--Max is always in the driverís seat and she always has control of any situation. Max has an ego, and wants to work the case on her own terms. Twenty years is a long time. Max, however, is smart enough to realize that Lucy possesses a unique skill set and experience investigating serial killers. Max believes Lucy will pursue the cases with or without her. Consequently, she finds herself at loggerheads with the Kincaid family, who will do everything they can to stop her--particularly Lucyís sister-in-law, Nell, and her older sister, Carina, who went through hell and back when she was itreated as the prime suspect in Justinís murder.

Lucy agrees to work with Max after Max makes a promise to Sean Rogan, Lucyís husband, to never dig around into his wifeís past. With Lucyís family finally appeased, the women turn their focus to the four little boys: Justin, Tommy Porter, Chris Donovan, and nine months ago, Peter Caldwell. All were between the ages of seven and nine, and all were kidnapped from their bedrooms in the middle of the night while their parents were out. That the police did due diligence twenty years ago doesnít mean they didnít miss something: ďI find it difficult to believe that one person can kill four children over such as length of time with such a long wait in between.Ē

Max and her media team begin doing the rounds, information drip-fed from the familyís memories until a picture begins to emerge: a suspected murderer who vanished while the families of the little boys have given up hope. It all points to a serial killer who has had long stretches, perhaps even years, to cool off. The manner of death has a distinct pattern: the care given to the bodies, the personal touch, and the fact that the fathers of the first three victims had been with their mistresses at the times of the murders. Max and Lucy know the importance of understanding both the motive and victimology of the killer--a crucial aspect of the investigation, especially with cold cases, where time and distance create layer upon layer of distorted memories.

Brennanís thriller features moments of heart-stopping intensity as the team race to place the pieces of the puzzle to prevent another murder. Though there's much melodramatic handwriting by Lucyís angst-ridden family, the end results build to a climax in which a damaged killer who has survived the unthinkable faces the formidable skills of Max and Lucy, a sophisticated duo who have the resources to track their scheming target, an exhausted executioner forever stained by the past.



Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Michael Leonard, 2018

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