Honestly, I picked this up for due diligence for work but if it’s anything to go by, this will be an assignment I absolutely adore! I had so many Veronica Mars flashbacks when reading this book: smart, sassy lead investigates the death of her high school best friend and discovers secrets and lies amidst her closest family and friends. Of course, the smart, sassy lead happens to be past thirty and researching the cold case reluctantly, after being approached by the grandparents of a young architect (engineer? It’s late and I couldn’t be arsed to go get my Kindle to double-check) whose recent murder at the lead’s high school remains unsolved, but might be related to the other murder fifteen (thirteen? See my prior excuse) years previously. I kinda sorta figured out who did it midway through, but the excellent misdirection had me totally abandon that idea, till it all came together in the end. Great plotting.
But my hands down favorite aspect of this book was Max Revere, our heroine, herself. She isn’t nice and that’s a big fucking thing. I’ve recently been having discussions about nice vs polite, and I’ll admit in all honesty that I tend to politeness more than niceness, as I’m competitive and judgmental but realize that that doesn’t mean I can’t be civil about things. A lot of people mistake my politeness for niceness, but I can be a vindictive mofo when crossed. Of course, I default to believing the best of people till proven wrong: I may not be nice, but I’m not a psychopath either.
And “nice” is not an adjective you would ever use for Max. She’s demanding, sometimes bitchy, but always fair. She believes in standing up for what’s right no matter the personal consequences, and while I think her crusade for truth borders on zealotry, I think she does have a very good point regarding justice. You can’t sweep problems under the rug: they won’t just disappear. People who literally get away with murder will 99 times out of a hundred keep doing terrible things until they’re caught and punished. Max understands this instinctively, and combining this with her ability to look at things objectively means that she isn’t the most popular person in her hometown. The event that initially draws her back there is the funeral of the man who was accused of killing her best friend. She was one of the few townspeople to stand by him, but was devastated when he told her, after a trial that ended in a hung jury, that he’d had a solid alibi all along but didn’t want to expose it because he was convinced that the system wouldn’t convict an innocent person (I know, I know, get your eye rolls out of the way here.) Max puts this break down to her hatred of liars but I found her secondary argument to be more valid: the time that the cops and prosecutors put in to building a case against him would have been better put towards finding the real killer, who continues to live undetected. Like, damn, son, stress yourself out as much as you need to, but you’re wasting everyone’s time and money and a killer is going free.
Anyway, I’m really looking forward to reading more of Max and of Allison Brennan’s other books. Good thing that I have three more lined up!