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by Allison Brennan
Minotaur, August 2018
352 pages
ISBN: 1250164486

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Although ABANDONED by Allison Brennan is the fifth in the Max Revere series, it works as a riveting stand-alone mystery.

Maxine Revere, usually referred to as Max, is an investigative reporter who has solved several cold cases on "Maximum Exposure," her cable TV show. With a growing reputation and impressive success under her belt Max decides to tackle her biggest case yet: find out what happened to her mother, Martha, after she left Max with her parents, promising to come back, but never did. Taking a month off to explore leads a private investigator has finally put together, Max rents a house in Cape Haven, Virginia, where they discovered a car, owned by her mother using an alias, abandoned sixteen years earlier.

The story moves back and forth between chapters describing what Martha was doing at different points in her life without Max and what Max is doing now to track down her mother.

Everyone believes Martha is dead. The reason: Martha stops collecting her monthly trust fund check. When Martha left Max with Eleanor she went away with Jimmy Truman, a con man, and they spent the next several years traveling all over the world, running cons when they ran out of her monthly allowance. In Dallas, Martha met Phillip Colter and persuaded Jimmy to let her distract Colter while Jimmy steals paintings that Colter and his gang have liberated from various museums.

Many years later, in Cape Haven, Max tries to piece this history together from the few leads she's gathered: a series of postcards from her mother over the first six years she was gone; the rental car found in Cape Haven; a storage unit that her mother rented in Miami; and the fact that the FBI is investigating Jimmy. Gabriel, Jimmy's brother, confronts Max and, to protect his family, warns her to leave Cape Haven - now. FBI Agent Ryan Maguire contacts her looking for information relating to his art theft case – Jimmy sold one of seven stolen paintings to a Russian. Phillip Colter comes looking for Max thinking she may know where his Degas is since he is certain Martha stole it. Turns out Colter owns a business and a house in Cape Haven, not far from where Martha's car was found.

This complex, well-conceived story explores the relationship between the three generations of smart, strong women as Brennan details the actions and thoughts of Martha, her mother Eleanor, and her daughter Maxine as they move through the twenty-three years covered in the book. The threads running through this story are too numerous to delineate but they add rich layers of tension as well as depth to the characters with surprises not mentioned in this review.

Allison Brennan is a skillful storyteller and ABANDONED is 350 pages of unrelenting suspense.

The question now: are the first four Max Revere investigations as satisfying to read as ABANDONED? I believe I know how to find out.

§ Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton’s, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, August 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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