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The Sorority Murder

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Member Reviews

The premise of this book is great - on-campus murder! true-crime podcast! - but it just fell a little flat for me with its execution. The characters were underdeveloped and all ran together so I found myself losing interest fast.
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I would call this more of a mystery than a thriller, but I enjoyed the story and found it compelling - it could stand to be a little more chilling, IMO, but still worth a read.
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The Sorority Murder is a thrilling, twist-filled murder mystery about a guy obsessed with the murder of a girl who left a sorority party only for her body to be found two weeks later and the case to go cold. Now he works at the medical examiner's office and discovered new information that no one seems interested in, so he creates a podcast investigating the murder himself. The story is filled with plenty of twists, compelling characters, and a solid whodunnit. Highly recommended! Be sure to check out The Sorority Murder today.
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Thank you very much for the chance to review this book - I read the arc in a very delayed fashion, but I did read it!! 

This was an enjoyable mystery that kept me flipping the pages. The first half was especially intriguing, but once a few clues were dropped it became fairly obvious what the result was going to be and then it was more of a criminal investigation which is less my jam.

Overall, I'm glad I read it but it's not a new favourite.
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I love all of Allison Brennan's work and this one was no exception. The mystery surrounding the death of Candace Swain is intriguing and really keeps you guessing. I like the character dynamics in this book. It was a quick read because I had to know what was going to happen. Definitely recommend and can't wait for next one!
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I did enjoy this book but I didn't love it. The characters didn't feel real to me, the only one that I could really get a feel for was Regan and I suspect that is because this is the start of a series. I did like the premise and the plot did keep me guessing. I will continue with the series.
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RATING: 3.5 STARS
2021; Mira/Harlequin

If you enjoyed the YA novel A Good Girl's Guide to Murder you will like this one. While this is for an adult audience, it does take place at a college and with younger characters. I think older teens would be okay to read this one. The Sorority Murder is another novel using a true crime podcast as a plot device. I listen to many true crime podcasts as I work, so I enjoy reading books that include this in them. There was a novel, the title escapes me, that I didn't think worked as well, but I liked this one. I thought this was a standalone novel when I first started this book, and then realized it's a first book in a series. The amount of background information given about the main character, Regan was a bit much and vague if it was for just one book. I am looking forward to learn more about Regan as the series progresses. I do enjoy her father as a secondary character and hope there is more of him. The murder in this book was interesting but didn't have any suspense for me. I won't say led me to it, in case I ruin it for others like me.

***I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.***
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I had never read an Allison Brennan before, and I get the sense that this might be a bit of a different take for her. I found this originally a fairly compelling entry into the “podcaster turns investigator” genre, but it took a fair amount of time to build to actually progressing the investigation after its initial start, and some of the characters, such as Lucas, felt extremely thin. I also thought some of the other characterization of side characters was clunky. But, that could be because Regan was really the main character after all, and once I embraced that, it worked a bit better for me. The pacing felt a bit off as well — we spent a lot of time in certain phases of the plot, and it felt a bit slow and circuitous, and there were a lot of side relationships that felt like laying the foundation for a series, rather than presenting possible other suspects. I also thought it didn’t do a lot with some of the ethical questions it sort of raised around podcasting and inserting ones self in the investigation (or the ethics of how some of the information was obtained! Or how the town turned on certain individuals! It just kind of brushed on past a lot!).

As alluded to in the blurb, this book also ends up with a pretty high body count for a relatively small town, that felt like someone should be like, wow, what’s happening in Flagstaff?
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This book was okay, but that’s it, it was just okay. I got halfway and there still hadn’t been a hook to drive you to finish it. I kept waiting but by the end there still hadn’t been a hook. It was alright but not fabulous
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The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan is a highly recommended murder mystery.

Three years ago Candace Swain was a popular sorority member and senior nursing student at Northern Arizona University when she left the sorority Spring Fling party and disappeared. A week later her body was found in a lake at a golf course. Her case remained open with the only suspect, a homeless alcoholic, missing. Now Lucas Vega, who was a freshman when Candace was murdered, has decided to do a podcast focused on Candace's murder for his senior capstone project as a forensics major. He is hoping to review the case, present some new information he has found, and have listeners call in with any additional information they might have.

When Regan Merritt, a former US marshal, is a guest lecturer at the university, Lucas invites her to share her expertise on his podcast. When reviewing the case and the information Lucas has discovered, Regan decides to join him on the podcast. She stays on to help as new information is brought to light and she believes Lucas may actually be able to solve the murder. It is also clear to her that Lucas is holding a secret of his own that may have been the impetus behind the podcast idea.

Regan is a great, fully realized character and hopefully she'll be back in her own series. She provides the maturity, intelligence, knowledge, and experience that the novel needs to make the investigation into the murder mystery seem believable. She has a lot of her own resources and contacts in the area that are of great help. Lucas is also a believable character, but he seemed younger than a senior in college. It is clear from the start that he is hiding something, but he is clearly dedicated to solving Candace's murder. He and Reagan make a good team.

The Sorority Murder is a compelling, complex, solid murder mystery and held my attention throughout despite the fact that the pacing of the plot is a bit uneven at the beginning and it does have a slow start while setting up the story. Once things get moving and new information is slowly coming in, the pacing picks up. Along with following Lucas and Regan, there are also excerpts from a journal Candace kept. The narrative approaches solving the mystery like a procedural. I enjoyed this approach where new information is discovered or uncovered in the quest of solving the mystery.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of MIRA Books.
The review was published on Barnes & Noble, Edelweiss,Google Books, and Amazon.
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Am I now jaded on Thrillers? Maybe so. Because basic mystery's listed as Thrillers and described as chilling is not cutting it for me anymore.

The Sorority Murder started out great. A nice intro, a murder, an unknown killer and a student who, several years later, wants to start a podcast to look into the murder and find the killer. Great set-up.

Then the story begins and it just goes....nowhere. There are only a few evidence pieces and they are talked about ad nauseum. I was putting my book down and pressing my fingertips to my eyes by the end. I just couldn't handle it anymore. So repetitive!

Then there is the fact that the chapters go from present to past/Candace's experiences, to present to past Candace's journal and back and forth and back and forth. Why were we learning things from a journal when a journal hadn't even yet been spoken about in the story?

The ending was just ok. The unraveling of the whodunnit was interesting, but just barely. There certainly weren't twists as so many people have stated in their reviews. This seemed like a basic mystery, with mostly unlikable characters. I do not understand all the hype around this one.

Thank you to #Mira and #NetGalley for this ARC. All opinions expressed are my own.
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This was not as great as I had hoped, honestly. The killer was obvious and the motive was just absurd. I enjoyed the true crime podcast aspect, though!
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I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This book was interesting enough to keep my attention but didn't have me guessing at the end. I didn't really fell an attachment to the main characters and I felt there were some unnecessary distracting things. It was okay to me.
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This book grabbed me by the title. I love books about murder and the thrill of finding out who did it and such. 

Lucas Vega is hosting a podcast called The Sorority Murder as a capstone project, where he elaborates the facts that happened three years before, when the sorority member Candace Swain was found dead in a lake. Lucas doesn't believe the homeless man convicted for the crime is the real killer, so he's trying to gather new information to prove his theory.

I think it was a slow start. It took a while to actually get moving in the book. There could have been more character development as well. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over. The plot has a good ring to it but it could have been written better. 

Overall I finished the book and while I thought it could have been written better, I still enjoyed it.
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4.5 Stars

Chilling, unsettling and compulsively readable, The Sorority Murder is the latest top-notch crime thriller from Allison Brennan.

The death of Candace Swain has long fascinated Lucas Vega. Candace had gone to a sorority party and never returned. Her body had been found after two days, but the case had soon grown cold and Candace’s killer remained at large. Lucas’ interest in this case had never wavered and when three years later, he discovered new information while interning at a medical examiners’ office, he vows to do whatever it takes to discover the truth about Candace’s murder. With the police not being remotely interested, Lucas decides to do his own investigating and creates a podcast inviting members of the public who were at the party to share their insights, memories and suspicions. With guest lecturer Regan Merritt agreeing to come onto the show, Lucas is convinced he will get to the bottom of this mystery. But just why is he so interested in this case? And what is it about Candace Swain and her murder that so intrigues Lucas?

With the public’s ever-increasing interest in true crime, the podcast is a huge success for Lucas and Regan and when a tip comes in that gets them closer to Candace’s murder than they’ve ever been before, they are both elated. However, their happiness is short-lived when one of the podcast callers turns up dead. More shocks are on the way when a theory is put to Lucas and Regan that implicates other sorority sisters. Yet, the biggest twist of all is the discovery of a dangerous secret about Lucas that has Regan wondering whether she can trust him or whether he has an ulterior motive for getting so involved in this case.

With a ruthless killer on the loose desperate to shut down the podcast and silence Lucas and Regan for good, can they uncover the secrets of that fateful night? Or will their curiosity about Candace Swain end up costing them dearly?

Allison Brennan certainly knows how to keep her readers turning the pages and The Sorority Murder is a superb thriller that kept me engrossed all through the night. Allison Brennan grabs her readers from the get-go and takes them on a heart-stopping and nerve-jolting journey where the pace never flags, the shocks come thick and fast and the twists and turns will leave them breathless.

The Sorority Murder packs plenty of punch and its beguiling blend of spine-chilling suspense, nail-biting tension and creepy atmosphere continues to cement Allison Brennan’s standing as one of the best writers in the business.
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So – I have a mixed review on this one. I liked it and I enjoyed reading it, but it felt long to me (I just looked – as I read on my kindle – and it’s 448 pages). It felt like I had to keep a lot of characters and events straight in my head, which was sometimes confusing (remember – I often read late at night when I’m tired). So, while I liked it, I do wish it moved a bit quicker and was shorter.

If you like suspenseful murder mysteries, you’ll enjoy this one! I got my copy as part of the Harper-Collins blog tour for this title.
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What a compelling,  engrossing,  mystery! I was riveted from the start, anxious to watch the multiple levels of Mystery play out. Although far from a locked- room trope, it's just as fascinating. 


A kickin' female protagonist,  a bereaved former U.S. Marshal, matches wits with a remarkably cunning and clever manipulator,  a destroyer of lives. Then of course a college student (with his own covert agenda) plays Feckless Hero as he institutes for his Senior capstone project a "true-crime podcast" focusing on a three-year old cold-case. Somebody (multiple) wants to stop the podcast and prevent any further notice of the case.
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Favorite Quotes:

A lie for a good reason is still a lie.

When there is no place to go, you go home.

Regan had to really dig down to dredge up sympathy for her. A pathetic, selfish, sociopath. Maybe she didn’t have any sympathy.


My Review:

I preface my review with the confessions that it has been decades since I stepped on a college campus, I have always had a negative opinion of Greek life, I have never listened to a podcast, and I had to Google what crowdsourcing and capstone projects were. This tense written and slowly developing tale has me convinced that I have become a complete and total goober!  

The writing was tensely emotive and highly evocative although I often felt frustrated with the pacing.  The story seemed to be progressing at a turtles pace with the main characters going off in all directions while battling to gain ground by inches and thwarted from every side.  Yet despite my impatience, I was invested, engaged, and incurably curious and hooked into Allison Brennan’s fiendishly confounding storylines.  

My cuticles became increasingly ragged as I worried for the determined and tenacious young podcaster and spun and discarded my own useless theories.  The reveals exposed events that were realistic and relatable as well as clever with the final chapters being a maelstrom of peril.  Allison Brennan took me down a rabbit hole. I may need to wear gloves for a while…
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Lucas Vega is a criminology student who podcasts about a three year old cold case regarding the death of a campus student for his capstone project. Lucas thinks he's uncovered some new evidence that could generate some new leads on the case.

His advisor hooks him up with Regan Merritt, a former US Marshall who has returned home to Arizona after some family tragedies. She's sharp, she's smart and she's really hurting over all she has lost in her recent past. Missing her work with law enforcement, she agrees to an interview on the podcast which leads to deeper investigation..

As new clues emerge with the help of Regan, lives are in danger.

I thought the premise of this book, that is using the podcast to shake loose some new information was a very interesting concept and that's what made me want to read this book and I think the approach worked well to keep me turning those pages.

I also really liked the relationship between Lucas and Regan. Their casual mentor/mentee relationship was handled well and Regan's past also factored into what made her an interesting character. Things really get going when Regan uncovers why this case is so important to Lucas.

I did have a bit of an issue with the pace of the first 3/4 of this book. It just seemed like reading those pages took so long and I'm a fast reader. The last 1/4 of the book moved along quite well, and really helped to balance the plodding beginning of this story and that made me glad I stuck with it.

So overall, I did like this story and the characters, but wished the beginning was paced a bit faster for this reader. The criminal case was well-formed and presented in a manner that allowed this reader to guess whodunit, and I liked that about it. For these reasons, I'm rating The Sorority Murder four stars.
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In order for a book to be a mystery, it has to include a dead body and a detective – or so I was once told.

The Sorority Murder begins as a cold case, with a dead body three years in the grave, and one determined college student raking up the mystery as part of his capstone project for his degree in criminal justice.

By the end, there are two detectives and a whole slew of dead bodies – pun most certainly intended.

For young Lucas Vega, the case is not about the same victim as the podcast. That’s his secret. He’s attempting to get closure on one young woman’s mysterious disappearance by focusing on another’s equally mysterious death.

Not because he has any inkling that the more recent death is linked to the earlier disappearance. Just that they knew each other. And that someone might know something about what happened to both of them.

For former U.S. Marshal Regan Merritt, the case begins as a way of figuring out what to do with herself in the wake of the death of her 11-year-old son. A boy who was killed not for himself, but as a way to punish Regan for helping to put a criminal behind bars. In the aftermath of such a profound personal loss, she couldn’t focus on a job where a lack of focus could easily get someone else killed. That her husband blamed their son’s death on her, and divorced her as fast as humanly possible in the wake of the tragedy, doesn’t register nearly as high on her scale of loss. But lost she is.

She’s back in Flagstaff, living with her father, the retired county sheriff, because she’s hit emotional bottom and has nowhere else she needs to be or wants to go. She’s in a holding pattern when her former mentor at Northern Arizona University puts her in touch with Lucas Vega.

Her experience and his enthusiasm turn out to be a motivating combination for both of them. Because he’s learned just enough about the inconsistencies in the investigation of Candace Swain’s death to intrigue Regan, and she’s more than enough of a professional investigator to get him started asking questions that should have been asked – and just plain weren’t.

But the problem with reopening the proverbial can of worms is that you can never get the worms back in the same size can.

Someone went to a great deal of trouble to make sure that the investigation of Candace Swain’s death went cold and stayed that way. Someone has a lifestyle they want to protect – at all costs. They don’t want anyone to stir this hornet’s nest. But Lucas’ podcast series has that nest well stirred.

Now that the case is no longer cold, someone has to make sure that all the investigative trails lead to dead ends. Threatening to turn Lucas Vega’s capstone into an early grave.

Escape Rating B+: What I loved about The Sorority Murder was the way that the story delved deeply into the painstaking process of the investigation. The case is cold, mistakes were made, and no one wants to dig this mess back up and expose those mistakes to the light of day.

But Lucas can’t let go, for reasons that neither we nor Regan discover until very late in the investigation. His motives are complex but not in the least sinister, and the case he really wants to reopen turns out to be more relevant than even he imagined when he began.

This isn’t a case of miscarriage of justice – rather it’s a case where justice wasn’t done at all. There’s a mystery. At first, the mystery is where Candace Swain spent the week before her death, because she wasn’t held prisoner, she wasn’t ill, she wasn’t on drugs, she wasn’t seen – and she wasn’t found where she was killed.

Something doesn’t add up. The police blamed her death on a missing homeless alcoholic – but they haven’t found him, either.

What’s strange is that Candace’s friends and most especially her sorority sisters, with whom she was reported to be very close, don’t seem to want the case reopened. They don’t have closure and seem to be adamantly opposed to getting it. All of them. Collectively.

In spite of the roadblocks put in his path, Lucas knows he has too much to let go of. Someone must have seen Candace during that week she was missing but not yet dead. Once people start remembering the little details that no one ever asked about, a picture starts to form.

The biggest part of this story, and the most fascinating one for this reader, was the dogged pursuit of the whole of that picture. Even as one person who provides a bit of a clue after another ends up dead either just before or just after their piece is revealed.

I loved the fits and starts of the investigation. Watching them uncover the puzzle pieces bit by bit kept me glued to the book almost right up to the end. The whole picture, once it was uncovered, still took me by surprise.

I have to say that the reveal of the killer felt a bit flat – or the killer was so far over the top that I didn’t quite buy it. Or that we got to see inside the killer’s head at that point and I just didn’t want to be anywhere near there.

So I was at the edge of my seat with this story until the very end. I loved following the investigation even though I found the actual perpetrator to be off in “bwahaha” land a bit. I still felt utterly compelled to reach that end.

I picked this up because I loved the author’s Tell No Lies last year and hoped for more of the same. While this wasn’t quite that, it was still, most definitely a riveting and suspenseful read.
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