Cover Image: The Sorority Murder

The Sorority Murder

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Member Reviews

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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Lucas Vega is determined to figure out what happened with Candace Swain. She was murdered when he was a freshman at NAU and now is he doing his senior capstone as a podcast to find out what really happened to her. She was missing a week before her body was found. Even though she was found in the lake, her lungs were filled with chlorinated water. Where was she during that week? Did anyone see her? He's enlisted the help of formal US Marshal Regan Merritt and together they are working hard to solve this cold case. He's been trying to hear from her sorority sisters in Sigma Rho, but they have been silenced. Will he find the answers he is looking for?

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this title.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I was invested in the story and I wanted to know what happened to Candace. The deeper he dug, the more people that ended up dying or getting hurt. Where was Candace during the week she was missing? What was tearing her up inside that she felt so guilty about? There are a million questions that had to be answered and roadblocks around every turn. While there was a slight twist to the story, I could see it coming. It didn't take away from the story at all.

There was a quote in the book, that I really loved, "'God made us stewards of the earth, which means more than taking care of what's yours. Give more than you expect to receive, and be thankful for every day you draw breath ...'" This really touched me because we never know what is going on in someone else's life. Tomorrow is never promised and we have to be thankful for each day that we are given a chance to be alive.

This is a book I will recommend to others.

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This is an interesting mystery that I largely enjoyed but did find that it got bogged down in minutiae that didn’t matter. The cold case of who killed Candace and what she was doing the week before she was killed was engaging and compelling. I really enjoyed seeing all the pieces slowly unravel and the brief flashbacks that we got of Candace during the lead up to her murder were some of my favorite moments. The big selling point for me was the podcast element of this story and I think that was also a high point of the story. The podcast helped the pacing of the story stay consistent since our protagonists, Regan and Lucas, are working off of what they just learned from people calling in during the episode . It helped to break up the many aspects to Candace’s murder and each reveal that happened was compelling and satisfying.

However, the weakest parts of this story were the characters. There was just way too much detail about their lives that I found irrelevant. This is a pretty substantial book at almost 450 pages and I don’t think all of it was necessary to tell the story. I went into this book thinking it was a standalone and while reading it I became convinced that it is the first book in the series. I have tried to look it up to see if it is but I can’t find anything which is confusing. There is so much backstory give to our heroine, Regan, that it seems pointless to keep bringing aspects of it up if it’s not going to lead to anything. It got to the point where when the characters weren’t focusing on solving the case that I found myself wanting to skip through. Which is a personal thing and is probably due to me connecting more with Candace then either Lucas or Regan.

I don’t know how many casual readers of the mystery genre would appreciate this book since it doesn’t completely focus on the mystery. If you are like me and love the slow unraveling of an engaging mystery than I do recommend this. I also think it takes a talented writer for me to mourn a character that I know going into the story is not alive. But in the small pieces of Candace that we got to see she was hands down my favorite character and for that reason I think this book will stick with me for a long while.

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True to form, Allison Brennan has penned another intriguing mystery that kept the pages turning late into the night. With true crime podcasts being all the rage these days, The Sorority Murder is certainly relevant and none too hard to believe as the story progresses. It is a stretch of suspension of disbelief toward the end, but that didn't hinder my curiosity about the story's secrets. I will say this one has a bit of a slow start, but once things pick up, it all moves at a fast pace. I liked the tension of the story and trying to solve the mystery before the reveal, so it certainly made for entertaining reading. Lucas took me some time to warm up to, but part of that may be knowing he was keeping secrets. That said, I really liked Regan right from the start. She's an interesting character that would make for a fun series, and I hope to see more of her. Slow start or not, this one ended up being a page-turner and is one to check out if you enjoy thrillers and true crime podcasts.

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Allison Brennan has a gift when it comes to writing. She is able to bring reader into her world of mysteries and mayhem
The Sorority Murder could come off the headlines of the newspaper with a Lucas and his Podcast looking for who murdered a woman. In hopes of finding answers Lucas only uncovers more than expected of Candace's secret life.
This is a can't miss Allison Brennan story that read will not regret reading.
Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of The Sorority Murder.

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Murder Mystery and who done it.

Candace Swain goes missing after a sorority party and is found dead a week later. What has she been doing and where has she been? 3 years later, Lucas Vega starts a podcast to try to solve the "cold case". Lucas hopes with the information he has, callers will fill in the missing pieces. What is his motive in solving the case? Is it really about Candace?

Regan Merritt, an ex US Marshall gets involved in the podcast. Lots of information comes to light but it isn't until the end when you figure out who, what , why and how! There is so much more to the story than just the murder of Candace.

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I think a lot of readers will have some issues with The Sorority Murder, particularly with the large amount of dialogue, but I actually very much enjoyed it. In terms of the plot, it was certainly intriguing. I love any story to do with podcasts or streaming, and this aspect always adds another element to a thriller plot.

I think the writing style was the biggest let down of the book, in that it was dialogue heavy. Everything was discussed between characters and there was little room for description or much prose at all. I didn’t actually mind this, as I found it worked well with the podcast element, but I know that some readers will be put off. I don’t particularly like my thriller books to include too much description anyway, although admittedly a little more wouldn’t have hurt.

I really enjoyed following the mystery along with the characters and trying to figure out what had gone on at this university. It was a lot of fun, and by the end the reveals felt very satisfying.

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I'm a huge fan of Allison Brennan and I was very excited to read this new thriller.
A podcaster investigating a crime, member of a sorority that could hide secrets, a former marshal still grieving the murder of her son.
A small town, plenty of secrets and a lot of people who could be involved and guilty.
It was a gripping and riveting read, I was hooked since the first pages and couldn't stop reading till the last pages.
There's a lot of unexpected turns, a twisty and dark plot, a solution that was not a surprise but somehow surprised me.
It's an excellent thriller and I would be glad to read other stories featuring these characters.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to MIRA and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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The Sorority Murder is a stand alone mystery involving Lucas, s forensics college student and Regan, a former US Marshal. They team up to solve the cold case of the murder of Candace Swain three years earlier. Using his podcast to get the public's input may put him and Candace's former sorority sisters in danger.

I really enjoy this one. It's a solid mystery that kept me guessing up until the reveal. I loved Regan's character. She spent the book working though the death of her son, but it didn't get in the way of her investigating the case in front of her. She was just such a likable character and very smart detective. I She was a great mentor for Lucas. I also liked the other characters in her inner circle such as her father. It's a shame this is a stand alone because I would love to see her in more mysteries. I highly recommend this one.

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A sorority party, the Sigma Rho Spring Fling, leads to the death of Candace Swain who was a student at Northern Arizona University (NAU) and was always involved in helping others. Her body was found in a lake on a golf course. Three years later Lucas Vegas, a forensics student on campus, has started a podcast called the Sorority Murder. His project is on Candace’s disappearance and death, and he's hoping to use crowdsourcing as an aid to finding out what happened to her before she was killed and why ended up dead. Helped by Regan Merrit, a former US Marshall and a graduate of the NAU, dual majoring in criminology and criminal justice and psychology, they begin to piece together what happened along with the callers from the podcast.

The two leading characters Regan and Lucas are stellar and unique in this thriller. Regan is trying to deal with the break-up of her marriage and the death of her son and has come back to her hometown, Flagstaff. Her story is compelling and Lucas has a reason for his obsession with Candace and for hoping to solve the murder. I also liked Lizzy Choi, Lucas's super smart friend who provides encouragement and pep talks and assists with the airing of the podcast to listeners on campus. A fight for justice and redemption, this was an excellent story with engaging characters and a fast-paced and twisty plot. Another winner from Allison Brennan, for sure!

A special thank you to MIRA Books and the author for a complimentary copy of this novel at my request received via NetGalley. This review is my unbiased opinion.

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The Sorority Murder is a gripping novel of loyalty, betrayal, and murder from Allison Brennan.

For his college Capstone Project, Forensics student, Lucas Vega has launched a podcast in the hopes of solving the cold case murder of popular nursing student, Candace Swain. Three years ago Candace left the Sigma Rho Spring Fling after an argument with a few of her sorority sisters, and disappeared, her body was discovered a week later in a nearby lake. The podcast isn’t gaining the traction Lucas hoped, even with some bombshell revelations, until his advisor connects him with former US Marshall, Regan Merritt. As listeners finally begin to respond to his pleas for information, Lucas and Regan attempt to make sense of the secrets they uncover, but someone is determined that the truth remain buried, even if it means more die.

Though the story is a little slow to get moving, I soon found myself engrossed in The Sorority Murder. The mystery surrounding the disappearance and murder of Candace is intriguing. Though the police believe an alcoholic, homeless vet known to trespass on the University grounds is likely responsible, as additional details surface, it becomes clear that the circumstances of the crime don’t support the theory.

Short diary entries by Candace placed through the narrative hint at a dark secret she carried, which Lucas and Regan slowly piece together, bringing them closer to exposing the killer. I had an inkling of the ‘who’ early on, that was proved correct, though I didn’t fully grasp the ‘why’ until Brennan chose to reveal it. There’s not a lot of suspense in the novel until Lucas begins receiving threats, and then the tension rises sharply when another young woman dies.

Lucas is an appealing character, while his motive for the Sorority Murder podcast isn’t quite as it seems, his intentions are good, he’s just a bit naive to the realities of what he is trying to achieve. Former US Marshal Regan Merritt tends to overshadow Lucas once she is introduced. She’s a more well rounded and capable character, and I found her, and her backstory, to be interesting. There is a suggestion that The Sorority Murder will be the first in ongoing series to feature Regan, which I think could work well.

Entertaining and absorbing, I enjoyed The Sorority Murder.

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Candace Swain left a sorority party one night and disappeared into thin air. Since then, Lucas Vega has not forgotten what happened and now three years later, he is doing a podcast for an assignment hoping to find out exactly what happened to Candace that night. When he reaches a dead end, Regan Merritt a former US Marshall steps in to help him. When calls start coming in and letters are sent to them, they know they are on a hot trail to find the killer. Will Lucas finally tell Reagan the secret he is keeping? Can Regan put her own grief aside to help Lucas?
I am a huge fan of Allison Brennan, and I really enjoyed this book. The character of Regan Merritt was written brilliantly, giving us a small glimpse into her life, and leaving the reader wanting more. I really hope this becomes a series! I liked Lucas and how he interacted with Reagan. The mystery was a page turner, but one thing I felt was a little over done was how many times we were reminded of what happened previously with Candaces timeline when she went missing. All in all, though, I am still a huge fan and would love to read Allison’s next book. This book was part of Harlequin Fall 2021 blog tour, and my thanks goes to the publisher for an advanced copy to read and review.

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Podcasts are now the thing with a wide range of interests for a listener. Lucas has a fascination for a cold case disappearance involving Candace Swan. Having new info but no one cares. So a podcast he creates having join him is former US Marshall Regan. It becomes popular but one listener bites the dust. Secrets do abound coming out of hiding. Turn the pages on this now hot case.

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I wanted to like this book, as I am always looking for a new crime thriller series, and I love to get in on the first one to get the full impact. I’m sorry to say that I struggled with this one a bit. For one thing, it took forever to really get going. I understand the need for laying the groundwork, but it was so repetitive that I lost interest. Usually, I avoid other reviews, but in this case, I checked a few out to see if I was missing something or if it was worth it to push through (Hint: It wasn’t just me). However, there were enough people saying it got better that I picked it up again. The second half of the book is definitely MUCH better than the first. Once the podcast gets rolling and the callers begin to factor into the investigation, it became a good page-turner. I liked Regan, and I’m guessing the series might focus on her? I’ll come back to the series for a second try, but I hope that the author gets to the point quicker next time.

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I love murder/crime podcasts so this book really piqued my interest at first. Lucas Vega is trying to find out what happened to sorority girl Candace Swain who was found murdered. He has a personal agenda as to why he’s so invested in Candace’s last few days, and ultimately when that connection and the identity of the killer are known I couldn’t wait to get to the big reveal. As a whole though the book kind of took a while to get through and there seemed to be a lot of stuff that could have been left out but ended up with me being bored and skimming over parts to get answers. Overall the concept was great and I thought the identity of the killer was shocking but I wish it would have been a little more fast paced.

Thank you to Mira Books and Harlequin Trade for my copy and inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

3.5 Stars

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Allison Brennan is quickly becoming a favourite author of mine. Therefore, when the opportunity to read her latest novel came my way, I didn’t hesitate to pick it up. The Sorority Murder delivered an intriguing, complex and slow burn mystery which held me captive from start to finish.

The Sorority Murder introduces Lucas Vega, a student of forensic science. He started a podcast, intending to garner more information regarding the three-year-old murder of nursing student Candace Swain. She was found murdered after mysteriously disappearing a week before  said murder.

On the recommendation of his college advisor, Lucas teams up with former US Marshall Reagan Merritt. With Reagan’s help and expertise, new information came to light and more clues revealed. Soon danger comes knocking as someone is determined to stop the truth from coming to light.

Lucas and Regan made a great investigative team. The concept of using a podcast in solving a cold case intrigued me. Not everyone was on board with the podcast as it opened up old wounds. Despite this, it proved to be an excellent concept as it propelled persons with information to come forward.

Although it didn’t take long to figure out the identity of the villain, putting down the book proved a challenge. Learning about the events leading up to the murder and the motive of the villain drew me in.

I liked how the author portrayed Lucas and Regan. Her portrayal made it easy to understand their motivations and relate to their pain.. Despite dealing with personal tragedies, Regan’s confidence and strength shined throughout the story. Lucas was like a dog with a bone. Even with the threat  of danger, he was determined to uncover the truth. However, in doing so, he ruffled some feathers. I have to admit; I didn’t like the fact he hid the true motive behind the podcast. He had a personal stake in finding the truth, however, he failed to inform Regan of this fact.


I enjoyed Amy McFadden’s narration. I would listen to anything she narrates. She brought each of the characters to life and her tone for each was distinct. Her narration enhanced my enjoyment of the story.


If you are looking for an engaging mystery, then The Sorority Murder will be a great addition to your reading list.

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‘The Sorority Murder’ by Allison Brennan moved a bit slow for me, but I pushed past it and am so glad I did. I loved this book, and it kept me on my toes the entire time. I really loved the podcast angle in the story and thought it was super intriguing and really well done. I really liked protagonist Regan, and thought she and Lucas made a great investigative team. I really hope to see more books with Regan in the future; I feel she has so much more story to give. This made me want to go read more of Brennan’s work, and I really look forward to it. Highly recommend ‘The Sorority Murder!’

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The Sorority Murders is an actual thriller. Not every book listed as one is one. Candace is disappears after a sorority party. She is found dead a weak later. The crime is never solved. Then a fellow student who knew her only a little decides to make a podcast about it to bring attention back to it.

I know. I know! Another book with a podcast. But this one is done differently. Most of the time podcasters are seen as selfish glory hounds looking to make a name for themselves without really caring about honesty or the people involved in these real life crimes. Lucas really seems to want to get this right. His idea is to crowd source the crime. See if anyone knows anything that they haven’t come forward with. He seems to want to help the police. His first two podcasts don’t get much. Not a lot of listeners or call ins. He just makes the sorority mad at him for bringing it all up. Then his advisor brings in a former student who just happens to also be a former US Marshal.

That’s when we find out that this is more Regan’s story than Lucas’s. She is so much more fleshed out and real that I would love to see more of her in future novels. As she starts to investigate, she realizes that there is something Lucas isn’t saying and that there are a lot of people hiding things. They have good reason to as more people seem to be having trouble staying alive. The three year old crime doesn’t seem to be getting solved, so why are people turning up dead.

In The Sorority Murder Allison Brennan does a lot of things right. She touches on the persistent problem of which victims are worthy of attention and which are passed over. Who deserves to be remembered? Highly recommend.

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