Cover Image: The Sorority Murder

The Sorority Murder

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Member Reviews

This story is set on a college campus in Arizona. The sorority involved closes ranks and refuses to help with podcast. However some of the members want to help and find ways to reach out to Lucas. Lucas also gains the help of an ex-US Marshal who is also the former sheriff's daughter. This combination gives the duo access to information and how to find information. I was hooked from the very beginning of the book. As I read more the more complex the case is and by complex I mean more people are involved than you would think.

Allison Brennan did a wonderful job with developing her characters. I can easily see where the story continues into a series and I can't wait. I want to learn more about certain characters. I also loved how the setting is incorporated into the story. It provides an excellent background for the twists and turns.

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If you like podcasts, cold case mysteries, persistent characters looking for resolution, and a story built on campus life Sorority Murder is a great mystery to set yourself down to read. The first of the two main characters is college student Lucas Vega. He has a major interest in solving the cold case disappearance of Candace Swain a very popular sorority girl now missing for 3 years. It will take you awhile to find out just why he is so interested. He has an approved college project that will bring the missing student to the attention of those who will tune in to his podcast. With the police not interested in what he thinks are relevant tips he invites Regan Merritt a former US Marshall to join him on the podcast. One thing leads to another and you have the 2 characterrs working together and alone trying to find the answers. Having participated in podcasting myself I found from beginning to end Allison Brennan did a great job of bringing the podcast to life so in my mind I heard it like it was on radio. Lots of characters from the sorority house members to the police to town members are pulled into the story and you are drawn into the story trying to figure out how it will all lead to solving the cold case. Characters that seemed to have no reason for being part of the story soon became elements of the story as the suspense develops. It just requires patience just like solving any cold case. A definite good read from a favorite author.

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What's it about (in a nutshell):
The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan is a secret-filled story about a college student's journey to solve a cold case that happened right there on his campus three years ago. By using a limited-time podcast and with the help of Regan Merritt, a former US Marshal, he manages to stir the pot enough to worry someone. Still, will it lead to the answers he is looking for?

What I Enjoyed:
I enjoyed the podcast angle. It's funny because I don't listen to podcasts in my everyday life. Still, I really have enjoyed it when it's used in thriller stories. It's an excellent technique for keeping a story current and telling backstory without becoming overwhelming to the reader and adding too many pages to a book. Also, the podcast can reach many people quickly, which helps the plot stay fast paced and moving forward.

I loved all the many, many secrets and the mysteries within the mystery. These kept the story moving quickly and provided those jaw-dropping moments I adore. As each secret was revealed, a new related mystery popped up. It is amazing how many apples fall out of this particular tree when Lucas starts shaking it. There are so many twists and turns, I had to hold on for dear life.

I enjoyed how sororities are portrayed. Usually, a sorority is represented as a shallow collection of girls. In this story, however, the portrayal is more about the deep friendships formed and how the girls look after one another while in college and even after graduation. Of course, there may be some bad apples in the bunch, but it is a mystery after all, so what fun would it be if there weren't some apples that are rotten to the core.

Lucas Vega is a college student in his senior year. Deciding to do a cold-case podcast for his senior project, he comes across as very heartfelt in his endeavors and the epitome of the stereotypical boy next door. But as the secrets start revealing themselves, will he come out as squeaky clean as he first appeared?

Regan Merritt left her position as a US Marshal when her 10-year-old son was killed in retaliation for one of the cases she worked on. She is asked to help Lucas with his podcast. She soon finds herself wholly entangled in the mystery and revealing the murderer that evaded the police for three years. Her character is particularly well-developed and would make a great lead character in a series (fingers crossed).

What I Wish:
The story is a bit long though it didn't bother me until the end. Once it seemed that all the secrets had been revealed, it felt like the final conclusion dragged on very long. That was quite a shock, considering how fast-paced the story was until that point.

To Read or Not to Read:
If you are looking for a good, solid mystery to make time quickly fly by, The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan is just what you're looking for.

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I'm a long time fan of Allison Brennan. This new series is a fantastic thrill. I can't wait to read more!

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This is a new to me author that I will be reading more from. This book was great. A mystery, thriller, edge of your seat ride. You will wonder and guess who did what to whom throughout.

Three deaths. Three murders. Three attempted murders. All starting with one accident. Could all of this have been avoided? Possibly. But then you would not have the story. This book takes you on a ride that is full of surprises. Full of twists and turns. Keeps you wanting more. Wanting to know who did it. Who could have murdered an innocent young woman. And why. Was she about to reveal someone's deepest secrets? Maybe.

The sorority sisters are a band of very tight friends. Should be forever friends. Always there for each other. No matter what? But something went dreadfully wrong on the night in question. One person left and was never seen alive again. What happened to Candice? What did she know that could have caused someone to hurt her. To take her life. Who was it? Why?

This book did have a few flaws but nothing dreadful. Nothing that takes away from the story at all. It's truly great. One that will have you wanting to find out what comes next. A podcast brings to light new things that happened. Things that the killer is afraid of. Lucas wanted to find out who killed Candace and was willing to do almost anything to find out. He brought to light some things that the killer didn't want anyone to know about. It all lead to an accident that happened six years before.

All of your questions will be answered. You won't be left hanging. This story wraps up so nicely and does not leave you hanging. It leaves no stone unturned. Someone will pay for what they did. Or almost did. Or tried to do. Justice and closer. Maybe these victims families will find that at least. Thanks to Lucas Vega. Without him these deaths may have never been solved. He dug deep and found all he needed along with the help of an ex-marshal, Regan. She worked hard to help solve this case. And to save a few lives.

Thank you #NetGalley, #AllisonBrennan, #HarlequinTradePublishingMIRA for this ARC. This is my own true thoughts about this book.

5/5 stars and a very high recommendation. It's very good and I can't wait for her next book!

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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Sorority Murder

Author: Allison Brennan

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For...: mystery, thriller

Publication Date: December 28, 2021

Genre: Thriller Mystery

Recommended Age: 18+ (violence, gore, language, death)

Explanation of CWs: The book focuses on a murder that happened and it has violence, death, and gore in it. There is also some cursing in it.

Publisher: MIRA

Pages: 448

Synopsis: Lucas Vega is obsessed with the death of Candace Swain, who left a sorority party one night and never came back. Her body was found after two weeks, but the case has grown cold. Three years later while interning at the medical examiner's, Lucas discovers new information, but the police are not interested.

Lucas knows he has several credible pieces of the puzzle. He just isn't sure how they fit together. So he creates a podcast to revisit Candace's last hours. Then he encourages listeners to crowdsource what they remember and invites guest lecturer Regan Merritt, a former US marshal, to come on and share her expertise.

New tips come in that convince Lucas and Regan they are onto something. Then shockingly one of the podcast callers turns up dead. Another hints at Candace's secret life, a much darker picture than Lucas imagined—and one that implicates other sorority sisters. Regan uses her own resources to bolster their theory and learns that Lucas is hiding his own secret. The pressure is on to solve the murder, but first Lucas must come clean about his real motives in pursuing this podcast—before the killer silences him forever.

Review: I loved the premise of this book! I like that the MC has a podcast and that he is into true crime. The book is told in kind of a true crime podcast fashion as well, which is so much fun. I loved how the characters were developed and how the world was built. I also thought the mystery worked well for the most part and the plot kept me interested in the story enough to find out what happened at the end.

However, the pacing is so so slow in this book in the beginning and it picks up in the middle. The book is a bit of an info dump in the beginning, which put me off of it for a bit. The book spends a lot of time going back over old evidence and repeating the same thing over and over again. The ending was also a bit of a letdown and it kind of was outside of the realm of expected.

Verdict: it was good.

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Lucas Vega seems to be a bit obsessed with the death of sorority girl, Candace Swain. Candace was at a party one night and nowhere the next. And while her body was found two weeks later, it was discovered she didn’t drown in the lake she was found in. And she had been alive quite a bit of time.

Now Lucas is creating a podcast for his capstone project and re-opening the case and asking for people to call in with anything they remember about that night. Lucas has a bit more insight into the case as he worked in the medical examiner’s office and knows some unreleased information. But the cops aren’t listening and the Sorority has closed ranks. Threatening any member who talks to him.

When his advisor introduces him to Regan Merritt, a former US Marshall and a mother who recently had her child murdered. She isn’t home to help anyone but herself. However, something about Lucas and his podcast captures her attention. She agrees to be interviewed and review the case.

Then people start dying. Someone is desperately trying to cover something up. And when tips begin coming in they know they have something. Especially when a caller ends up dead. The cops seem to be sketchy as well. With the help of Regan, Lucas may be able to share his own secret and help figure out who is killing people and why?

I enjoyed the way we would hear Rachel’s voice in her journal. There was just enough there to make you wonder. I made a lot of wrong guesses and would never have guessed that ending. What a fresh and twisty new murder mystery to solve.

It kept me up way past my bedtime!

NetGalley/December 28th, 2021 by MIRA

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Lucas decides that his senior project will be to make a podcast, looking into the murder of a sorority girl/fellow student that happened three years ago.

A girl, he happened to know, and see briefly before she went missing and her body was found.
He decides to team up with Regan, a former US Marshall back in town after a tragedy of her own.
The two find that things aren’t as they seem and as they dig deeper. It soon becomes apparent that the more they dig, the more they might be in danger.

There is hardly a true-crime book or podcast out there that I don’t like.
I’m a big fan of novels that use a podcast within to tell part of the story. It’s a great format, when used properly, as it was in this book.

I was compelled to get to the end to see whodunit.
The characters were well rounded, but I wish there was a bit more of their personal lives on the side. BUT, that could just be me because I’m used to reading romance.
That and the pacing being a bit off in the middle were the only negatives.
Overall, this was an quick and exciting read.

Check it out, when it hits shelves, 12/28/21!

A big thanks to the Publisher & NetGalley for gifting me a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Exposing the truth could get you killed.

Big fan of Allison Brennan and how she builds her characters into a thrilling climax.

A sorority party three years ago leads to the death of Candace. She was a shinning light on campus. Always involved in doing good and helping others. Her body was found at an area pond. Enter three years later a podcast called the Sorority Murder is revealing truth that was buried and now being uncovered. Lucas Vegas has a personal connection to the podcast he has started. With the help of Regan Merrit, a on leave US Marshall. They begin to piece together what happened with the interaction of callers from the podcast. Somebody knows something but where it will lead.

The two leading characters Regan and Lucas are two unique driving force in this thriller. Regan just coming from the break up of her marriage and the death of her son comes back to her hometown. Her story is compelling and redemptive. Lucas has a reason for his obsessions for Candance and solving the murder. He has redeeming quality as well. A fight for justice and redemption, you can never go wrong.

A special thank you to Harlequin and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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3.5 stars, rounded up

This is a creative mystery with some good points and a few shortcomings, but the good outweighs the bad overall.

The Good
The main premise of this book is that college student Lucas Vega has started a podcast in order to find more information and possibly solve the disappearance and then murder of Candace Swain three years previously. Candace was a senior nursing student at Northern Arizona University when Lucas was a freshman, and she disappeared after a sorority party and was found dead a week later. The podcast angle is fresh and interesting and done well in the story.

Reagan Merritt, a former US Marshal, home visiting her father in Flagstaff after some devastating personal issues, volunteers as a guest expert on the podcast. She then gets invested in helping Lucas to find out what happened to Candace. I loved her as a character and she added some depth and maturity that the storyline really needed.

Overall the mystery works, it's a bit unbelievable at the end, but for the most part the story kept me interested and wanting to discover the answers. Once the pacing picks up (see below) the book moves rapidly to an exciting conclusion.

The Not-So-Good

The book takes forever to get going. It felt like we were spinning in circles because we went over the same evidence over and over (and over) with each new character's addition, and then Lucas rehashes the same evidence on his podcast. The repetition was grating after a while and threw the pacing completely off. Once things actually start to occur in real time (rather than just Lucas talking about what he knows) and people start coming forward with more clues and information, the pace picks up rapidly and the book becomes much more interesting.

Lucas was difficult for me to like for quite a long time. I knew he must be hiding something from Reagan, but in general he acted like a high school student instead of a college student with some of his antics and ways he was speaking. I wish the author would have made him more intelligent and less hysterical.

**WHY oh why do these authors insist on having characters with similar names? In this book we have Rachel and Reagan. Argh, it was difficult to keep them straight sometimes, I had to go back and re-read certain sections to figure out who was in the scene. ** There are a MILLION names out there, why pick ones that are SO similar?

Overall, this is an engaging mystery if you realize that the beginning is going to be a bit slow. I really hope Brennan brings Reagan back in the future, she's a complex character with a lot to add to mystery investigations.

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Thank you to NetGalley, Allison Brennan and Harlequin Publishing for the free e-book in exchange for an honest review.

I have always loved Brennan's writing and this novel really reminded me why. I loved the podcast aspect of this one and having a college and a ex-marshal trying to solve the crime really made it so interesting. This was action packed and totally enthralling the whole way through. I cruised through this one, even reading it in the Tim's drive thru to find out what was going to happen. Definitely an unputdownable thriller that you will love right until the last page.

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I thought this book started out slow. I’m not a big fan of podcasts so I found that part of the book boring. Of course I know it helps with the story. I enjoyed the last half of the book so much more. It moved faster and really kept my interest. I really liked Regan’s character and think she would make a good series.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy

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Since I am a huge fan of this author, I expected nothing less than perfection from her for a murder mystery, and I was certainly not disappointed. The plot was complicated mixed with the simple premise that a girl from Northern Arizona University was murdered and her killer was still on the loose, a homeless man who had been seen on campus before Candace disappeared and then ended up dead. Lucas Vega, a forensics student on campus, is doing a final “Capstone” project on Candace’s disappearance and death, hoping to use crowdsourcing as a means to find out what happened to her before she was killed and why she ended up dead. The clues are forthright and easy to follow, but the mystery itself was complex as bodies continue to pile up. When Lucas seeks the help of former U.S. Marshal Regan Merritt, the action ramped up as did the danger to those seeking the truth. There were a lot of themes in the book, most importantly one of friendship and being careful whom you choose to be your friends. There were also sub-themes of compassion and closure for families suffering loss as well as grief over lost loved ones. This was a deep book that had me engrossed from beginning to end, captured by the realistic characters and their quest for justice. I particularly enjoyed the character of Regan, as she is multi-layered and trying to find where she belongs now that she has quit the Marshal service. I also liked the way the story unfolded gradually, with plenty of mystery and mayhem happening along the way. All in all, this was my favorite mystery that I have read this year and it will be hard (if not impossible) to top it!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

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The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan is a standalone suspense novel. The story starts off with a podcast of a cold case, with Lucas Vegas (a criminology student), concentrating on the unsolved three-year disappearance and murder of student Candace Swain. The police suspect a homeless man of killing Swain, with the man never found; but Lucas believes otherwise, and asks those who remember anything of the murder to call into the podcast. Lucas tries to put some pieces together, but with the recommendation of his advisor, he convinces former US Marshall Regan Merritt, who has just returned to visit her father, to join the podcast and use her expertise to help him in putting the pieces together.

Regan left her job, after the terrible death of her young son; and stays with her father; the case does get her attention, and she and Lucas work well together. Soon the podcast opens a can of worms, with many members of the Sorority not happy to have this opened again, especially with some of them calling in new information anonymously. After a few days of the podcast, Regan warns Lucas to keep his eyes open, and lock all doors, since the podcast seems is opening long-buried secrets. Regan is an excellent investigator, using her expertise to interview former and current students; unraveling truths from the past, and she is mostly the lead in this story, working with Lucas.

What follows is an exciting, chilling, action packed adventure that had me unable to put the book down. When someone is found dead, and other attempts to stop the podcast, Regan begins to suspect someone, but cannot prove anything; she also learns from Lucas, another reason he was determined to open this cold case, which did lead to Swain’s murder. Regan escalates her investigations, and worries that with the attacks on some sorority sisters, Lucas could very well be in danger.

The last third of the book had me on the edge of my seat, as the tension increases and lives are on the line. The Sorority Murder was an exciting, fascinating story, wonderful heroine, great secondary characters and wild climatic ending. If you enjoy suspense, whodunit, murder mystery, you should read Sorority Murder, which was very well written by Allison Brennan.

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3 Stars

I had very high hopes for this book when I picked it up. A student at University of Arizona, decides to create a podcast of an unsolved murder, as his senior capstone project. A sorority sister that went missing for 9 days and was later found dead in a lake. I loved the premise : a cold case, a sorority and all of it's secrets, and a non-linear timeline. I found the characters intriguing, a former US Marshal, that's a woman. Super cool!

The writing was a bit repetitive and drawn out. There were many complexities through out the story, but I felt as though they could have been brought about in a more succinct fashion. I also believe that some of the writing was clunky and needed to be edited a bit, but I read an advanced copy, so hopefully some of it is cleaned up prior to the final copy.

A special thank you to NetGalley, Harlequin Trade Publishing, and Allison Brennan for providing me with an ARC.

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This is one of my favorite authors but it isn’t a favorite book. The story was interesting but I couldn’t get really interested. Days could go by without me reading it and that was unusual. The characters were interesting.

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Solid Mystery That Could Have Used Better Pacing. Reading through the other Goodreads reviews on this one, a common complaint is the pacing and bloat of this book - and I tend to agree, to a point. There was in fact a lot of going over the same facts of the case, and that probably added a solid 20 pages to the length of this book just in that fact alone. But it wasn't something that I particularly noticed while reading, and indeed while reading I thought this was a truly solid use of an emerging technique to solve cold cases. And while the body count may seem a bit high for a town with less than 80K (real-world) people, a quick Google shows that it actually isn't outside the realm of reality, even this Millenium (when until recently, violent crime was plummeting across the nation). It does in fact read a bit as a setup for a potential series with our former US Marshal investigator here, and it could actually be an interesting series if that is the case. Overall an interesting and compelling mystery that will keep you guessing until it wants to reveal it secrets - and then transitions into a bit more of an action/ suspense tale to finish up the case. Very much recommended.

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✨ The Title/Cover Draw:
I like dark academia and this one also talked about a true crime podcast.

💜 What I liked:
The story was woven together, told through jumps to the past as well as journal entries. It was a solid murder mystery with a few twists.

😱 What I didn’t like:
I think I expected to connect to the characters more in this book. A lot of the same information is repeated which causes it to drag, considering it’s a long book already. However, I did enjoy the read overall.

🚦 My face at the end: 🤓

💭 3 Reasons to Read:
1. Sorority Life
2. True Crime Podcast
3. Cold case disappearances

🕧 Mini-Summary:
Lucas is trying to figure out how a senior died 3 years ago by doing a true crime capstone project for graduation.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Received from Netgalley.

💯 For more details on the books we read, be sure to follow me on TikTok (@zaineylaney) or check out our Podcast - Elated Geek!

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This was a very entertaining thriller. Lucas Vega has chosen to look into the murder of fellow student Candace Swain for his capstone project. He has recruited Lizzy Choi to be his producer. And his advisor introduces him to former US Marshal Regan Merritt who's on campus doing a guest lecture who might be willing to be a guest on his podcast.

Lucas knew Candace Swain. She was his writing tutor when he was a freshman and she a senior. As a forensics major, he had interned at the coroner's office and read the autopsy reports which raise interesting questions. Sure, Candace disappeared after her sorority's Spring Fling, but she didn't die for nine days after that. What was she doing during those nine days?

Regan, who is back in Flagstaff dealing with her grief at the death of her ten-year-old son and the end of her marriage, becomes intrigued with what Lucas has found. Besides, helping him with help take her mind off her loss and give her some purpose while she tries to come up with a plan for the rest of her life.

The story shifts in time from three years earlier at the time of Candace's death and the present. It includes excerpts from Candace's secret diary which gradually relay why she was so troubled in the days leading up to her death.

Meanwhile in the present, old witnesses are interviewed again for Lucas's podcast and new witnesses are discovered. And the killer is killing again to keep the events of three years ago secret.

This was an excellent story with engaging characters and a fast-paced and twisty plot.

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The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan is a new standalone suspense novel. Lucas Vega has decided to make his senior capstone project a podcast to uncover the truth of a unsolved cold case involving one of the sorority sister’s murder at his own university. Lucas finds it harder than expected to get anyone to open up but with the assistance of former US Marshall Regan Merritt the case gets blown wide open in unexpected and dangerous ways.

This story combined two things I enjoy tremendously, podcasts and true crime. I found the formatting around the episodes to be a unique approach to presenting the information but tedious at the same time because there was so much recap between the characters uncovering a lead and then having it included on a podcast episode. The story moved in a non-linear timeline that felt jarring. The mystery itself kept me interested as it unraveled even if I did feel like I was reading the same thing over and over. The action picked up substantially keeping the reader engaged and concerned about the main characters Lucas and Regan. I did appreciate that the mystery had layers that were uncovered through thorough investigation and took turns that I wasn’t expecting.

3 stars for a mystery that shows the past can always come back to haunt you.

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