Good but too long, entertaining but incredible, not necessarily an improvement on a frequent female-investigator formula.
Compulsion is my first Allison Brennan novel and my first impression of the book, while it was in the building phase, was that it was good. Max is an investigative reporter who is convinced that a serial killer on trial for murdering six-ish (I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine since finishing the book and the numbers are hazy, pardon me) women had a partner. The plot is essentially Max trying to unravel the mystery of the killer’s theoretical partner while “unwittingly” placing herself at the center of the killer’s focus.
Let me start with what I like about this book: There is a well conceived mystery plot with plenty of action, twists and turns interspersed in the pages to keep things interesting. I like a mystery that goes beyond just a good ol whodunit and ventures into psychological thriller territory. We definitely get that from Compulsion. Another thing I like about this book is the rotating perspectives. This book is written in a third person POV but it shifts between characters which gives the readers a fuller view of the story and a better chance to guess what is really going on. If you’ve read anything by Lisa Jackson or Lisa Gardner, this book is somewhere between the writing style of those two authors.
What I didn’t like about this book was Max. I have a serious aversion to the fearless female character prototype who recklessly confronts every danger like her a-s is made of Teflon. Max was running around in this book staring down killers, hounding law enforcement officials and venturing into dark abandoned buildings as if she had been drinking vampire blood and was indestructible. I get that she is supposed to be the “tenacious” heroine but I HATE that tenacity in a female character is often depicted as good ol fashioned stupidity. If Max were a law enforcement character who carried a gun or, I don’t know, was like trained in self defense, I would have found her behavior more palatable. What I have a hard time swallowing or enjoying is a character who has no means of defending themselves and no plan running head first into a burning building where a masked killer is waiting outside with an ax. That exact thing didn’t happen in this book but you get where I’m going with this. To add insult to injury, when Max is really in trouble she has to be rescued by a bevy of male heroes. Feminism aside, I’m all for some hunk of a man charging in and saving the day but the number of times Max stupidly got herself into a bind so she could be saved by a long list of tolerant/adoring male supporting characters gave me indigestion.
Finally, I didn’t really understand why the author built in information about the characters’ past. I don’t know that it did anything for the mystery plot line and it added too many pages to the book. I usually don’t complain about book length because if an author wants to give us more bang for our buck, why not let them? In this case, however, the book really was a bit too long in that some of the pages seemed just unnecessary.
Last impressions: I liked the mystery even though it was a little predictable, I hated Max and I would purchase another Allison Brennan novel because the writing was good.
**ARC provided by Publisher**