The Lily Cafe is thrilled for the opportunity to participate in the book blog tour for Tell No Lies by Allison Brennan! Thank you to Justine Sha at MIRA for both the opportunity and a review e-copy.
Title: Tell No Lies
Author: Allison Brennan
Publication date: March 30, 2021
Genre: Mystery and Thriller
New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan’s newest thriller again features an edgy young female LAPD detective and an ambitious special agent, both part of a mobile FBI unit that is brought in to investigate the unsolved murder of a college activist and its alleged ties to high stakes crime in the desert Southwest.
Something mysterious is killing the wildlife in the desert hills just south of Tucson, Arizona. When Emma Perez, a college-intern-turned activist, sets out to collect her own evidence, she too ends up dead. Local law enforcement seems slow to get involved. That’s when the mobile FBI unit goes undercover to infiltrate the town and the copper refinery located there in search of possible leads. Costa and Quinn find themselves scouring the desolate landscape that keeps on giving up clues to something much darker—greed, child trafficking, other killings. As the body count continues to add up, it’s clear they have stumbled on more than they bargained for. Now they must figure out who is at the heart of this mayhem and stop them before more innocent lives are lost.
Brennan’s latest novel brims with complex characters and an ever-twisting plotline, a compelling thriller that delivers.
It started with the murder of a college activist, but Kara Quinn and Matt Costa quickly discover there’s a lot more going on in Patagonia, Arizona than meets the eye. Initially called in to go undercover and figure out who killed Emma Perez, FBI agent Costa’s Mobile Response Team quickly zooms in on the local copper refinery and stumbles upon signs of human trafficking. As quiet and small as Patagonia is, there’s a lot hiding under the surface. I can’t say I was a huge fan of the first book in the series, The Third to Die, but I was still interested to find out what was next for Kara and Matt. Honestly, I think it’s these two that keep me reading. I love them!
Almost Too Many Lies Going Around
Emma Perez is a college intern with the Arizona Resources and Environmental Agency who starts noticing a lot of dead birds. Determined to figure out what is killing them, she and her boyfriend start hunting, only for Emma to end up dead. With local law enforcement unable to adequately solve the murder, the FBI’s Mobile Response Team is called in, and they quickly start eyeing the local copper refinery. Something is a little off with the company and they’re the only plausible source of whatever is poisoning the water.
With Kara undercover in the town to be Matt’s eyes and ears and Michael undercover within the refinery and Zach madly scrambling for financial documents, they quickly uncover something amiss at Southwest Copper, a family owned and run business, and a lot of strange characters floating through the bar Kara works at. It doesn’t take long for them to discover something is definitely afoot as well, as signs of human trafficking. The only question is: how is it all related and how is it related to Emma’s murder?
Tell No Lies definitely has a lot of lies going around! There are so many pieces to this puzzle, almost too many. I was a little dizzy just from reading it because it felt like something new was dropping into my lap every time I picked up the book. It helped that it was all centered around a small town, but, wow, the secrets one town and one family could hold!
I must say, the story felt like the weakest part to me. There was simply too much going on and I was disappointed that solving the murder, for as much as it was put right at the front, was actually shoved to the back burner. Of course, I understand why, but I do wish it had been a more major piece of the story. Instead, it felt like the vehicle for getting the FBI to come in and discover even more, bigger illegal things going on. It was really difficult to follow exactly what was going on for most of the book because there was just so much going on. With three major things running through and being somehow connected, I think it very nearly broke my mind.
But, I do have to admit that it kept me intrigued. I really wanted to find out how it was all connected. This is a fast-paced story taking place over a rather small window of time. There’s a great deal of danger surrounding all of the characters and definitely more secrets than I could count. Even though the first book dealt with a rather scary serial killer, I felt this case was even more dangerous. For one, there were too many pieces. For another, all the pieces kept moving, and more danger kept being added.
Overall, it felt a little messy with so much going on, but it definitely upped the sense of danger and press for time!
A Prickly, but Fun Relationship
Tell No Lies picks up a few months after The Third to Die, so Kara is newly added to Matt’s team and their prickly, complicated relationship is even more complicated by the fact that Matt is now Kara’s boss, and Kara really doesn’t like to work as part of a team.
I truly love Kara and Matt. Their relationship is something of a roller coaster, but I love that they work hard to put their case above their complicated relationship. I’m in no rush to see them together because the tension between them is so much fun. Kara is used to working on her own, but she really tries her best to work with the rest of the team. She’s smart and savvy with a soft heart that’s well-protected. Matt is straight-laced and tries really hard to keep things focused. He’s in charge, so a lot is riding on him and his decisions, but he also comes off as really noble to me. That’s one thing I really liked about these two: they really do their jobs well. Even if they differ on how to solve a case.
Outside of Kara and Matt, though, I had a tendency to mix up all of the other characters. Whether they were members of Matt’s team or employees of the refinery or members of the gang trafficking people, I really had a hard time keeping them straight and how they were or were not connected. What I did really enjoy, though, was just how terrible and manipulative the one behind it all really was. That character was brilliant and so consistent in their characterization, right up to the end. The thing that bothered me the most, though, were the characters more strongly connected to Emma’s case. They were kind of, sort of, there. If they were present, it felt more like they were doing little more than hovering at the edges to remind readers there’s still a murder case investigation going on.
A Small Arizona Town
Tell No Lies is set in and around Patagonia, Arizona and a bit in Tucson. Just like the small town featured in The Third to Die, Patagonia gives off the small town vibe in spades. It was large enough that not everyone knew all of each other’s business, but small enough that everyone was, more or less, connected.
There’s also a wide wilderness surrounding Patagonia, which was perfect in so many ways for all the story threads running through this book. It definitely felt very isolated and had the perfect desert atmosphere with sudden storms and flash flooding. I had a clearer vision of what the wilderness looked like than Patagonia, though.
But I liked Patagonia. It felt cozy enough to feel safe so that the danger around the corner was fully highlighted. There’s a lot going on under the surface and it was so at odds with what felt like a close-knit town that it added a really fun layer of tension.
Almost Too Much, But Really Great Lead Characters
Tell No Lies has so much going on in it that I sometimes felt dizzy while reading it. One thing stacked up on another and then another thing was dropped on top. Halfway through I still had no idea where it was going and how it could all possibly be tied together. I was disappointed that every piece of it wasn’t fully explored, that they came and went as the story demanded, but I was satisfied by the end and thought it all tied together quite smartly. The highlight of this series for me is definitely Kara and Matt, though I’m also learning to enjoy all the sudden twists and turns.
How many cups of tea will you need?
About Allison Brennan
ALLISON BRENNAN is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over thirty novels. She has been nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison lives in Arizona with her husband, five kids and assorted pets.
Follow Allison Brennan
Thank you to Justine Sha for a review copy and the opportunity to take part in the book blog tour for Tell No Lies. All opinions expressed are my own.