Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About Alex Kava

DAMAGED
ONE FALSE MOVE
A PERFECT EVIL
THE SOUL CATCHER
SPLIT SECOND
AT THE STROKE OF MADNESS



Damaged
Copyright © 2010
by Alex Kava
Doubleday

Alex Kava is a master. Her heroine, Special Agent Maggie O'Dell, is one of the classic characters of the thriller genre. Maggie's adventures have taken her to small-town America, and into the Catholic Church, bringing her face-to-face with some sick individuals. But that's her job. She's a criminal profiler. And good at it. Now, in Damaged, Maggie is thrust into the eye of an impending monster hurricane to track down another killer.
Alex Kava has a knack for the macabre. This time she hooks the reader when a fishing cooler is found floating in the Gulf of Mexico filled with a human torso, one foot, and three hands, all tightly wrapped in plastic. Despite the fact that a Category 5 hurricane is just off shore, and headed her way, Maggie is sent to investigate. Resources are limited. All law enforcement is focused on evacuation and emergency preparations. It's Maggie's job to find out what's going on, but when she discovers that the remains belong to a man who mysteriously disappeared weeks earlier, after another hurricane hit on Florida’s Atlantic Ocean side, the real trouble begins.
There's a ton more to this story, but I don't want to give away too much. Let's just say that it's unexpected. Once again Alex Kava has concocted a tale similar to speeding at a hundred miles an hour down a giant slalom course, with all its associated twists and turns. The whole thing starts fast and gets faster. Maggie O'Dell is a brilliant and complicated heroine--at once witty, smart, and detailed, but always highly entertaining. Damaged is a book from a writer who knows how to deliver exactly what readers want. Alex Kava is in the top echelon of suspense masters and this one is not to be missed. — Steve Berry, author of The Templar Legacy

... a briskly paced thriller that delivers several unusual twists. — Oline H Cogdill, McClatchy Newspapers


One False Move
Copyright © 2004
by Alex Kava
Mira Books

Melanie Starks has never lived life by the rules. She and her seventeen-year-old son, Charlie, have been running one con job or another for as long as she can remember, justifying the petty crimes as the necessary survival moves of a single mother. But Melanie is getting sick of that life, and she’s more than a little worried that Charlie is enjoying the high of being a thief just a bit too much.
Then Jared Barnett reappears in her life.
Jared has just gotten out of prison after serving five years of a life sentence for murder. Released on a technicality that by no means proves his innocence, Jared shows up on Melanie’s doorstep. There’s something different about Jared, a dangerous edge that comes from feeling more invincible than ever. He has the perfect plan for a big score and he needs Melanie and Charlie’s help. Deciding this will be the last job she ever pulls, Melanie agrees to Jared’s plan to rob a local Nebraska bank.
But everything goes terribly wrong.
As Melanie waits in a car outside, Jared and Charlie enter the bank. Seconds later, Melanie hears gunfire and both men run out, empty-handed and yelling at her to drive. Refusing to tell her what happened in those few desperate moments, the men have formed a silent bond, one that terrifies Melanie to the core. Because she’s been shut out.
After outrunning a police chase, Melanie, Jared and Charlie take refuge in a remote cabin in the Platte River State Park. They take as hostage its occupant, Andrew Kane, a writer who’s shut himself away to finish his latest novel.
When Melanie learns that six people were shot dead in the bank, she is left to wonder who did what. Who lost control, Jared or Charlie? And why did things turn so bad so quickly? Only one thing is clear: A line has been crossed. Suddenly there’s no turning back, and there is nothing left to lose. — from the publisher

This time, Kava has shelved her series heroine, Maggie O'Dell, for a thriller about a robbery gone sour at a Nebraska bank. In the afterword, Kava says that the plot line was inspired in part by a 2001 Lincoln bank robbery and then influenced by the 2002 botched bank robbery in Norfolk, the deadliest in Nebraska history. ... Since the publication of her first novel, "A Perfect Evil," Kava has become a national best-selling author, but there's still a hometown touch, especially because she has set this novel in Nebraska. — John Keenan, Omaha World Herald

For those looking for another book about the FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell, you'll just have to wait. One False Move isn't it. But Alex Kava ought to depart from her O'Dell series more often if she can turn out a tale as page-turning as this. — Lincoln Journal Star


At Perfect Evil
Copyright © 2001
by Alex Kava
Mira Books

On July 17, convicted serial killer Ronald Jeffreys was executed for three heinous murders. He went to his grave with a terrible truth no one would listen to.
Three months later, another body is found, killed in the same style as Jeffreys' victims.
Is there a copycat killer on the loose? Or is this the real thing?
Sheriff Nick Morrelli isn't equipped to deal with this case that is terrorizing the small, close-knit community of Platte City, Nebraska. Knowing he needs help, he calls in one of the FBI's best criminal profilers, Maggie O'Dell. And with the help of a small-town sheriff who is clearly out of his depths, Maggie starts to put together the gruesome picture of a killer. The picture of someone who has already been executed for his crimes.
When another victim is found and a third kidnapped, Nick and Maggie realize they're running out of time. And the terrible truth begins to become clear. Was Jeffreys convicted of crimes he didn't commit? Or has a cold-blooded killer been given the chance to perfect his crime? — from the jacket

A serial killer eludes an FBI profiler and a smalltown Nebraska sheriff in Kava's engaging debut, which manages to remain entertaining despite a fairly conventional plot line. As the story opens, recently appointed Sheriff Nick Morelli is as relieved as the rest of the citizens of Platte City that his predecessor, who also happens to be his father, has captured the child killer who plagued the town. But after the killer is executed, another child is discovered dead, and Morelli realizes that the convicted man was in fact a copycat killer, leaving the original criminal still on the prowl. Morelli gets some much-needed help in the investigation from FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell, but the hunt gets complicated when Morelli's sister, a journalist, leaks info to the media. Things become even stickier when O'Dell unearths a couple of unlikely suspects who've been dismissed by the police, and the search takes on a new level of urgency when Morelli's nephew is abducted and appears to be the next victim. Kava keeps her prose simple, but she does a nice job of setting up the chemistry between O'Dell and Morelli while balancing the various family issues Morelli faces in the investigation. She also makes good use of the smalltown milieu, tightening the tension by establishing that the killer is part of the fabric of the community. The result is a well-crafted page-turner involving the reader in the specter of murder in an intimate and disturbing fashion, with a plausible setup for a sequel. Agent, Philip Spitzer. — Publishers Weekly

This debut thriller pumps the suspense ... Maggie is gutsy and appealing as an FBI agent facing constant danger. — Library Journal

A roller coaster read. Your heart is in your throat the entire time. — Woman's Own


The Soul Catcher
Copyright © 2002
by Alex Kava
Mira Books

In a secluded cabin in rural Massachusetts, six young men stage a deadly standoff with FBI and ATF agents. When dust from the flying bullets finally settles, three agents are wounded, one fatally, and five suspects are dead.
In a wooded area near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., the body of a senator's daughter is discovered. Dead by strangulation, the young woman is left artfully posed, her clothes folded neatly beside her.
For FBI Special Agent Maggie O'Dell, there is nothing routine about being called in to work these two cases. As an expert criminal profiler, Maggie provides psychological insight on cases that involve suspected serial killers. She can't understand, then, why her boss, Assistant Director Cunningham, has assigned her to these two seemingly unrelated crimes.
But as Maggie and her partner, Special Agent R.J. Tully, delve deeper into the two cases, they learn that there is a connection between the crimes: Reverend Joseph Everett. The charismatic leader of a high-profile religious sect, Everett has cultivated a devoted following that is growing in numbers daily. The young men holed up in the cabin were members of Everett's church, and the murder of the young woman took place following a religious rally Everett held in the capital.
The key to unraveling the significance of these two crimes is Everett himself. But he is untouchable, living on a heavily guarded compound the police are unable to penetrate. Maggie realizes, however, that she may have found a way to get to Everett: by using her own mother, a member of his church.
Is Everett a psychotic madman who uses his position of power to perform heinous crimes? Or is he merely a scapegoat for a killer more cunning, more disciplined than he? Maggie realizes too late that there is more going on here than the FBI ever imagined . . . and her own mother may be about to pay the price. — from the jacket

Kava uses a strong supporting cast to provide Scarpetta-like authenticity and the psychological insights of Alex Delaware, and gross-out levels are high enough to satisfy the Fear Factor contingent. Add to that a clever surprise ending, and this one is sure to be spotted all over the beach by summers end. — Publishers Weekly

A suspense thriller with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing until the last page. — Mystery Scene

Maggie is gutsy and appealing as an FBI agent facing constant danger. — Library Journal

Ms Kava's ... novel is a formidable one, filled with characters comfortable with themselves and acting out their roles intelligently and believably. — Dallas Morning News


Split Second
Copyright © 2002
by Alex Kava
Mira Books
How to Buy

... a roller coaster read. Although your heart is in your throat the entire time, you enjoy every scary minute. — Woman's Own

... first novel is a formidable one, filled with characters comfortable with themselves and acting out their roles intelligently and believably. — Dallas Morning News

A suspense thriller with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing until the last page. — Mystery Scene

Engaging debut ... a well-crafted page-turner ... — Publisher's Weekly

This debut thriller pumps the suspense out ... Maggie is gutsy and appealing as an FBI agent facing constant danger. — Library Journal

Alex Kava has crafted ... a winning character in Agent O'Dell. — Washington Post Book World


At the Stroke of Madness
Copyright © 2003
by Alex Kava
Mira Books

In the tomblike silence of an abandoned rock quarry, someone is trying to hide their dirty little secret. A secret that reveals the depths of human depravity. A secret that is about to be discovered.
When FBI Special Agent Maggie O'Dell receives a call from Sheriff Henry Watermeier of New Haven County, Connecticut, she assumes it's a routine tip. She's working on the case of a missing D.C.-area woman, and it seems her body had been found. But Maggie's about to learn this is just the tip of the iceberg in what will be one of the most bizarre, cold-blooded and confounding cases of her career a a criminal profiler.
During a cleanup excavation in the deserted quarry, a fifty-five-gallon drum was discovered, containing the remains of a woman. Then more barrels are found, containing more bodies: some of the dead have been brutally murdered, and some have already been buried. At this grisly discovery, Sheriff Watermeier calls in the FBI, as well as a forensic anthropologist, Dr. Adam "Bones" Bonzatto, in hopes of identifying the victims and ultimately the faceless killer.
Maggie arrives in Connecticut and begins to profiles the killer -- and quickly recognizes a pattern to his madness. The victim range widely in age and include both men and women, but they have one thing in common: they all suffered from an illness or physical deformity of some sort. And the part of their body that was inflicting is missing. As bizarre as it seems, the killer appears to have a fascination, an obsession with his victims' imperfections.
With only an old man who suffers from Alzheimer's as a witness to the killer's identity, Maggie realizes time is running out. Because another woman has gone missing, and the old man's illness has made him the next target. Determined to put an end to the killing, Maggie has to dig deeper into her own resources than she's ever done before to catch this killer of unparalleled madness. — from the jacket



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