A Perfect Evil, by Alex Kava

>> Friday, November 23, 2012

TITLE: A Perfect Evil
AUTHOR: Alex Kava

PAGES: 461

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Romantic suspense
SERIES: Starts the Maggie O'Dell series

A killer is watching...

The brutal murders of three young boys paralyze the citizens of Platte City, Nebraska. What's worse is the grim realization that the man recently executed for the crimes was a copycat. When Sheriff Nick Morrelli is called to the scene of another grisly murder, it becomes clear that the real predator is still at large, waiting to kill again.

Morreli understands the urgency of the case terrorizing his community, but it's the experienced eye of FBI criminal profiler Maggie O'Dell that pinpoints the true nature of the evil behind the killings -- a revelation made all the more horrific when Morrelli's own nephew goes missing.

Maggie understands something else: the killer is enjoying himself, relishing his ability to stay one step ahead of her, making this case more personal by the hour. Because out there, watching, is a killer with a heart of pure and perfect evil.
This audiobook was a random pick at the library, since I'd heard Kava's name before and the plot sounded like it could be interesting.

Five years earlier, a serial killer terrorised Platte City, Nebraska, targetting little boys. After three were killed, the cops caught Ronald Jeffreys, who promptly confessed to one of them. However, he claimed he'd had nothing to do with the other two. As the book starts, Jeffreys is executed.

Mere weeks later, another little boy disappears from Platte City. The cops, headed by Sheriff Nick Morelli, assume it's a custody dispute, and look for the kid's father. Until, that is, someone finds the boy's body, and the way he was killed is eerily similar to the earlier cases. To Nick, it's clearly a copycat, and he calls in an FBI profiler, Agent Maggie O'Dell.

The characters were actually quite interesting. Maggie is still psychologically recovering from a particularly gruelling and traumatic case, and her marriage is crumbling. Nick is a relatively new sheriff, and he only took up the post because his dad (the previous sheriff, and the man who he soon suspects screwed up in the Jeffreys case) pressured him into it. He is quite clearly out of his depth here, and he knows it. This is not one of those books where the sheriff resents having an outsider butting into his case. Nick is grateful to have Maggie there, which I thought was refreshing.

There's the attraction between them, as well, which when I stopped reading at the halfway mark, they were both still resisting. Maggie's marriage was clearly over long before she met Nick, so I didn't have a problem with this element, and would have been interested to see where it went.

The problem was, the way the investigation was conducted drove me crazy. Man, what utter idiots! At the point where I stopped, which was basically around the halfway mark, Maggie has just been on the phone with a person she's pretty sure knows who the killer is. This person works with the man who, in Maggie's mind, is increasingly looking like her main suspect. So, they're on the phone, and Maggie hears a couple of clicks, and correctly deduces that someone is listening in. The man tells her that he's willing to give her certain important information. Since they're being overheard, Maggie puts him off, and arranges to meet him that afternoon. I just could not believe what I was reading. She might as well have painted a target on the poor man's forehead. I'm pretty sure that man won't make their meeting later in the day. Of course, I might be wrong, but to be honest, it's not so much about the consequence of Maggie's actions, but her sheer stupidity, so I don't care how it turns out.

I gave up on the book because this was yet another of a long line of scenes where I was practically screaming at the characters "You should be doing X!!! Why on earth aren't you doing X?" X being the logical response to that given situation, the one that anyone with half a brain, let alone 8 years of experience as a profiler, should do. I like to apply a modified version of the What Would Nora Do? rule to romantic suspense: the What Would Eve Dallas Do? rule. The answer, in this case, is that if Nick and Maggie worked for Eve, she would fire their asses.

MY GRADE: It was a DNF.

AUDIOBOOK NOTES: This one was narrated by Richard Rowan, it's this version. It was ok. The voice he did for Nick felt a little bit off for the character, but it wasn't too bad. So, not great, but nothing that overly bothered me, either.


Wendy 24 November 2012 at 16:32  

Back in my TRR/TMR days I reviewed the second book in this series and gave it the equivalent of a D. Cliched plotting, an uninteresting villain and I got so tired of hearing how hot Maggie was when she was a mess, not sleeping, not eating etc. Pray tell, with that kind of behavior, how "hot" could she possibly look?

I was one and done with it, and haven't books up another book by this author.....

Rosario 25 November 2012 at 15:32  

Oh, that happened here, as well! Drinking, not sleeping, skipping meals for no reason, and still Nick going nuts about her. Ugh.

Yeah, I'm not really tempted to read more, either. There are way too many books in my TBR to bother.

Darlynne,  25 November 2012 at 21:43  

I felt the same way, including yelling and wanting to toss the book across the room. Color me surprised when the series kept going after this first failed attempt. It must have worked for someone.

Rosario 25 November 2012 at 21:50  

It must have! Although from what Wendy says about the second one, the series clearly didn't improve too quickly...

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