Melanie Starks and her seventeen-year-old son, Charlie, have been running one con job or another for as long as she can remember. Worried about Charlie, though, Melanie is ready to start over. Then her brother, Jared, reappears in her life.
Released on a technicality, Jared Barnett is just out of prison and feeling more invincible than ever. He has the perfect plan to rob a local Nebraska bank, but he needs Melanie's and Charlie's help. Feeling that she owes the brother who saved her from an unspeakably violent childhood, Melanie agrees to Jared's plan.
But within seconds, shots are fired and Jared and Charlie run out of the bank. They are empty-handed and four people are dead. When they refuse to tell her what happened in those few desperate moments, Melanie realizes her brother and son have formed a silent bond. And now they are all on the run from the police, taking a hostage with them and willing to do anything to survive.
Nebraskan suspense author Kava takes a break from her successful series featuring FBI Special Agent Maggie O'Dell (At the Stroke of Madness; Split Second) with this psychological thriller about the fallout from an abortive bank robbery. The principal players are Jared Barnett, just released by his shady attorney's machinations from a life sentence for murder; his docile sister, Melanie Starks; and her 17-year-old son, Charlie, to whom Jared is a father figure. Just as their lives seem to be approaching normalcy, Jared scopes out a bank heist and bullies his sister and nephew into helping him. Mel is designated driver in the high-risk chase that begins right after Jared and Charlie, empty-handed, flee the bank. In a remote state park cabin, Andrew Kane, a writer, happens to be alone when they appear and Mel, shocked, learns from his TV that four people were killed in the holdup. Then she remembers the childhood that she and Jared were cheated out of--a mother who washed down pills with vodka while their father mercilessly beat the children until Jared took matters into his own hands. Victims accumulate as fast as the escape route changes, while abbreviated chapters and truncated dialogue signal the approaching explosive climax. This is a one-night read with some unexplained loose ends that won't bother readers hooked on hair-raising car chases and gruesome murder scenes.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 31, 2005
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Excerpt from One False Move by Alex Kava
Max Kramer wore his lucky red tie with his blue power suit. While he waited for the guard to unlock the door, he admired his reflection in the glass security window behind them. That Grecian hair formula really worked. He could barely see any of the gray. His wife kept telling him the salt and pepper made him look more distinguished. Of course she would say that. She always said stuff like that when she was suspicious, when she knew he was hunting for someone new. God, she knew him well, better than she realized.
"Big day," the hulk of a guard said to him. But he was scowling instead of smiling.
Max had heard the nicknames the guards had given him in the last several weeks. He knew he wasn't a popular guy here on death row. But that was to the guards. To the inmates he had reached hero status. And they were the ones he cared about; they were the ones who counted. They needed him to right their wrongs, to tell their stories, or rather their versions of their stories. Yes, they were the ones who mattered, but not because he was a bleeding-heart liberal like the Omaha World Herald or the Lincoln Journal Star seemed pleased to label him. It was nothing quite as admirable as all that. Quite simply, all his hard work, all his efforts were for a day like today. A day when he could watch a client of his walk out of this concrete hellhole. A day when he could save his client from the electric chair and walk alongside him out the front doors and into the sunlight. The sunlight and the spotlight of about two dozen TV cameras from across the country. CNN's Larry King had already booked Max and Jared on his show for tomorrow night. And his red tie would show up wonderfully tonight when NBC aired his interview with Brian Williams.
Yes, this was what he had waited for his entire career. All the shitty pay and long hours would be worth it, and the local media attacks would come to an end.
He stopped at the doorway to the holding room, pretending to show some respect for his client's privacy. Pretending. He didn't want to spend any more time alone with Jared Barnett than necessary. So he watched from the doorway. Barnett was wearing the same faded jeans and red T-shirt he had surrendered that first day at the penitentiary five years ago, only now the T-shirt bulged from the muscles Barnett had built up during his days of incarceration. Since Barnett had traded in his orange jumpsuit for street clothes, Max couldn't help thinking how ordinary the man looked. Even his short dark hair had that disheveled but cool look, that just-got-out-of-bed look that Max could never pull off, but that Barnett would probably make trendy after his media appearances.
Max had already made his client out to be the poor misunderstood bad boy who had been framed and then abused by a justice system that had stolen five years of his life. Now Barnett just needed to play the role. He certainly looked it.
The guard at the door stepped aside.
"Paperwork's coming," he said. "You want, you can wait inside."
Max nodded as if grateful for the invitation -- for what the guard seemed to consider a courtesy -- even though Max preferred that the asshole let him wait in the hall. Too late. Jared saw him and waved him into the holding room. He stood up when Max entered, another courtesy. Jesus!What was this world coming to when convicted murderers started being courteous?
"Relax. Take a load off." Max shoved one of the metal folding chairs in Barnett's direction, scraping it against the floor, the noise grating on his nerves. Only now did he realize he was nervous, nervous that Barnett would screw this up for him.
"Man, I never thought you'd actually be able to pull this off," Barnett said, taking the seat, seemingly not bothered that Max remained standing.