They dubbed him the Collector, so named for his ritual of collecting victims before disposing of them in the most heinous ways possible. FBI Special Agent Maggie O'Dell tracked him for two years, finally ending their game of cat and mouse. Now Albert Stucky has escaped from prison...and he is setting up a new game for Maggie O'Dell.
Some say Maggie O'Dell has lost her edge as one of the FBI's best profilers. Since capturing Stucky, she's been walking a tightwire, battling nightmares and guilt over the victims she couldn't save. Now that Stucky is loose again, she's been pulled out of the field. But she knows it's only a matter of time before she's drawn back in -- because only she can see so clearly into the mind of this madman. And he's counting on just that.
As Stucky's trail of victims leads closer and closer to Maggie, she is put back on the case under the supervision of Special Agent R. J. Tully. Together they race against the clock to hunt the killer who remains one bloody step ahead of them. And Maggie finds herself pushed to the very edge. Has her desire to stop Albert Stucky become a matter of personal vengeance? Has she crossed the line? And has that been Stucky's goal all along -- to make her into a monster?
FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell, star of Kava's first thriller, is back again in her second, but her return is not a happy one. From the very first scene, in which serial killer Albert Stucky escapes from two pitifully inadequate prison guards, through the inevitable and apparently endless escalation of brutality (usually against women), to the predictable ending, this is strictly a blender job: part Thomas Harris and part Patricia Cornwell, with odd bones and scraps tossed in from other similarly grisly and more successful sources. O'Dell, who plays Clarice Starling to Stucky's Hannibal Lecter, is still physically and mentally scarred by the two years she spent on his case and she's fighting to get back on it. She gets her wish. Before she can even unpack the boxes in her new home, one of her neighbors disappears, leaving behind a bloody mess, and another is found dead in a Dumpster. Soon, Stucky strikes even closer to home. The supporting cast is full of cardboard cutouts unsuccessfully masquerading as characters, and since O'Dell herself is so miserable from the start, it's hard to care whether or not she and Stucky ever do make it to their final showdown or, for that matter, which of them survives. Kava's hackneyed prose doesn't help matters: "Dear God! How much longer could she put up with the nightmares?" Probably longer than a lot of readers will put up with this book. (Aug.)Forecast: Kava's first O'Dell vehicle, A Perfect Evil, was widely praised, and Mira is looking to build on that success with a national ad campaign, a teaser chapter in the Perfect Evil paperback and a multicity author tour. Fans may go along for the ride, but Kava won't recruit many new readers with this one.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 30, 2002
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Excerpt from Split Second by Alex Kava
North Dade County Detention Center, Miami, Florida
Halloween -- Friday, October 31
Del Macomb wiped the sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt. The stiff cotton of his uniform stuck to his back, and it was only nine in the morning. How could it be this hot and humid in October?
He had grown up just north of Hope, Minnesota. Back home, ice would be forming at the edges of Silver Lake. His daddy would be writing his sermons while watching the last of the snow geese pass overhead. Del pushed wet strands off his brow. Thinking about his daddy reminded him that he needed a haircut. Crazy stuff to be thinking about. Even crazier that it was stuff that could still make him homesick.
"So who's the fucking asshole we're chaperoning today?" Del's partner startled him. He winced at Benny Zeeks's language, then glanced over at the barrel-chested ex-marine to see if he had noticed. He certainly didn't need another lecture -- not that he didn't have a lot to learn from Benny.
"Guys said his name is Stucky." He wondered if Benny had heard him. He seemed preoccupied.
At North Dade County Detention Center Benny Zeeks was somewhat of a legend, not only because he was a twenty-five-year veteran, but because he had spent most of that time working up in Starke on death row and even on X Wing. Del had seen his partner's scars from scuffles he'd won over X Wingers trying to avoid the coffin-like solitary confinement.
He watched Benny shove his shirtsleeves up over his veiny forearms, not bothering to fold or roll them, revealing one of those legendary scars. It intersected a tattoo, a Polynesian dancer who now had a jagged red line across her abdomen as if she had been sliced in half. Benny could still make the dancer dance, flexing his arm and sending the lower half of her into a slow, sexy sway while the other half -- the top half -- froze in place, disconnected. The tattoo fascinated Del, intriguing and repulsing him at the same time.
Now his partner climbed into the armored truck's passenger seat, concentrating on negotiating the narrow steps up into the cab. The man moved slower than usual this morning, and Del immediately knew his partner had another hangover. He swung up into the driver's seat, buckling himself in and pretending, once again, not to notice.
"Who'd you say this asshole is?" Benny asked, while he twisted his thermos lid, the short stubby fingers desperate to get at the coffee. Del wanted to tell him the caffeine would only compound his problem, but after four short weeks on the job, he knew better than to try to tell Benny Zeeks anything.
"We're taking Brice and Webber's run today."
"What the hell for?"
"Webber's got the flu and Brice broke his hand last night."
"How the fuck do you break a hand?"
"All I heard was that he broke it. I don't know how. Look, I thought you hated the monotony of our regular route. Plus, all the traffic just to get to the courthouse."
"Yeah, well, there better not be more paperwork," Benny shifted restlessly as if anticipating the dreaded change in his routine. "And if this is Brice and Webber's run, that means this asshole's headed up to Glades, right? Puttin' him in close custody until his fucking hearing. Means he's some big-time fuckup they don't want down here in our wussy detention lockup."