Friday, July 11, 2008

At The Stroke of Madness - Alex Kava

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.

FBI Special Agent Maggie O'Dell is just starting a hard-earned vacation when she gets a call from her friend, psychologist Dr. Gwen Patterson. One of Gwen's patients is missing on a trip to Connecticut. Can Maggie look into Joan Begley's disappearance?

At first Maggie dismisses Gwen's concern. But when the body of a woman is discovered buried in an abandoned rock quarry in Connecticut, Maggie heads to the small town on "unofficial" business to see if there's a connection to Joan Begley. Soon the shocking news surfaces that more bodies have been discovered. And before she realizes it, Maggie is drawn into a case that confounds both local law enforcement and a seasoned criminal profiler like herself.

The question remains: Where is Joan Begley? Is she in fact the woman discovered buried in the quarry? Or is she the unwilling guest of a killer obsessed with possessing an unimaginable prize from his victims?

Another Maggie O'Dell thriller and one I was looking forward because other than the crimes I was looking forward to the development of the Maggie/Nick situation. Unfortunately it was not to be... I'll have to wait till the next book, hopefully...

Regarding the mystery itself Maggie finds herself in the middle of a possible serial killer crisis when she goes to check on a patient of her friend Dr Gwen Patterson who went missing. The book has several interesting secondary characters - the sheriff, Dr Bonzado and even the killer - but somehow none of them is fully developed. It takes a while to understand what the killer is doing and I never really felt he was such an evil character as his actions made him to be. One of the main characters of the story is Luc Racine, Julia Racine's (that we've known is earlier books) and he seems to be the object of the killer's attentions but the fact that he suffers from Alzheimer make his statements unreliable and Maggie ends up staying with him. I thought that him being Julia's father would have some relevant purpose but it's not so... the same with some of Maggie's emotional baggage which doesn't really add to the story. After the last book I would have preferred that she made peace with her mother. Besides the end was a bit strange with Maggie deciding to go hunting the killer with no back up other than Racine whose memory cannot be trusted. It was too naive for an experienced woman like she is.

Grade: C+

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