Cover image for A perfect evil
A perfect evil
Kava, Alex.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Waterville, ME : Thorndike Press, 2002.

Physical Description:
613 pages ; 23 cm
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X Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print

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Author Notes

Alex Kava is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She writes novels in the psychological thriller genre. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her two dogs Miss Molly and Scout. She writes a bestselling FBI profiler series which includes her character Maggie O'Dell.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Little boys are being savagely murdered in a small Nebraska town, and playboy sheriff Nick Morelli is way out of his league dealing with a serial killer. To the rescue comes expert FBI profiler Maggie O!Dell, who also happens to be young and drop-dead gorgeous. While investigating the murders (and trying to resist Nick!s considerable charms), Maggie comes up with the profile of a killer who is a threat to the entire community. The heat rises as Nick!s nephew disappears. Can Maggie and Nick gather enough evidence to stop the killer before it!s too late? This debut thriller pumps the suspense out smoothly enough (though the killer!s identity is telegraphed much too early), and Maggie is gutsy and appealing as an FBI agent facing constant danger. The open-ended story line guarantees a sequel, which should interest fans of Patricia Cornwell!s recently departed Benton Wesley."Rebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Five miles outside Platte City, Nebraska Friday, October 24 Nick Morrelli wished the woman beneath him wore less makeup. He knew it was ridiculous. He listened to her soft moans--purrs really. Like a cat, she slithered against him, rubbing her silky thighs up and down the sides of his torso. She was more than ready for him. And yet, all he could think about was the blue powder smeared on her eyelids. Even with the lights out, it remained etched in his mind like fluorescent, glow-in-the-dark paint. "Oh, baby, your body is so hard," she purred in his ear as she ran her long fingernails up his arms and over his back. He slid off her before she discovered that not all of his body was hard. What was wrong with him? He needed to concentrate. He licked her earlobe and nuzzled her neck, then moved down to where he really wanted to be. Instinctively, his mouth found one of her breasts. He ravished it with soft, wet kisses. She moaned even before his tongue flicked at her nipple. He loved those sounds a woman made--the short little gasp, then the low moan. He waited for them, then wrapped his tongue around her nipple and sucked it into his mouth. Her back arched, and she quivered. He leaned into her, absorbing the shiver, her soft, smooth flesh trembling against him. Normally, that reaction alone would immediately give him an erection. Tonight, nothing. Jesus, was he losing his touch? No, he was too young to be having this problem. After all, he was four years away from forty. When in the world had he started keeping track of his age by its distance from forty? "Oooh, lover, don't stop!" He didn't even realize he had stopped. She groaned impatiently and began moving her hips up and down, slowly, with a sensuous rhythm. Yes, she was definitely ready for him. And he was definitely not ready. Just once he wished women would use his name instead of baby, lover, stud muffin, whatever. Did women worry about yelling out the wrong name, too? Her fingers twisted into his short, thick hair. She yanked hard, the streak of pain surprising him. Then she pulled his face back to her breasts. In the dim light, he noticed that the triangle of tanned skin was crooked. The point overlapped onto the underside of her breast. What was wrong with him? A beautiful blonde wanted him. Why didn't her breathless anticipation arouse him? He needed to focus. It all felt too mechanical, too routine. Nevertheless, he would compensate again using his fingers and tongue. After all, he had a reputation to maintain. He began the descent down her body, devouring her with kisses and nibbles. Her body squirmed beneath his touch. She was writhing and gasping for breath even before his teeth tugged at her lace panties. He kissed his way to the inside of her thighs. Suddenly, a sound stopped him. He strained to hear from under the bedcovers. "No, please don't stop," she groaned, pulling him back into her. There it was again. Pounding. Someone was at the front door. "I'll be right back." Nick gently pushed her hands away and stumbled out of bed, disentangling himself from the sheets and almost tripping. He pulled on jeans as he checked the clock on the nightstand--10:36. Even in the dark, he knew every creak in the staircase by heart. Out of habit, he found himself tiptoeing, though his parents hadn't slept in the old farmhouse for over five years. The knock was louder and more insistent now. "Hold on a minute," he called out impatiently, yet relieved by the interruption. When he opened the door, Nick recognized Hank Ash-ford's son, though he couldn't recall his name. The boy was sixteen or seventeen, a linebacker on the football team and built like he could move two or three players at a time off the line of scrimmage. Yet, tonight, as he stood on Nick's front porch, the kid slouched with his hands stashed in his pockets, eyes wild and face pale. He shivered despite the sweaty forehead. "Sheriff Morrelli, you have to come…on Old Church Road…please, you have to…" "Is someone hurt?" The crisp night air stung Nick's bare skin. It felt good. "No, it's not…he's not hurt…Oh, God, Sheriff, it's awful." The boy looked back toward his car. It was only then that Nick saw the girl in the front seat. Even looking into the headlights, he could see she was crying. "What's going on?" he demanded, sending the boy into a speechless, arm-crossing dance, shifting his weight from one leg to the other. What stupid game had they been playing this time? Last week, the night before homecoming, a group of boys had played chicken with a couple of Jake Turner's tractors. The loser had tipped over into a rain-filled ditch, pinning himself under the water. The boy was lucky he had escaped with only broken ribs and the flimsy punishment of sitting out two football games. "What the hell happened this time?" Nick found himself yelling at the shivering linebacker. "We found…down off Old Church Road…in the tall grass. Oh God, we found…we found a body." "A body?" Nick wasn't sure he believed him. "You mean a dead body?" Was the boy drunk? Was he stoned? The boy nodded, tears filling his eyes. He scraped the sleeve of his sweatshirt across his face and looked from Nick to his girlfriend, then back to Nick. "Hang on a minute." Nick stepped back inside, letting the screen door slam behind him. They had probably imagined it. Or maybe it was an early Halloween prank. They'd been out partying. Both of them were probably stoned. He pulled on his boots, bypassing socks, then grabbed his shirt from the sofa, where it had been taken off him earlier in the evening. He was annoyed to find his fingers shaking as he buttoned the front. "Nick, what is it?" The voice from the top of the stairs startled him. He had forgotten about Angie. Roused from bed, her long, blond hair was ruffled and floated around her shoulders. The blue eye makeup was hardly noticeable from this distance. She wore one of his T-shirts. It was transparent in the hallway's soft light. Now, looking up at her, he couldn't imagine why he had been relieved to leave her. "I've got to check something out." "Is someone hurt?" She sounded more curious than concerned. Was she only looking for a bit of gossip? Something to share with the morning coffee drinkers at Wanda's Diner? "I don't know." "Did someone find the Alverez boy?" Jesus, he hadn't even thought of that. The boy had been missing since Sunday, gone, taken before he began his newspaper route. "No, I don't think so," Nick told her. Even the FBI was certain the boy had more than likely been taken by his father, who they were still trying to locate. It was a simple custody battle. And this was simply teenage kids playing tricks on each other. "I might be a while, but you're welcome to stay." He grabbed the keys to his Jeep and found Ashford sitting on the front steps, his face buried in his hands. "Let's go." Nick gently yanked a handful of sweatshirt and pulled the boy to his feet. "Why don't the two of you get in with me." Nick wished he had taken time to put on underwear. Now, in the cramped Jeep, the stiff denim scraped against him every time he put the clutch in and shifted. To make matters worse, Old Church Road was filled with ruts from the rains of the week before. The gravel popped against the Jeep as he weaved from side to side, avoiding the deep gashes in the road. "What exactly were you two doing out on this washboard?" As soon as he said it, he realized the obvious. He didn't need to be seventeen to remember all the benefits of an old deserted gravel road. "Never mind," he added before either of them had time to answer. "Just tell me where I'm going." "It's about another mile, just past the bridge. There's a pasture road that runs along the river." "Sure, okay." He noticed Ashford wasn't stuttering anymore. Perhaps he was sobering up. The girl, however, who sat between Nick and the boy, hadn't said a word. Nick slowed down as the Jeep bumped across the wood-slatted bridge. He found the pasture road even before Ashford pointed it out. They bounced and slid over the dirt road that consisted of rutted tire tracks filled with muddy water. "All the way down to the trees?" Nick glanced at Ashford, who only nodded and stared straight ahead. As they approached the shelter belt, the girl hid her face in the boy's sweatshirt. Nick stopped, killed the engine, but left on the headlights. He reached across the two of them and pulled a flashlight from the glove compartment. "That door sticks," he said to Ashford. He watched the two exchange a glance. Neither made any attempt to leave the Jeep. "You never said we'd have to look at it again," the girl whispered to Ashford as she clung to his arm. Nick slammed the car door. Its echo sliced through the silence. There was nothing around for miles. No traffic, no farm lights. Even the night animals seemed to be asleep. He stood outside the Jeep, waiting. The boy's eyes met his, but still he made no motion to leave the Jeep. Instead of insisting, Nick pointed the flashlight toward an area down by the riverbank. The stream of light shot through thick grass, catching just a glimpse of rolling water. Ashford's eyes followed. He hesitated, looked back at Nick and nodded. The tall grass swished around Nick's knees, camouflaging the mud that sucked at his boots. Jesus, it was dark out. Even the orange moon hid behind a gauze of clouds. Leaves rustled behind him. He spun around and shot a stream of light from tree to tree. Was there movement? There, in the brush? He could have sworn a shadow ducked from the light. Or was it just his imagination? Nick strained to see beyond the thick branches. He held his breath and listened. Nothing. Probably just the wind. He listened again and realized there was no wind. A shiver caught him off guard, and he wished he had brought a jacket. This was crazy. He refused to be suckered by some high-school prank. The sooner he checked it out, the sooner he could be back in his warm bed. The squashing sound grew louder the closer he got to the river. It was an effort to walk, pulling each foot out and carefully placing it to avoid slipping. His new boots would be ruined. He could already feel his feet getting wet. No socks, no underwear, no jacket. "Damn it," he muttered. "This better be good." He was going to be mad as hell if he found a group of teenagers playing hide-and-seek. The flashlight caught something glittering in the mud, close to the water. He locked his eyes on the spot and quickened his pace. He was almost there, almost out of the tall grass. Suddenly, he tripped. He lost his balance and crashed down hard, with his elbows breaking his fall. The flashlight flew out of his hand and into the black water, a tunnel of light spiraling to the bottom. He ignored the sting shooting up his arms. The sucking mud pulled at him as he pushed himself to his hands and knees. A rancid smell clung to him, more than just the stench of the river. The silvery object lay almost within reach, and now he could tell it was a cross-shaped medallion. The chain was broken and scattered in the mud. He glanced back to see what had caused his fall. Something solid. He expected to see a fallen tree. But not more than a yard away was a small, white body nestled in the mud and leaves. Nick scrambled to his feet, his knees weak, his stomach in his throat. The smell was more noticeable now, and it filled the air, stinging his nostrils. He approached the body slowly as if not wanting to wake the boy, who looked asleep despite those wide eyes staring up at the stars. Then he saw the boy's slashed throat and mangled chest, the skin ripped open and peeled back. That's when his stomach lurched and his knees caved in. "All it takes is one bad apple," Christine Hamilton pounded out on the keyboard. Then she hit the delete key and watched the words disappear. She'd never finish the article. She leaned back to steal a glance at the hall clock--the lighted beacon in the tunnel of darkness. Almost eleven o'clock. Thank God, Timmy had a sleepover. Janitorial services had shut off the hall light again. Just another reminder of how important the "Living Today" section was. At the end of the dark hall, she saw the newsroom's light glowing under the door that segregated the departments. Even at this distance, she could hear the wire services and fax machines buzzing. On the other side of that door, a half-dozen reporters and editors guzzled coffee and churned out last-minute articles and revisions. Just on the other side of that door, news was being made while she fussed over apple pie. She whipped open a file folder and flipped through the notes and recipes. Over a hundred ways to slice, dice, puree and bake apples, and she couldn't care less. Perhaps her clever wit had run dry, used up on last week's hot little tomato dishes and a dozen ways to sneak fresh vegetables into your family's diet. She knew her journalism degree was rusty, thanks to Bruce's pigheadedness and his insistence that he wear the pants in the family. Too bad the asshole couldn't keep his pants on. She slammed the folder shut and tossed it across her desk, watching it slide off and scatter clippings all over the cracked linoleum floor. How long would she remain bitter? No, the real question was, how long would it hurt? Why did it still have to hurt like hell? After all, it had been over a year. She shoved away from the computer terminal and raked her fingers through her thick mass of blond hair. It needed to be trimmed, and she tried to remember how much time she had before the roots would start darkening. The dye job was a new touch, a divorce present to herself. The initial results had been rewarding. Turning heads was a new experience. If only she could remember to schedule the hairstylist like everything else in her life. She ignored the building's no smoking rule and slapped a cigarette out of the pack she kept in her handbag. Quickly, she lit it and sucked in, waiting for the nicotine to calm her. Before she exhaled, she heard a door slam. She smashed the cigarette into a dessert plate that bulged with too many lipstick-covered butts for a person trying to quit. The footsteps echoed down the hall in quick bursts. Excerpted from A Perfect Evil by Alex Kava All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.