June 6, 2010


Damaged by Alex Kava
2010 Doubleday
Finished 6/1/10
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)
ARC - Due out on July 13, 2010
FTC Disclosure: Received ARC from a friend

Product Description

On Pensacola Beach, the Coast Guard prepares for a Category 5 hurricane that has entered the Gulf of Mexico. When the air crew patrols the waterways, they spot a huge fishing cooler about a mile offshore. Drug traffickers have been known to dump coolers with smuggled product to avoid detection and pay fishermen to retrieve them. But when the crew open this cooler, they’re shocked by what they find: body parts tightly wrapped in plastic.

Though she is putting herself in the projected path of the hurricane, Special Agent Maggie O’Dell is sent to investigate. Eventually, she’s able to trace the torso in the cooler back to a man who mysteriously disappeared weeks earlier after a hurricane hit Port St. Lucie, Florida. Only Port St. Lucie is on the Atlantic side. How did his body end up six hundred miles away in the Gulf of Mexico?

Cliffhanger chapters, behind-the-scenes forensic details, colorful characters, and satisfying twists have become the trademarks of Kava’s psychological thrillers. In Damaged, she ratchets up the suspense a notch by sending Maggie into the eye of an impending monster hurricane to track down a killer.

A voracious reader and a knowledgeable fan of well-crafted thrillers and mysteries, my sister-in-law has been talking about Alex Kava for almost a decade. The author divides her time between Omaha and Pensacola, so she's known as one of our local authors. I'm not sure why I haven't followed Jen's advice to give Kava's Maggie O'Dell novels a chance, but after reading her upcoming release (#8 in the series), I'm ready to dive into the backlist.

My husband and I flew out to San Diego for Memorial Day weekend and I started in on my ARC of Damaged as soon as we boarded our flight. This is the perfect kind of book for traveling--short chapters, snappy dialogue, and enough suspense to keep me reading even during take-off and landing. In Damaged, Kava refers to previous cases involving FBI special agent and profiler, Maggie O'Dell, yet it didn't bother me to start with the last in this series. I read it knowing I might discover a spoiler or two, but since I have several other books lined up to read this summer, those details will probably be forgotten by the time I get around to reading the very first Maggie O'Dell novel, A Perfect Evil. However, knowing how quickly I was engrossed in this book, I may want to get a couple more in the series for my travels in July. While not quite as gritty as John Sandford's Prey series, Damaged has piqued my interest and I look forward to working my way through Kava's backlist. Thanks for the recommendation, Jen!

About the author (from her website):

ALEX KAVA GREW UP IN THE COUNTRY just outside of Silver Creek, Nebraska, and earned a bachelor’s degree in art and English from College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Nebraska. She has done a variety of jobs, from working as a hospital tech, cleaning and sterilizing utensils from surgery, pathology and the morgue; to running her own graphic design firm, designing national food labels and directing television and radio commercials.

IN 1996 SHE QUIT HER JOB as a public relations director to dedicate herself to writing a novel and getting published. To pay the bills, she refinanced her home, maxed out her credit cards and even took on a newspaper delivery route.

A YEAR AND A HALF LATER A PERFECT EVIL WAS FINISHED. In July 1998 she landed an agent and in February 1999, she signed a three-book contract with MIRA Books. In June 2000 she was in Chicago, sitting next to Barbara Kingsolver at BookExpo America, and signing advanced reader copies.

TODAY, ALEX IS A NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR of psychological suspense novels. Her Maggie O’Dell series, comprised of A Perfect Evil, Split Second, The Soul Catcher, At the Stroke of Madness, A Necessary Evil, Exposed and Black Friday along with her stand-alone novels, One False Move and Whitewash, have been widely praised by critics and fans. They have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Her books have been published in twenty-four countries and have hit the bestseller lists in Australia, Germany, Poland, Italy and the UK. She is also one of the featured writers in the anthology Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night, edited by James Patterson.

ONE FALSE MOVE WAS SELECTED AS Nebraska’s 2006 One Book One Nebraska. (My Antonia by Willa Cather was the 2005 selection). In 2007 Alex was awarded the Mari Sandoz Award by the Nebraska Library Association. Whitewash made January Magazine’s list of best thrillers for 2007. Both Exposed and Black Friday received starred reviews by Publishers Weekly.

2010 marks Alex’s ten year anniversary as an author with the publication of her tenth novel, Damaged (Doubleday, July 13th). She also has co-authored two short stories in anthologies to be published in June and August: First Thrills, edited by Lee Child (After Dark, co-authored with Deb Carlin) and Florida Heat Wave, edited by Michael Lister (A Breath of Hot Air, co-authored with Patricia Bremmer).

ALEX WRITES FULL-TIME AND LIVES IN Omaha, Nebraska and Pensacola, Florida (where her new book, Damaged is set). She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and the International Thrillers Writers.

Looks like Kava and her dog are both Husker fans. Go Big Red! :)

More information about Alex Kava can be found here. Be sure to check out this link to Behind the Scenes of Damaged.


  1. Anonymous10:47 AM

    This is an author that I have been aware of for a really long time, but I've never read one of her books. I think I saw another review of this one recently - the hurricane storyline attracted me. Glad to hear it was a good trip book. I'll check it out.

  2. Anonymous11:43 AM

    Alex Kava is one of my MUST read authors! I have devoured all of her Maggie O'Dell books and recommend them to anyone who loves a great suspense book! And now I'm an even bigger fan now that I know that she has a Westie (so do we!!) I hope you get to read more of her books, they're really enjoyable.

  3. I've never read any of Kava's work, but this sounds like a great book for the beach with the short chapters and the great dialogue.

  4. I love psychological thrillers. Love! Them! So, this looks great, as I need a bit of a break from the classics I'vie been indulging in perhaps too heavily.

    By the way, I'm contemplating a move back to Blogger. Can you believe it, after a year in WordPress? But, I miss the old ways...you'd still visit me, right?

  5. Anonymous8:19 PM

    You've influenced my reading so much over the last decade, it's nice to be able to return the favor even a little bit. Thanks, can't wait to see what Maggie's up to next.


  6. I've read all of Alex's books. Great Nebraska author, stunning mysteries, and edgy dialogue to keep readers interested!

  7. I hope you're feeling better from your bug. It was so great to have you visit me on Blogger just like the old days. I'm such a nostalgic face...

  8. I loved A Perfect Evil, so I am sure I will love this one too!

  9. Stick around everyone. I may give my copy away (once my husband and SIL have read it, that is).

    Kay - That's exactly what it was -- a good trip book. I love getting caught up in a good thriller. Keeps my mind off the turbulence. ;)

    Talesofabookaddict - Glad to hear her other books are just as entertaining! I definitely plan to read the rest of her back list. I need to stock up before my next trip.

    Thanks for stopping by. It's always nice to see a new face around here. :)

    Kathy - Yep. Short chapters and snappy dialogue are the perfect ingredients for a beach read. This was just the ticket for my travels last week. I needed the distraction...

    Bellezza - This is definitely a thriller, but kind of light on the psychological aspect. I think I enjoyed it so well because I like Kava's strong female characters. But compared to John Sandford's "Prey" series, this is a little bit tamer.

    I've already welcomed you back to Blogger, but you know I'd follow you anywhere. ;) And to think I was going to make the switch over to WP!! It looked too complicated and I don't have the time (or patience) to learn a new platform. I'm still using Blogger Classic! Sheesh. xoxo

    Jen - And you've influenced my reading, too. I promise I'll read Lonesome Dove one of these days! ;)

    Annie - She definitely kept my interest. Thanks for stopping by with your comment!

    Bellezza - Yes, I'm feeling much better. Thank you! Boy, I'd much rather have a head cold...

    Pam - Oh, good. Another fan. I can't wait to read her other books.

  10. I loved her last book about Black Friday and the shopping mall! I'm waiting patiently for this one to be released!

  11. Oh good, there are seven previous books so I won't have to wait to start reading this author. Thanks for the recommendation.

  12. I've read a couple of Kava books and they do pull you in and keep you reading. When she has used Omaha as a setting, it's fun to read about the town and imagine the characters on particular streets or at certain places.

  13. Caroline123 - Good to know her previous book was a winner, too. I plan to give this one away in a week or two, so check back and put your name in the drawing!

    Framed - You're more than welcome! Happy to enable. :)

    Lisa - I'll be anxious to read some of those set in the Omaha area, although, after living in Lincoln since 1992, I still don't know Omaha all that well. I can get to the airport, the Orpheum, the Old Market, and a couple of the malls, but that's about it!

  14. I don't know what to think of Alex Kava. I only read A Perfect Evil and loved, loved, loved it UNTIL the end. I have no recollection of what the book was about, but I know that I was TICKED OFF. The book was being passed around and around to a group of teachers I worked with at the time and everybody felt the same way. I have not picked up another one since. I think I have almost all of the books in this series, so apparently I have some inner desire to read them. :) It's not like me to not give an author a second chance, so I will get to the 2nd one some time soon - I hope.

  15. Joy - Hmmm, I still plan to read more of Kava's works, but now I'm curious about the ending to A Perfect Evil! :) Let's hope the next one doesn't disappoint either of us.


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