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A Perfect Evil
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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.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Kava's debut thriller borrows bits and pieces from other novels: a little Silence of the Lambs here, a dash of Kiss the Girls there. The result is uneven but indicative of better things to come once Kava does his research a little better and cuts back on some of the purple prose. Research problems? Well, it is doubtful that a small Nebraska town would have a radio station with the call letters KRAP, and the Strategic Air Command disappeared more than a decade ago. But the story still manages to hold a listener's interest. An FBI profiler and the town sheriff are brought together after a string of brutal murders of young boys. The female profiler has had experience with a similar killer who is now in jail (or is he?), and the sheriff knows that he got his job only because his father had been a well-loved law officer (or was he?). The red herrings abound in A Perfect Evil, but true aficionados of thrillers will have figured out who the killer is halfway through the story. And speaking of KRAP, this cassette came in the worst casing this reviewer has ever encountered: the cover shatters like glass, and trying to fit the tapes back into their respective slots gives figuring out the Rubik's Cube a run for its money. Still, it's a promising first novel and should be popular in most audio collections. The narrator, Richard Rohan, does voices well and manages to keep up the pace of the story even when the text slacks a little. Joseph L. Carlson, Lompoc P.L., CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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