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Split Second - Alex Kava

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Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Alex Kava / Mass Market Paperback / 416 Pages / Book is published 2002-09-20 by Mira Books

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      10.12.2009 16:54
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      cracking read

      Split Second is the second novel by Alex Kava an American author whose main character is a FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell. Alex is a women which might not seem like a major point but the book has a high degree of sexual tension and feels more like a book written by a sexually frustrated middle aged man, more of that later.

      The book

      Split second is a book looking at the antics of a serial murderer called Albert Stucky, Albert escapes at the start of the novel and is a main character in the novel. Albert was caught a year earlier by the investigation by Maggie O'Dell, in the course of the investigation she has to enter his psyche and try to second guess this sexual psychopath. At the end of the intestigation she captures him, gains a wound and has huge mental issues over the whole investigation. She also wonders if she should have shot him there and then, at the end she moves jobs and towns and tries to make a new life in Southern CAlifornia. Stucky escapes and the nightmare starts again.

      This is the second book featuring Maggie O'Dell but the first doesn't feature this case, Maggie is a petite good looking woman in her thirties whose marriage is breaking down. she decides to split with her husband and move to a new town, Maggie is intelligent forceful and inventive. She also makes friend and enemies quickly.

      Other characters

      RJ Tully is Maggies new partner, in his forties divorced with a fifteen year old daughter. He's the opposite of Maggie, dependable but disorganised, confused over his marriage breakup and how to cope with a teenage daughter. Tully whose first name we havent yet found out, is the anchor to MAggies wilder concerns, he's very much the Scully rather than the Mulder in this partnership. He's a profiler as well, but his previous training was book based rather than field and this is his first real live case.

      Dr. Gwen Pattinson

      Maggies psychotherapy friend, she's a gorgeous brunette in her thirties who helps the FBI with their profiling, she's also been helping Maggie with her mental issues over the Stucky case.

      Asssistant Director Cunnungham

      O'Dells and Tully's boss at the FBI, he runs the team with a mix of iron and humour, very much married to his job he's also sensitive to the needs of his team. He very much reminds me of Jean-Luc Picard, his staff trust him and he leads his team sympathetically.

      Albert Stucky

      He's a dark character and we see the murders through his eyes, he's a sexually frustrated serial rapist/killer who kills young women, slashing them and leaving a present in a container for an unsuspecting member of the public to find.


      These are the main characters.

      Stucky escapes and the book sets off.

      My thoughts on the book

      Novels using serial killers and murders are ten a penny, they rely on the reader becoming a voyeur, in a macabre way enjoying the depiiction of rape and murder. Making the murders as explicit and sexually sprinkled as possile gives the reader a rush of gratuitous release, obviously this is a fictional novel so the murders are fake but the telling is very real. The author gives an insight into her world, in this world male serial killers are sexually repressed and give into their urges through the basic way of rape, murder and mutilation. The actions of the killer are in some ways black and white, they exist purely as a bit of macabre candy for the reader and give the reader a jolt of sexual release.

      The other characters exhibit a more colourful varied life story, they are a mix of light and dark, they have relationship issues, the need to be accepted and the desire for release in terms of sex and life.

      Maggie is the main character and is confused with her nightmare over Stucky and her realisation that her marriage is finished. Maggie also has feelings for a Boston sheriff she met in the previous novel. She has yet to fully give in to her desires and wishes, her hunt for stucky will define her life and give it focus for the years ahead.

      RJ is a more staid and dependable man, his character is an odd one as he's a bit of a square head but his relationship with his daughter gives him warmth and his insecurities about his new job is endearing.

      The writing is in the style of say James Patterson or Patricia Cornwell with short chapters and a racy style but the writing is in truth better than either of those authors and makes the reader want to know what happens to the characters. By the end, the author defines her characters and sets them in place for the future novels. I enjoyed the novel, but was worried occassionally by the explicitness of the sexuality and the murders and the desire of the author to make the act of killing a sexually liberating event. Indeed in some places the murders are shockingly indecent, with the line between sex and murder closely interwound.

      However, my final thoughts are this is a decent novel and very readable.

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