good way for authors to gauge their readership is to measure the
clamor that is manifested for the return of a minor character ---
good or evil --- to a particular series. Alex Kava, whose Maggie
O'Dell series has been adding readers exponentially with the
subsequent release of each installment, introduced a vile character
named Father Michael Keller in A PERFECT EVIL, the first O'Dell
book, and let him get away. Fans who've been hoping for Keller's
return have finally gotten their wish, thanks to Kava's latest
novel, A NECESSARY EVIL.
At the beginning of the book, O'Dell is busily assisting with the
investigation of a murderer in the Washington, D.C. area who's
beheading young women and leaving their heads in various places.
O'Dell is unaware that her mentor, Dr. Gwen Patterson, has been
receiving clues about the killings from the murderer. Patterson has
been frightened into silence regarding the clues, as the killer has
an apparent link to Patterson and will use this information against
her if she doesn't cooperate with him.
In the midst of the investigation O'Dell is abruptly transferred to
a different assignment in Omaha, Nebraska, where a Catholic priest
has been killed. It is soon determined that this murder has
similarities to that of another priest and an ex-priest in
different locations. However, O'Dell receives the ultimate shock
when she gets a telephone call from Father Keller, who is offering
his assistance in return not only for immunity from prosecution for
his past acts, but also for protection from the murderer, who has
targeted Keller as his next victim.
Kava is at top form in A NECESSARY EVIL. There are a number of
water cooler moments, the most notable one occurring about halfway
through the book. I won't give it away, but it's going to be a
while before I can walk into a kitchen without thinking about it.
Kava also focuses on events in O'Dell's personal life without
allowing the book to stray from the main plot(s), even setting up
some plot vehicles for subsequent O'Dell novels. Taken as a whole,
A NECESSARY EVIL is a must-read for longtime fans of Kava and for
readers looking for a new literary addiction. Recommended.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 12, 2011