A Perfect Evil (Maggie O'Dell Series #1)

A Perfect Evil (Maggie O'Dell Series #1)

by Alex Kava


$21.62 $22.95 Save 6% Current price is $21.62, Original price is $22.95. You Save 6%. View All Available Formats & Editions


The brutal murders of three young boys paralyze the citizens of Platte City, Nebraska. What's worse is the grim realization that the man recently executed for the crimes was a copycat. When Sheriff Nick Morrelli is called to the scene of another grisly murder, it becomes clear that the real predator is still at large, waiting to kill again.

Morrelli understands the urgency of the case terrorizing his community, but it's the experienced eye of FBI criminal profiler Maggie O'Dell that pinpoints the true nature of the evil behind the killings—a revelation made all the more horrific when Morrelli's own nephew goes missing.

Maggie understands something else: the killer is enjoying himself, relishing his ability to stay one step ahead of her, making this case more personal by the hour. Because out there, watching, is a killer with a heart of pure and perfect evil.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781551665733
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 08/01/2000
Series: Maggie O'Dell Series , #1
Edition description: Original
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.53(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.23(d)

About the Author

ALEX KAVA’s two stand-alone novels and seven novels featuring FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell have been published in more than twenty countries, appearing on the bestseller lists in Britain, Australia, Poland, Germany, and Italy. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. Alex divides her time between Omaha, Nebraska, and Pensacola, Florida.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

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 hestarted 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 Ashford'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 woodslatted 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 brash? 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

A Perfect Evil (Maggie O'Dell Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 253 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a harlequin romance masquerading as a psych-thriller. The protagonists spend long moments thrilling to one another's touch while the nephew of one is locked up somewhere by a psycho serial killer from Hell (who's not particularly well written). The two also have moments of teen angst concerning their respective parents. With all this childish emoting going on, it's no surprise that the psycho serial killer gets away!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Just before the state of Nebraska executed him for the heinous murders of three boys, Ronald Jeffrey confesses his sins to Father Francis. Ronald insists that he only killed and raped one of the lads, Bobby Wilson. He swears to God that he never murdered, mutilated, or raped the other two boys. No one including the confessional priest believes Ronald is anything but a serial killing monster.

Three months after the electrocution of Ronald, a new corpse of a young butchered boy is discovered in Platte City. Relatively new Sheriff Nick Morelli has no experience with this type of investigation. He asks the FBI to lend him a top profiler. Maggie O¿Dell is tired to the bone after a particularly nasty case. Her boss gives her a choice of some R&R or helping Nick. With personal demons that reject any notion of rest, Maggie travels to Platte City to assist the local law enforcement team. As they work together to uncover an evil presence who has murdered again, they fall in love, but as Maggie knows, the aftertaste of a case leaves little room for happiness.

A PERFECT EVIL is a near perfect serial killer thriller that will excite fans of the sub-genre and police investigative stories as well. The manhunt story line is fast paced, never slowing down for a moment. However, the plot succeeds because of the depth and understanding of the characters. They seem genuine whether they are police, psychopathic killers, or support cast. Alex Kava has debuted with a winning tale that will leave sub-genre fans anxiously awaiting the obvious sequel that hopefully will close out the few loose ends.

Harriet Klausner

aats More than 1 year ago
I must say that while there was definite potential for this book, I won't be wasting my time on any more of Kava's books. The pace would pick up and then be interupted, mostly with romance scenes. I found it disturbing that the sheriff could be romancing a woman while his newphew was possibly being murdered and mutilated. Also dissapointing was the developement of the killer. And though Maggie O'Dell is supposed to be a profiler, Kava really didn't do a good job of making her seem like one. The end was dissapointing because of the absurdness of the killer helping her old nemesis escape from prison. It might have been more believable had the entire story been written better. Oh, and why do all the main characters have parental issues????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok. I read this book when i was in 7th grade (and many time afterwards as well). I have been completely obsessed with Alex Kava since. Maggie O'Dell is an amazing character and if you like this one continue to read the series. I promise you wont be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really want to thank Alex Kava. If it wasn't for her then I wouldn't be reading again. I am single mom that has a hard time finding something that keeps my intrest until now. Perfect Evil was such an awesome book that I actually finished it in 2 days. That means a lot cause it usually takes me forever to finish a book, if I ever finish it. So thank you again...and keep it coming. Oh yeah, Nick needs to partner up with O'Dell some more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A perfect evil? Sorry, not in my opinion. From the title and the synopsis, I was expecting a bone-chilling, white-knuckled thriller. Unfortunately, what I read was a dime-store romance thinly disguised as a very predictable mystery. I would have preferred a story with a lot more character and story development and a LOT less about the sexual tension between the two main characters. It was extremely distracting, and because of the lack of character development I found it somewhat offensive. Overall, I liked the idea behind the plot line, but between the lack of originality as far as 'twists' go and the complete absence of any in-depth character development, I must say that I would hesitate before reading another book by the same author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I almost didn't buy this book due to some of the comments in the reviews I read. But the book synopsis just kept sounding so good, that I decided to try it. And boy, am I glad I did! This was an excellent read! I liked the story line and the writing style. I just couldn't put it down. And there is a sequel to it that I am just starting!! This new author is going to be around a while!
Jenrae More than 1 year ago
Without giving anything away let me just say that this book didn't have a typical ending. It left the door wide open for another book. This was my first Kava novel and won't be my last. It was well written and a definite page turner. Kept me on the edge of my seat.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of the best books I have read in a long time. From the very beginning of the book to the very end it holds you in suspense. I can't wait to read her sequel Second Chance.
joroJR More than 1 year ago
I was into this book from the first page to the last. Kava has the ability to keep the momentum going. I will read many more of her books.
Sansabiel More than 1 year ago
All of these books have that "can't put it down" quality. The characters are very real and the locations in Mid-America are a nice change from the usual LA-New York setting. I also am impressed by the fact that unlike most people, this author has taken the time to learn about the thought processes of dogs. This is so rare as to be almost nonexistent. Bravo! With our dogs being so important to our lives, it's nice to see the occasional human taking enough interest in them to make an effort to understand them.
reetRM More than 1 year ago
I havent read a Maggie O'Dell I didnt love . Cant wait for the next one always.
Bj66BF More than 1 year ago
Totally hooked on this series. I am now reading book #3.
vstarlady More than 1 year ago
I bought everything she has written she keeps you hooked from page one. I would be up till 2-3 am because I could not put her down...Page turner can't wait till she comes out with a new book.
lovingmomAH More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book at our library about a year ago and I was trying to find a new author. This book was so good. Not only is it a great mystery but it also has a lil romance. Great story!!! It is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read, kept me wanting more from the first chapter. Love that this is a series.
janiern More than 1 year ago
Very easy to follow and get involved with. Usually takes me a while to read a book but I breezed right through this one and bought the next book. Love Maggie's character.
Klausp More than 1 year ago
This is my first read of Kava, it won't be my last. One of those books that grabs you from page one and keeps your interest until you are sorry that you find yourself on the last page. Great character development, good research, creates a sense of being there and part of the action.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a little too intense for me. Several scenes describing sexual assaults against children. Having two young boys of my own, it was difficult to stomach. The plot was predictable and cliched. The "love" story in the middle of the madness was a trip. If you need to find "the one," head to a grizzly, slash-em-up child-murder scene and love is sure to blossom.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book, and I was hoping for a better ending. This book statrted out slow, but did pick up. There was so much going on at the end that it was difficult to wrap your brain around it. I plan to continue reading Alex Kava just because I have to see what else happens to the characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Less than a quarter of the way through this book, and I have solved it. It would have been better had the author not given information from the killer's point of view.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I appreciated the premise and the read of the main characters was fairly enjoyable, but it's best if borrowed from the library. The killer is exposed to the reader too early in the story and the chapters very annoying. Just because the characters have a new thought or the writings describe something happening in another room or building during the same timeline doesn't validify creating a new chapter. The bumbling sheriff was humorous and the profiler was practically a carbon copy of Thomas Harris' Agent Starling which got tiresome very quickly. I enjoyed the begining and ending 20 chapters or so, while the middle 80 could've benefited greatly from an editor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When Ms. Kava had sent me the first nine chapters of this novel in an email ms in the spring of '99, I had to admit that I was hooked by page one. It was agonizing for me to have to wait another year and a half to read the rest of my friend's book. However, I had guessed at the killer's identity and Jefferys's relationship to him after reading the first nine chapters. I'm glad (and sorry) to say that I was right.

Kava sets up a compelling, if thread-worn story (the book's crimes are based on an actual series of child-murders in Kava's small Nebraska hometown. Even the date for Jefferys's execution is slavishly cribbed from the original date), using a near-expert POV that threatens to rival Jeffery Deaver's. The book, despite the annoying pseudo-romantic distractions, still maintains a pace like a Mac truck on a steep grade with the brakes out.

The backstory, too, regarding Albert Stucky and FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell is compelling and Kava expertly sets up an immediate demand for the sequel in the last page.

What bothers me about this book, and these points have been brought up time and again by earlier reviewers, is that Ms. Kava knows nothing or next-to-nothing about FBI profiling and protocol, municipal law enforcement procedure and a hundred other topics. There isn't enough actual romance to make the relationship between Nick and Maggie to qualify A PERFECT EVIL as a romance (even though Mira is an imprint of Harlequin). Yet Maggie's pheramonal reaction to the lady-killer sheriff merely subtracts from her already fading credibility as an FBI profiler and an independent, professional woman.

In the end, I have to say that A PERFECT EVIL, while it confirmed my suspicions regarding the killer's identity (which, regardless of the plethora of obligatory red herrings, is easily discernible long before the end), it fell far short of my expectations. Hopefully, Ms. Kava's sequel, SPLIT SECOND, will be a more mature and accomplished effort.

Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms.Kava's first book contains every tired cliche in the mystery genre.There is the kindly old priest,the wicked cleric, the sinister sextant, the slimy deputy, the dominerring father,the sexy secretary(everyone is sexy and horny),children that we don't even get to know.All are forgettable characters, and the children have no charater, just names which is her inadequate substitute for letting us develop a relationship with these tragic victims.But she sure bludgeons us with sexual references. She cannot refrain from mentioning raging hormones for more than two paragraphs.Every glance and motion is an invitation to the sack. Her hero,a misogynist, (who is brilliant, supposedly, Harvard Law, etc. is doltish and non-perceptive at the same time) would fit better on the front of a Romance novel, and the FBI profiler is unbelievable, at best. The ending is predictable;I was glad when I finished the book. She makes little errors, like'coffee with congealed cream and sugar'(that doesn't happen) and 'most hotels showers are lukewarm' Doesn't this priest have any control by his bishop? Most of these people appear rather stupid, especially the men who vary from mediocre to evil. The constant refferal to sex is boring. 'The sensation went from her stomach to her groin area'(or some such blather). Really! What a bore.
TheoClarke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Readable and largely unremarkable murder mystery marred by stereotypical characters.