Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Alex Kava

Anchor Books
July 2014 / ISBN 9781455856893

Reviewed by Elise Cooper


Stranded by Alex Kava is a very intense thriller that involves a violent serial killer. What makes this book stand out is the ratio of heroines to heroes, more than two to one. The female characters all have different personalities, and yet they all share a similar trait, that they can fend for themselves.

The plot has non-stop action with many twists and turns that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. FBI Special Agent Maggie O'Dell is assigned to find a serial killer who searches for victims at rest stops and prefers two at a time. He enjoys having the victims face the challenge of who shall live and who shall die, who will be the one to be sacrificed. The tired travelers stop at rest areas on US highways to refuel, grab a bite, or get some shut-eye, as this becomes the killer's hunting ground. Maggie and her partner, R. J. Tully, race against the clock to find this horrific murderer. The FBI enlists the help of Ryder Creed, a dog handler, for search and rescue as well as cadaver hunting to find the bodies decapitated by the serial killer. The novel takes place within a week's time as the protagonists' piece together clues to find and stop this murderer.

The heroines are numerous in this book. Maggie is a fascinating character who has a great sense of right and wrong. She has a cool professional demeanor and never lets her personal demons interfere with her job. Her good friend and mentor, Dr. Gwen Patterson, is brought to the task force as a forensic psychologist consultant. Hannah is a business partner to Ryder, but more of a mother hen to him and other veterans who have become lost souls.

Kava commented, "I wanted to write female role models that can get out of tight spots without the cavalry, male colleagues coming to the rescue. I made many heroines on purpose because of the need for more female heroes and female role models that women can look up to and aspire to be. We all need to be reminded that there are different expectations and standards, including women protagonists of thrillers. For example, my character, Maggie, can't drink and can't sleep around like the guys. There are different sets of standards for women FBI agents as well. These quotes I put in my latest books were from a FBI agent I met at Quantico, 'For ten years she had fought to be treated no different than her male colleagues. She discovered early on that it was best not to remind her male colleagues that she was different…not to wear form fitting suits, no jewelry, no spiked heels, nothing pink.'"

Another heroine is Grace, one of Creed's search and rescue dogs. Anyone with a passion for dogs will enjoy the scenes with her. She is feisty, scrappy, independent, eager to learn, anxious to please, loveable, and very driven. Readers can grasp an understanding of the duties that a handler and the dogs go through. While Hannah rescues veterans, Creed rescues dogs and then trains them, receiving their unconditional trust and loyalty.

Stranded has women characters that are smart and empowered. It has an intense and harrowing plot with many twists and turns. Readers should make sure they have some free time because they will not want to put this novel down.

Kava also gave a heads up about her next book due out in January, Breaking Creed. It is a spin-off of sorts from the Maggie O'Dell series. It will switch the prominent character from Maggie to Ryder. Both series of books will include Maggie and Creed, but will alternate between who is the secondary and primary character.

On a side note Kava would like to see fans come out and say hi at the Veteran Benefit Book Fair ( in San Diego on November 8th. She noted, "I have a deep respect and am in awe for those in the military. I send books to different service members and try to connect with them. I am doing this to show my appreciation."

Reviewed 2014