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
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
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 (www.veteransbookfair.org)
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."