A Necessary Evil
Alex Kava. Mira Books, $21.95 (413pp) ISBN 978-0-7783-2274-0
In bestseller Kava's derivative fifth thriller to feature Maggie O'Dell (after 2003's At the Stroke of Madness), the beautiful FBI profiler and recovering alcoholic suspects that more than one killer is involved in a spate of nationwide murders of Catholic priests. When Father Michael Keller, himself a serial killer, becomes a target, he tries to strike a bargain with Maggie in order to save his life. Their relationship will remind many of that between Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter, just as Maggie's drinking problems sound a lot like those of the better realized heroes of James Lee Burke or Lawrence Block. The book's most original concept is an online computer game run by a not-so-mysterious figure called the Sin Eater that allows young victims to ""kill"" the priests who abused them. Heavy-handed clues, a tacked-on love interest and characters who behave less than credibly won't deter Kava's fans, who'll find the usual graphic gore, from the requisite maggots to autopsy details like ""that sucking sound when the brain is pulled out after the top of the skull is sawed off.""
Reviewed on: 01/30/2006