Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Damaged" by Alex Kava

Special Agent Maggie O'Dell is sent to Florida, right in the eye of a high-category, destructive hurricane, to investigate the discovery of a cooler box that contains multiple body parts. Meanwhile, tentative love interest Colonel Benjamin Platt is sent off to investigate a mysterious disease that is killing wounded soldiers. Also thrown into the mix is Scott Larsen, a funeral director who is about to go into business with the mysterious Joe Black, whose business in dealing with body parts might not entirely be on the up-and-up. Maggie must uncover the link between her case and Platt's, whilst also surviving a deadly hurricane.

Although "Damaged" is better than Kava's previous "Black Friday", it is a seriously undercooked effort. At under 350 pages in a very large font with huge spacing, I was able to finish the entire book in just two lunch breaks. There is very little plot here. On a positive note, Maggie isn't the useless fumbling moron she usually is. And Kava does a good job in generating suspense regarding the arrival of the hurricane. I could feel the stillness in the air and the underlying panic of the characters. It was also nice to see that there was absolutely no sign of Nick Morelli, who kept popping up in other novels in increasingly ridiculous ways. Maggie and Benjamin's attraction suggests we might have finally seen the last of that character.

But seriously, this book is far too skimpy to deliver any sort of satisfactory thrills or mystery. The frequent jumping between points of view further reduces the opportunity to delve into the storyline to any degree of satisfaction. I am a little angry that a prominent author and publishing company would release something so thin. There's an Author's Note, some Acknowledgements, a short story and a preview of Kava's next novel all added to try and make the book look thicker! "Damaged" is diverting and served its purpose in that regard, but if Kava wants to retain any sort of readership, she needs to stop assuming that her readers are morons with short attention spans.

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