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Damaged: A Maggie O'Dell Novel [Kindle Edition]

Alex Kava
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)

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Book Description

New York Times bestselling author Alex Kava joins the Doubleday list with her best novel yet.

On Pensacola Beach, the Coast Guard prepares for a Category 5 hurricane that has entered the Gulf of Mexico. When the air crew patrols the waterways, they spot a huge fishing cooler about a mile offshore. Drug traffickers have been known to dump coolers with smuggled product to avoid detection and pay fishermen to retrieve them. But when the crew open this cooler, they’re shocked by what they find: body parts tightly wrapped in plastic.

Though she is putting herself in the projected path of the hurricane, Special Agent Maggie O’Dell is sent to investigate. Eventually, she’s able to trace the torso in the cooler back to a man who mysteriously disappeared weeks earlier after a hurricane hit Port St. Lucie, Florida. Only Port St. Lucie is on the Atlantic side. How did his body end up six hundred miles away in the Gulf of Mexico?

Cliffhanger chapters, behind-the-scenes forensic details, colorful characters, and satisfying twists have become the trademarks of Kava’s psychological thrillers. In Damaged, she ratchets up the suspense a notch by sending Maggie into the eye of an impending monster hurricane to track down a killer.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Alex Kava's Stranded.

Editorial Reviews Review

Steve Berry Reviews Damaged

Steve Berry is the author of six thrillers in the bestselling Cotton Malone series (The Templar Legacy, The Alexandria Link, The Venetian Betrayal, The The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Paris Vendetta, and The Emperor's Tomb), and three stand-alone thrillers (The Amber Room, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Third Secret). Read his guest review of Damaged:

Alex Kava is a master. Her heroine, Special Agent Maggie O'Dell, is one of the classic characters of the thriller genre. Maggie's adventures have taken her to small-town America, and into the Catholic Church, bringing her face-to-face with some sick individuals. But that's her job. She's a criminal profiler. And good at it. Now, in Damaged, Maggie is thrust into the eye of an impending monster hurricane to track down another killer.

Alex Kava has a knack for the macabre. This time she hooks the reader when a fishing cooler is found floating in the Gulf of Mexico filled with a human torso, one foot, and three hands, all tightly wrapped in plastic. Despite the fact that a Category 5 hurricane is just off shore, and headed her way, Maggie is sent to investigate. Resources are limited. All law enforcement is focused on evacuation and emergency preparations. It's Maggie's job to find out what's going on, but when she discovers that the remains belong to a man who mysteriously disappeared weeks earlier, after another hurricane hit on Florida’s Atlantic Ocean side, the real trouble begins.

There's a ton more to this story, but I don't want to give away too much. Let's just say that it's unexpected. Once again Alex Kava has concocted a tale similar to speeding at a hundred miles an hour down a giant slalom course, with all its associated twists and turns. The whole thing starts fast and gets faster. Maggie O'Dell is a brilliant and complicated heroine--at once witty, smart, and detailed, but always highly entertaining. Damaged is a book from a writer who knows how to deliver exactly what readers want. Alex Kava is in the top echelon of suspense masters and this one is not to be missed.

Questions for Alex Kava on Damaged

Q: Where did the inspiration for Damaged come from? Why did you decide to send Maggie O’Dell into the path of a deadly hurricane?
A: In spring of 2004 I bought a house on the bay just outside of Pensacola. Six months later Hurricane Ivan hit. Nine months after that, it was Dennis. I’ve lived most of my life in tornado country so I thought I was prepared for hurricanes. The anxiety and anticipation is excruciating. And nothing prepares you for the aftermath. It’s hard to explain. It may sound a bit clichéd but there’s a transformation that takes place when you experience something like that, especially as a community. I’ve been wanting to throw Maggie into the path of a hurricane ever since.

Q: You write in great detail about FBI processes and forensic investigations. How did you do research in these areas?
A: Real experts are still the best sources of information. I've been very fortunate to have contacts in a variety of law enforcement and forensic fields, people I can call or email with questions. Some have become close friends who share details of their cases with me over dinner. I’ve also had the privilege of visiting Quantico, and was able to spend some time down in the Behavioral Science Unit talking to special agents who do every day what I only write about.

What I don’t know, I read, constantly. I now have an extensive library of my own and anyone who checked my laptop’s cache would probably be shocked to see the types of websites I surf on a regular basis.

Q: In Damaged, you write about the black market for human organs. Where did that idea come from and how did you research?
A: Several years ago I read a special report in USA Today about the illegal body parts business. It mentioned a case in Brooklyn involving a body broker and several funeral homes that were stealing tissue and bone from corpses, in some instances, replacing the bones with PVC piping and hiding the theft by sewing the bodies back up. Sometimes entire bodies were stolen instead of being sent to the crematory. The indictment charged that as many as 1,000 bodies may have stolen by this one group.

It fascinated me how greed could literally eviscerate a solemn practice that we take for granted and expect to be treated with dignity and respect.

From then on I started searching for and saving anything I could find on the subject. I read several books including Annie Cheney’s Body Brokers and Kathy Braidhill’s Chop Shop.

Q: Tell us about Maggie O’Dell. Where did the inspiration for her character come from, and is she based on a real life person?
A: I never intended for Maggie to be a series character, so she’s had to evolve and reveal herself to me with each novel. In the beginning with A Perfect Evil Maggie was a tough, young FBI agent driven much more by impulse and passion. She’s matured a bit, though still driven to do the right thing. I think Maggie’s a lot more accepting of who she is and less apologetic of how she goes about doing her job.

She’s not, however, based on any one person and although she and I share some personality traits--our unintentional abuse of fine leather shoes and our love of college football--Maggie’s certainly not my alter ego. For one thing she’s much braver than I am.

Q: Critics and fans alike have found your heroine, Special Agent Maggie O’Dell, very appealing. What is it about her that readers can’t get enough of?
A: I have to admit I’m not sure what it is, because sometimes Maggie drives me crazy. What I hear from readers is they like that Maggie’s not a superhero. They can relate to her. Yes, she might be an excellent profiler but she failed at her marriage and struggles with her personal relationships. She has flaws. She makes mistakes. But the bottom line is that Maggie does the right thing even when it’s not the easy thing, even when it gets her in trouble or puts her in danger. I think readers admire that about her.

Q: What’s next? Can you give us a preview of your next novel, and will we see more of Maggie O’Dell?
A: Maggie will be back in Hotwire. Her boss sends her to the Midwest to investigate cattle mutilations in the area and Maggie stumbles upon a bizarre triple murder of some local teenagers.

(Alex Kava Photo © Deborah Groh Carlin)

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of Kava's exciting, if grisly, eighth Maggie O'Dell novel (after Black Friday), Liz Bailey, a 27-year-old Coast Guard rescue swimmer, retrieves a stainless steel cooler from Florida's Pensacola Bay. Inside are human body parts. FBI special agent Maggie and Charlie Wurth, the Department of Homeland Security's deputy director, once again team to investigate. Meanwhile, Maggie's hunky new boyfriend, Col. Benjamin Platt, comes to Florida in search of monstrous bacteria killing too many soldiers. The two cases connect through a body-parts broker who calls himself Joe Black. Black may be as charming as Brad Pitt, who played Death in the film Meet Joe Black, but he's a cold-blooded murderer who uses natural disasters and shady funeral directors, like Liz's brother-in-law, to stock his business. Maggie must venture into the eye of Hurricane Isaac as this intense thriller builds to an eye-popping revelation that will leave fans eager for the sequel. 6-city author tour.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1955 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B004GGUGJ4
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (July 13, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S4AKO
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,171 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but a little short May 29, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the 8th novel in the Maggie O'Dell series. I have not read any of the earlier books so I can't compare it to the others in the series. It is usually a mistake to jump into a long-running series without reading the earlier books. A good writer grows the characters over time and it is difficult to put that into a later book without boring all the long-term fans to tears. I knew I would enjoy this book more if I had read others in the series but was too impatient to get to this book.

The story in this book definitely stands on its own -- you don't need to read any of the earlier books to follow along. But there are references in this book to past cases and relationships (especially Maggie's boss) and I think having read the rest of the series would have given me a deeper connection to Maggie. So my advice to potential new readers of this series is to not be as impatient as I was -- start at the beginning and catch up to this book.

One of the reasons I was interested in this book is that I love thrillers with strong women characters. This book has two: Maggie O'Dell and a Liz Bailey, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. I liked Liz as much as Maggie.

There were two interesting twists to the plot in this book. First, the weather is almost a character on its own and is a critical part of the plot. At the beginning of the book, a hurricane is a few days away and heading for Pensacola. Never having lived in hurricane country, I wish the author had painted a better word picture of what it is like -- both atmospherically and socially -- in a Gulf Coast city when a hurricane is on the way. There was some but it felt more like the author was telling the reader what was happening rather than showing.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good suspense novel May 25, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Although we're used to FBI agent Maggie O'Dell as the pursuer of serial killers, she gets a break from that in this book; deployed to Pensacola as a hurricane bears down, she investigates a cooler full of carefully-wrapped body parts that was found floating in the Gulf. The story also is told from the perspective of Liz Bailey, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer who recovers the cooler, and Maggie's "friend," Dr. Benjamin Platt, who is also sent to Pensacola, to investigate a strange epidemic of deaths among hospitalized soldiers who have returned from the Middle East.

The book is good, but not great. The prose is not very tight, and suspense novels, above all, need that. The New York Times has praised Kava's "cliffhanger chapters," but I think they interrupt the story too often. Characterization seems over-simplified and pretty much every person you meet has Drama of some major sort -- nobody is ordinary, which is a little exhausting and also doesn't make for verisimilitude.

One of the pre-release plugs for the book is from an author whose new book I just finished, Lee Child. His quote indicates that Kava's "O'Dell could be Reacher's long-lost twin." I think that does a tremendous disservice to Child's hero, Jack Reacher. The Child book was tremendously suspenseful and really, really fun to read, while this one was a bit of a chore. Like a British drawing room farce, you're waiting for the characters to find out what the other ones know to solve the crime. For me, at least, that doesn't create suspense so much as it does frustration.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A Coast Guard helicopter finds a fisherman's cooler bobbing in the water off the Florida coast. When officials open the cooler, they are surprised to find body parts.

A massive hurricane is heading toward the Gulf of Mexico. FBI criminal profiler, Maggie O'Dell is asked to help on the case and see what she can determine from the body parts. She and Charile Wurth, of homeland security, travel to Pensacola, Florida as the hurricane heads in their direction.

Elsewhere, soldiers who have lost limbs in Afghanistan, are now coming down with some toxic ailment. A number of the soldiers have died and many are very ill. Officials are trying to determine the cause.

Also in Pensecola, undertaker, Scot Larsen has made an agreement with Joe Black so that Black could accept delivery and provide storage for some human body parts that Black would pick up in route to his doctors' conferences.

I enjoyed this story and the characters. The imminent arrival of hurricane Ivan, which has become a cat five hurricane, adds to the suspense. Things would need to be resolved quickly so that Maggie and others would have time to get to safety before they are trapped by the storm.

Alex Kava does a professional job with this thriller. Maggie and Liz Bailey, a Coast Guard dive team member, are intelligent, assertive characters who demonstrate excellent problem solving ability. Scot Larsen is a bumbler who does about everything he could, incorrectly, he is a somewhat interesting comic figure.

Some of the puzzles in the story were too obvious as was the identity of the antagonist. The suspense was in how the person would be caught and how many more victims would fall before authorities stopped him.

I took this book on vacation and enjoyed it thoroughly. I plan to look into other novels by this talented author.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great author.
Published 2 months ago by Sandy
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent addition to one of my favorite series
There are a lot of very good books out there that belong to this particular genre. Many to most of our popular `A List' author's creations are all within this particular category. Read more
Published 2 months ago by D. Blankenship
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best or most exciting book I've read but it held ...
Not the best or most exciting book I've read but it held my attention throughout and I really like the Maggie O'Dell series
Published 3 months ago by Judy Waters
3.0 out of 5 stars Not nearly as gripping as the earlier Maggie O'Dell novels. Just ok...
This book was not suspenseful, I knew what was going happen next...surprising and
disappointing as I usually really enjoy her stories.
Published 4 months ago by Trish
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Alex did it again!
Published 4 months ago by Bookwyrm
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant read!
Published 5 months ago by Kim Ludmila Cox
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read
This is the first time I have read this author. I enjoyed this book very much. The writer was recommended by a friend and I am now hooked. Read more
Published 5 months ago by JillyB
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm a big fan of Alex Kava and her character ...
I'm a big fan of Alex Kava and her character Maggie O'Dell. Have told all my friends to read the whole series starting at the beginning. (Google for the list)
Published 6 months ago by Mel Lewis, NZPGA
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expect from Alex Kava
I'm still not sure what happened in this novel. I kept waiting for Maggie to step it up and for the story line to grab me like it usually does in a Maggie O'Dell mystery...but... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Keith Kilgore
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 7 months ago by JoAnn Milliner
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