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KIA: A Dr. Kel McKelvey Novel Hardcover – January 1, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Kel McKelvey Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As the scientific director of the Department of Defense's central identification laboratory, Holland is responsible for identifying unknown U.S. war dead. In this strong sequel to One Drop of Blood (2006), Kel McKelvey has similar duties, though he's in the professional doldrums thanks to an officious and procedure-bound superior. Then McKelvey gets the chance to leave his Hawaii laboratory to help sort out the mystery surrounding Jimmy Tenkiller, a Native American who went missing shortly before his tour of duty in Vietnam was scheduled to end and whose remains the Vietnamese may have just turned over to present-day American authorities. As McKelvey searches for evidence to establish the dead man's identity, he becomes involved in a cross-country search for a murderer with possible ties to Tenkiller and a corrupt cabal of former South Vietnamese officers. Holland skillfully portrays the complexities of the U.S. relationship with its South Vietnamese allies during the war, while keeping readers guessing the killer's identity to the end. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Thomas Holland is presently the Scientific Director of the Department of Defense's Central Identification Laboratory, the largest skeletal identification laboratory in the world. In this position he has led forensic recoveries around the world, from the barren deserts of Iraq to the steamy jungles of Vietnam to the snow-covered mountains of North Korea. In 1993, while conducting a recovery near the Killing Fields of Cambodia, his team came under a Khmer Rouge rocket attack and was forced to withdraw from its base camp under fire.

In the relative quiet of the Central Identification Laboratory, Holland holds the awesome responsibility for approving the identifications of all U.S. military personnel from past military conflicts. During his tenure this has included over 1000 soldiers from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War -- including the Vietnam Unknown Soldier from Arlington National Cemetery.

Holland received a bachelor's degree in fine art from the University of Missouri and a Master's degree and a Doctorate degree in anthropology from the same institution. He worked as an archaeologist and museum curator before taking a position with the Department of Defense. He is one of less than 80 Diplomates of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, a member of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, a member of the Council of Federal Forensic Laboratory Directors, and a consultant to the New York State Police. He routinely briefs high-ranking military and government officials including the secretaries of State and Defense, and has served in scientific advisory roles to the National Institute of Justice and the International Commission on Missing Persons.

Holland and his laboratory are frequently featured on such programs as Discovery, Nightline, 60 Minutes, National Public Radio, and Nova.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (January 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743280016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743280013
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,305,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thomas Holland's books grab me on a number of levels. First and foremost, they are good solid mysteries with the necessary twists and turns that keep you guessing. Second,they bring in forensic anthropology (Bones) and Military CID (NCIS), what's not to like?

As in One Drop of Blood, Holland uses the retrieval of a body from Vietnam and it's identification by the Army's Central Identification Lab in Hawaii as the springboard to solving a mystery that spans from the US war in Vietnam to murders in the present day. Anyone with knowlege of, or having ties to the military should find additional interest in this book. As a good mystery should, the who and the why are not completely solved until the last page.
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Format: Hardcover
A great read. It is a must for any person that served in the military or who has any interest in forensic science. There is the usual disclaimer that the characters do not resemble living persons. They are the most realistic characters I have found in a work of fiction. The plot has to be based on actual events it is so striking. Leave an adequete amount of time to read this because I went cover to cover, not being able to put it down. The ending is a shocker and superb.
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Format: Hardcover
This book, the second Dr. Kel McKelvey forensic mystery, was even better than the first, A Drop of Blood, (loved that one too). Dr. Kel is a forensic anthropologist who gets tangled up in trying to identify a soldier from the Vietnam War and ends up in the midst of several current murder cases.
Being a working mom I don't have a lot of time to read, so when I finally devote time to reading I want to be certain that I will not be wasting my time. I enjoyed this book very much. The story is complex but so very intriguing that you will not want to put it down. I'm pretty good at guessing the ending of a book about two-thirds of the way through but this time I was very surprised.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the first of Holland's two novels that I've read. I hadn't a clue what was going on until the very end, and then he tossed in a ringer. Great story, just enough of the forensic stuff to show what that's all about, and excellent job of unraveling the puzzle without giving it away too soon.

I went immediately to "One Drop of Blood" after I finished this one and found it impossible to put down - haven't read one of those in a long time. Couldn't solve this one either along the way, and, of course, there was a final zinger. I know a couple of FBI agents, and Mike Levine nailed them pretty good. I hope Mr. Holland has more of these stories on the way.
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Format: Hardcover
I have one word to share with you about this book - WOW! Thomas Holland sure does have a talent when it comes to writing.

An element of Kel's character that I love is his aversion to the telephone. This is represented in both ONE DROP OF BLOOD and K.I.A. I love this characteristic because I share this aversion with him. But the way Holland portrays it is absolutely hilarious. Kel's wittiness is sharp and believable!

The plot in this story is absolutely phenomenal. It's tight, concise; no unnecessary fluff. Each character, each event plays an essential part in the overall story. And the plot twists are stellar. I like Holland's effect of ending a chapter leaving the reader knowing that what he/she initially thought was going to happen, isn't really the direction the plot is going after all, and at the same time, the reader doesn't know now what IS going to happen. You find yourself saying, "just one more chapter" so many times because you have to find out just where Holland is taking you next.

The last point I want to mention about K.I.A. is Holland's use of language. There aren't a lot of writers that really WOW me with their use of language, but Holland has made that distinguished list. There is often a stereotype associated with Southern dialect and colloquialisms. But Kel uses both of these in his dialogue and you as the reader, still respect Kel as an intelligent, educated, competent professional. Holland beautifully breaks the stereotype and uses those devices to his benefit.

There doesn't tend to be an overwhelming amount of anthropological science in Holland's books. These are more plot focused, but I do love the way he works science into the framework, even in places you might not expect it to be.
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