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One False Move [Hardcover]

Alex Kava
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2004 Kava, Alex
Melanie Starks has never lived her life by the rules. She and her seventeen-year-old-son, Charlie, have been running one con job or another for as long as she can remember, justifying the petty crimes as the necessary survival moves of a single mother. But Melanie is getting sick of that life, and she's more than a little worried that Charlie is enjoying the high of being a thief just a bit to much.

Then Jared Barnett reappears in her life.

Jared has just gotten out of prison after serving five years of a life sentence for murder. Released on a technicality that by no means proved his innocence, Jared shows up on Melanie's doorstep. There's something different about Jared, a dangerous edge that comes from feeling more invincible than ever. He ahs the perfect plan for a big score and he needs Melanie and Charlie's help. Deciding this will be the last job she ever pulls, Melanie agrees to Jared's plan to rob a local Nebraska bank.

But everything goes terribly wrong.

As Melanie waits in a car outside, Jared and Charlie enter the bank. Seconds later, Melanie hears gunfire and both men run out, empty-handed and yelling at her to drive. Refusing to tell her what happened in those few desperate moments, the men have formed a silent bond, one that terrifies Melanie to the core. Because she's been shut out.

After outrunning a police chase, Melanie, Jared and Charlie take refuge in a remote cabin in the Platte River State Park. They take as hostage its occupant, Andrew Kane, a writer who's shut himself away to finish his latest novel.

When Melanie learns that six people were shot dead in the back, she is left to wonder who did what. Who lost control, Jared or Charlie? And why did things turn so bad so quickly? One thing is clear: A line has been crossed. Suddenly there's no turning back, and there is nothing left to lose.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Nebraskan suspense author Kava takes a break from her successful series featuring FBI Special Agent Maggie O'Dell (At the Stroke of Madness; Split Second) with this psychological thriller about the fallout from an abortive bank robbery. The principal players are Jared Barnett, just released by his shady attorney's machinations from a life sentence for murder; his docile sister, Melanie Starks; and her 17-year-old son, Charlie, to whom Jared is a father figure. Just as their lives seem to be approaching normalcy, Jared scopes out a bank heist and bullies his sister and nephew into helping him. Mel is designated driver in the high-risk chase that begins right after Jared and Charlie, empty-handed, flee the bank. In a remote state park cabin, Andrew Kane, a writer, happens to be alone when they appear and Mel, shocked, learns from his TV that four people were killed in the holdup. Then she remembers the childhood that she and Jared were cheated out of—a mother who washed down pills with vodka while their father mercilessly beat the children until Jared took matters into his own hands. Victims accumulate as fast as the escape route changes, while abbreviated chapters and truncated dialogue signal the approaching explosive climax. This is a one-night read with some unexplained loose ends that won't bother readers hooked on hair-raising car chases and gruesome murder scenes.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for the novels of Alex Kava:
“Kava uses a strong supporting cast to provide Scarpetta-like authenticity and the pyschological insights of Alex Delaware...Add to that a clever surprise ending, and this one is sure to be spotted all over the beach by summer’s end.” —Publishers Weekly on The Soul Catcher

“Alex Kava’s thriller is a roller-coaster ride. Although your heart is in your throat the entire time, you enjoy every scary minute.” —Woman’s Own on A Perfect Evil

“A well-crafted page turner...”—Publishers Weekly on A Perfect Evil
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it. July 29 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I did enjoy this book. I didn't like it as much as the authors other books, and not just because it is her first without Maggie being involved. I didn't give it 5 stars because I felt that it lacked the authors usual in-depth writing; it seemed that this was more of a superficial story than usual. The characters were interesting and I enjoyed the story concept. Despite my minor complaints I would totally recommend this book to any one who is interested.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Revolutionary, Just Good Sept. 26 2006
By Kevin L. Nenstiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Alex Kava's first free-standing suspense novel freely adapts from the author's personal experience, adding on elements of the Charles Starkweather murder spree, to create a story of violence and confusion on a sprawl across Nebraska that harkens back to the bleak despair of Terrence Malick's "Badlands" and Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska."

Jared Barnett, freed from Death Row by a crooked lawyer and a coerced testimony, teams with his sister, a small-time con woman, and her son, a professional shoplifter. They arrange to rob a bank to pay off Jared's debts, but when shots are fired and four people are left for dead, they sprint for the country. Crime novelist Andrew Kane has isolated himself at Platte River State Park, trying to kick-start his newest novel, but his isolation turns on him when the three killers stumble on his nest and take him hostage.

Platte River State Park is real, as is the Nebraska Bank of Commerce branch the killers mishandle, and the towns of Auburn and Hastings, where key moments of the plot take place. It's disconcerting to think that I may have slept in the cabin where Andrew Kane was taken hostage. The novel clips along at a short pace, with scenes so cinematic that I can almost see the blackouts and the camera pulling focus. By releasing hints of the characters' past in measured amounts and making us wonder where their loyalties lie, Alex Kava keeps the pages turning to the end.

There's nothing really new or revolutionary in this novel. It's probably not a classic of the genre. But it is well-paced, intriguing, peopled with interesting characters, and a cracking good read. Good airport reading or something to keep in your desk for your coffee breaks, this novel is a worthwhile investment for fans of suspense fiction.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable Aug. 30 2004
By Tracy L. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Reading this book is a great way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. While it was a quick read, it was still very intriguing and suspenseful and I never lost interest. The story came together quite nicely and I was pleased with the outcome (including a nice little twist at the end.) This is the kind of book you could read while waiting in line at the DMV. Definitely recommend this one.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chilling Work from Beginning to End Aug. 21 2004
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
One does not immediately think of the flatlands as a hotbed of crime. Yet there must be something about the region that flips a switch, that causes madness to boil over. Bonnie and Clyde, Charles Starkweather...it doesn't happen often, but when it does, it occurs on a large and terrible scale. Two such eruptions inspired and propelled ONE FALSE MOVE, Alex Kava's latest novel.

Kava has achieved critical and popular acclaim with her Maggie O'Dell stories, so a stand-alone novel such as ONE FALSE MOVE would seem to be a bit of a risk at this point. Any question about whether ONE FALSE MOVE might impede Kava's momentum, however, is resolved within the first few pages of this breathtaking work.

ONE FALSE MOVE begins with convicted murderer Jared Barnett being freed from prison as the result of a successful appeal by his attorney, Max Kramer. Barnett, flush with an adrenalin rush from his undeserved freedom, immediately begins picking his life up from where he left off, drawing his sister, Melanie Starks, and her son, Charlie, into the evil vortex of his life. Melanie is a roiling mass of contradictions. She appears on the surface to be a victim, buffeted this way and that by Barnett's influence --- yet she has a quietly amoral lifestyle that is, in its way, almost as unsettling as Barnett's, even if her wrongdoings don't achieve the magnitude of his. Or maybe they do, given that she has drawn Charlie into it, teaching him the ways of theft and graft without hesitation or regret.

Charlie, already propelled down a dark path by his mother, easily falls under Barnett's sway, to the degree that when Barnett plans a bank robbery with Charlie's assistance, Melanie is the last to know. She grudgingly goes along with the plan, and accordingly finds herself on the run with her brother and son when things go horribly wrong. There is no turning back for any of them, particularly Melanie, who finds herself horrified as the violence around her escalates with each passing hour, drawing herself and her son deeper and deeper into the quagmire into which her brother is leading them.

ONE FALSE MOVE is a chilling work from beginning to end. Kava's portrayal of Charlie Starks is unsettling; the similarity of his name to the notorious, real-life Starkweather and their identical interests contrast with Starks's unwitting innocence and childlike demeanor. Melanie's dull-witted acceptance of her situation is all too familiar; she yearns for a better life, but lacks the desire to make the effort to change. The mix of personalities and situations leaves the reader wondering from page to page what will happen next. Indeed, Kava saves one of the most unsettling moments of ONE FALSE MOVE for the final page.

While Kava will undoubtedly continue to achieve well-deserved success with her O'Dell novels, ONE FALSE MOVE is a fascinating tale, darkly drawn and brilliantly told.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars DARK SWITCH FROM MAGGIE O'DELL Sept. 8 2004
By Michael Butts - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is one of those books that's hard to judge. Alex Kava has proven in her Maggie O'Dell novels that she is a good writer, giving us complex plots and characters we care about.

In ONE FALSE MOVE, Kava leaves O'Dell behind and focuses on a dark story involving a mother and her son, who have been thieves all their lives, and her recently released brother, who had a fancy lawyer get him off death row for murder. We know that Jared Barnett, the killer, did kill the young lady, and now he's out to repay his lawyer's debt. Also involved is a prosecutor named Grace, a cop named Tommy Pakula and a writer named Andrew Kane. While the narrative is well written, ultimately one has to step back and admit that Melanie, Charlie and Jared are not likeable characters, and that's who we spend the most time with.

Once again, abused children are forgiven for their behavior because they suffered so much. And even with the "trick ending," we knew all along who was really responsible for the Barnett's father's murder. Melanie lets her brother control her; let's her brother ruin her 18 year old son's life; and stands by while her brother and her son murder innocent people. And then in the end, mother and son get off pretty easy, in spite of what they've done.

So, here you have a well written novel, but I can't agree with Kava's message here.

I look forward to her return to the O'Dell series.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tense and wild ride... Aug. 6 2004
By Huntress Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There is a difference between "not guilty" and "innocent". Crossing that fine line releases Jared Barret from prison, returning him to his sister's life, drawing Melanie and her son Charlie into a crime spree that results in murder. Now the three are on the run, guilty of murder, bank robbery, and hostage taking. Behind them, the police search for the truth, and nothing but fear lies ahead.

**** Going in a new direction from her Maggie O'Dell stories, Alex Kava takes readers on a tense and wild ride. Fans of Grisham or Turrow will appreciate this new dimension to her writing. ****

Reviewed by Amanda Killgore for Huntress Reviews.
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