At the Stroke of Madness

Started reading this earlier today and just finished it.  The book is by Alex Kava and reminds me why she is one of my favorite authors. 

The story is about a man whose mother had been poisoning him with small amounts of arsenic for years until her death.  He didn’t realize at the time that is what she was doing – she told him it was medicine for his upset stomach.  Apparently, she had also poisoned his father over several years until he died of “natural” causes. 

The boy had severe stomach pains, vomiting, and no energy.  His mother did this, of course, because she had Munchausen’s which means she craved the attention people gave her because she had to nurse maid first a sickly husband and then a sickly child.  His mother would take him to the hospital emergency room where they never found anything wrong with him and even suggested he was a nervous child who needed mental help because he was imagining his illness.

Therefore, when he grew into a man, he became jealous of those who actually had something wrong with them that was tangible – a brain tumor, breast cancer, bone spurs, bad eyes, etc.  He hated that they could whine about their illness when for so many years he had been told his was all in his imagination.  So he decided that he would cut out the deformities that gave them attention – it meant killing the people but he felt if he could possess their deformities he would somehow be more justified with his own illness.

The book stars Agent Maggie O’Dell who is the FBI profiler Alex created for this series of books.  I like Maggie – she is tough yet also vulnerable.  This is the 4th book in the Maggie O’Dell series that I am re-reading.  It has been years since I started reading Alex and my only complaint about her books is that she takes so damn long to put one out – sometimes it is two years in between books.

The next book is “A Necessary Evil” which brings back the priest Michael Keller from the first book.  Father Michael Keller liked to kill young children who he thought was abused or ignored by their parents.  He felt that he was releasing them from their troubled lives.  He was never caught though I do believe book 5 takes care of that for us.

My next book to read now is “Buried Prey” by John Sandford.  I don’t think I will start it today – think I will wait until my days off as I have several projects at work that need my attention.  The “Prey” novels star Lucas Davenport – I started reading them after my sister loaned me “Winter Prey” which was the 3rd or 4th one in the series.  Of course then I had to go back to the beginning and read all of them – there are over 20 now.  🙂  Sure wish I could write like that.

As always, I give Alex Kava five out of five stars.  My only complaint, still, is that she goes into a lot of forensic detail while doing autopsies.  I really don’t need to know that kind of stuff – don’t need those things invading my dreams to create nightmares.


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