A Necessary Evil [NOOK Book]


When a monsignor is found knifed to death in a Nebraska airport restroom, FBI special agent Maggie O'Dell is called in to profile the ritualistic murder of a priest, the latest in a series of killings. Maggie soon discovers a disturbing Internet game that's popular among victims of abuse by Catholic priests. With this first real lead in the investigation, she wonders if the group has turned cyberspace justice into reality. Then Maggie gets a second lead—one that leaves her ...

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A Necessary Evil

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When a monsignor is found knifed to death in a Nebraska airport restroom, FBI special agent Maggie O'Dell is called in to profile the ritualistic murder of a priest, the latest in a series of killings. Maggie soon discovers a disturbing Internet game that's popular among victims of abuse by Catholic priests. With this first real lead in the investigation, she wonders if the group has turned cyberspace justice into reality. Then Maggie gets a second lead—one that leaves her stunned.

For the past four years she has been obsessed with finding Father Michael Keller, whose brutal acts against children continue to haunt her. Now, it seems, he has become a target. When Keller offers to help Maggie solve the ritual killings in exchange for protection, she decides to ally herself with the elusive child killer, stepping into a world of malevolence from which she may not return unscathed.

Maggie knows the bargain is a necessary evil…one that may be made in blood….

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460301487
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/17/2012
  • Series: A Maggie O'Dell Novel, #4
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 23,015
  • File size: 987 KB

Meet the Author

Alex Kava
ALEX KAVA’s four novels featuring FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell have been published in 18 countries and have appeared on numerous bestseller lists. Her most recent novel is One False Move. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Mystery Writers of America. Alex divides her time between Omaha, Nebraska and Florida.
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Read an Excerpt

Friday, July 2 Eppley Airport Omaha, Nebraska

Monsignor William O'sullivan was certain no one had recognized him. So why was his forehead damp? He hadn't gone through the security checkpoint yet. Instead, he had decided to wait until it got closer to his flight time. Just in case someone did recognize him. On this side, he could still pretend to be picking up a colleague rather than admit he was leaving.

He fidgeted in the plastic chair, clutching the leather portfolio closer to his chest. So close, so tight it seemed to crush his lungs, causing that pain again, a pain he may have dismissed too quickly as heartburn. But of course, it was only heartburn. He simply wasn't used to eating such a large meal for lunch, but he knew the flight to New York and the later one to Rome would include cardboard renditions of food, causing much more damage to his overly sensitive stomach than Sophia's leftover meat loaf and mashed potatoes did.

Yes, surely the leftovers were responsible for his discomfort, he told himself, and yet his eyes darted around the busy airport terminal, looking for a bathroom. He remained seated, not wanting to move until he examined and found an acceptable path. He shoved a thumb and index finger up under his wire-rim glasses to dig the fatigue out of his eyes, and then he began his search again.

he'd avoid the shortest route, not wanting to pass the exotic black woman handing out "reading material"—as she called it—to anyone too polite to say no. She wore colorful beads in her hair, what looked like her Sunday best dress with splashes of purple that made her hips even larger, but sensible shoes. Her smooth, deep voice almost made it a song when she asked, " Can I offer you some reading material?, And to everyone—including those who huffed their responses and rushed by—she greeted them with yet another melodic, polite stanza, " You have a most pleasant day."

Monsignor O'sullivan knew what her reading material was without seeing it. He supposed she was a sort of present-day missionary, in her own right. If he passed her, would she sense their connection? Both of them ministers, distributors of God's word. One in sensible shoes, another with a portfolio stuffed with secrets.

Better to avoid her.

He checked the Krispy Kreme counter. A long line of zombies waited patiently for their afternoon dose of energy, like drug addicts getting one more shot before their flight. To his right he watched the bookstore entrance, quickly glancing away when a young man in a baseball cap looked in his direction. Had the youth recognized him, despite his street clothes? His stomach churned while his eyes studied his shoes. His cotton-knit polo—a gift from his sister—was now sticking to his wet back. Over the loudspeakers came the repetitive message, warning travelers not to leave their luggage unattended. He clutched the portfolio, only now discovering that his palms were also slick with sweat. How in the world had he believed he could just leave without being noticed? That he could just get on a plane and be free, be absolved of all his indiscretions.

But when Monsignor O'sullivan dared to look again, the young man was gone. Passengers rushed by without a glance. Even the black woman greeting and passing out her reading material seemed totally unaware of his presence.

Paranoid. He was just being paranoid. Thirty-seven years of dedication to the church and what did he get for it? Accusations and finger-pointing when he deserved accolades of respect and gratitude. When he tried to explain his predicament to his sister, the anger had overwhelmed him, and all he had managed to tell her in their brief conversation was to have the title of the family's estate changed to her name only. "I won't let those bastards take our home."

He wished he were there now. It was nothing extravagant—a two-story split-timber on three acres in the middle of Connecticut, with walking trails surrounded by trees and mountains and sky. It was the only place he felt closest to God, and the irony made him smile. The irony that beautiful cathedrals and huge congregations had led him further and further away from God.

A squawk coming from near the escalator startled him back to reality. It sounded like a tropical bird, but was instead a toddler in full temper tantrum, his mother pulling him along, unfazed, as if she couldn't hear the screech. It grated on Monsignor O'sullivan's nerves, scratching them raw and resetting the tension so tight in his jaw that he feared he'd start grinding his teeth. It was enough to get him to his feet. He no longer cared about accessible paths, and he made his way to the restroom.

Thankfully, it was empty, yet he glanced under every stall to make certain. He set the portfolio at his feet, leaning it against his left leg, as if needing to maintain some contact. He removed his glasses and placed them on the corner of the sink. Then, avoiding his own blurred reflection, he waved his hands under the faucet, his frustration fueled by the lack of response. He swiped his hands back and forth, finally eliciting a short burst of water, barely wetting his fingertips. He swiped again. Another short burst. This time he closed his eyes and splashed as much as he could on his face, the cool dampness beginning to calm his nausea, beginning to quiet the sudden throbbing in his temples.

His hands groped for the paper-towel dispenser, ripping off more than he needed and gently dabbing, disgusted by the smell and harsh feel of the recycled paper. He hadn't even heard the bathroom door open. When he glanced in the mirror, Monsignor O'sullivan was startled to see a blurred figure standing behind him.

"I'm almost finished," he said, thinking he might be in the way, though there were other sinks. Why did he need to use this one? He noticed a faint metallic odor. Perhaps it was a member of the cleaning crew. An impatient one at that. He reached for his glasses, accidentally knocking them to the floor. Before he could bend down to retrieve them, an arm came around his waist. All he saw was a glint of silver. Then he felt the burn, the streak of pain, shooting up through his chest.

At the same time there was a whisper in his right ear— soft and gentle. "you're already finished, Monsignor O'sullivan."

Washington, D.C.

There was no easy way to pick up a human head.

At least that's what Special Agent Maggie O'dell had decided. She watched the scene below and sympathized with the young crime lab technician. Maggie wondered if that was exactly what he was thinking as he squatted in the mud, looking at it from yet another angle. Even Detective Julia Racine remained quiet, standing over him, but unable to offer any of her regular advice. It was the quietest Maggie had ever seen the detective.

Stan Wenhoff, chief medical examiner for the District, yelled down an instruction or two, but stayed beside Maggie on top of the embankment, not making any attempt to find a way down. Actually Maggie was surprised to see Stan on a Friday afternoon, especially at the beginning of a holiday weekend. Normally he would have sent one of his deputies, except that he wouldn't want to miss out on making headlines. And this case would certainly start making headlines now.

Maggie looked beyond the riverbank, out at the water and the city on the other side. Despite the usual terror alerts, the District was preparing for the weekend festivities, expecting sunny skies and cooler-than-average temperatures. Not that she had any big plans beyond lounging in the backyard with Harvey. She'd throw a couple of steaks on the grill, read the latest Jeffery Deaver.

She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear though the breeze immediately tugged another one free. Yes, it was an absolutely beautiful summer day, except for the decapitated head someone had discarded on the muddy riverbank. What level of evil did it take to slice another person's head completely off and leave it like a piece of trash? Her friend, Gwen Patterson, accused her of having an obsession with evil. Maggie didn't look at it so much as an obsession as an age-old quest. She had decided long ago that it was part of her job to root out evil and destroy it.

"Finish going through the surrounding surface," Stan called down. "Then just scoop it up into a bag."

Maggie glanced at Stan. Scoop it up? Easy for him to say from up here where his polished shoes were safe and the waft of death hadn't yet arrived. But even from above, Maggie could see it was a daunting task. The riverbank was littered with cans and discarded take-out containers and wrappers. She knew the area—this stretch under the over-pass—well enough to know there were also cigarette butts, condoms and a needle or two. The killer had taken a risk, discarding the head in such a well-trafficked area.

Ordinarily Maggie would find herself assessing that risk as the killer's apparent disorganization. Taking risks could amount to simple panic. But since this was the third head to show up in the District in three weeks, Maggie knew this had little to do with panic and everything to do with the killer's twisted strategy.

"You mind if I come down and take a closer look?, Maggie called down.

Racine shrugged. "Help yourself," she said, but she came to the bottom of the embankment and offered her arm for leverage. Maggie waved her off.

She searched instead for anything—branches, rocks, roots—to hang on to. There was nothing but river mud and tall grass. She didn't have much choice but to slip and slide. Like a skier without poles, she tried to keep her balance, managing to stay on her feet, skidding past Racine, but stopping within inches of ending up in the Potomac.

Racine shook her head, a slight smirk on her lips, but thankfully didn't say anything. Maggie didn't need to be reminded that perhaps she went a bit overboard when it came to Racine, not wanting to accept any favors, or worse, feel she needed to repay a debt. She and Racine had had enough challenges and obstacles in the last several years. And more importantly, they were even. That's where Maggie wanted to leave it.

Maggie tried to clean her shoes of the clumps of mud, rubbing them against the tall grass, not wanting to bring any more foreign particles to the scene. Her leather flats would be ruined. She was careless about shoes, often forgetting her slip-on boots. Gwen constantly warned her that her treatment of shoes bordered on irreverence. It reminded Maggie of Stan's shiny, polished ones, and she glanced back up the embankment, noticing that he had backed away from the edge. Was he worried she may have started a mud slide, or did he want to make sure no one expected him to follow her path? Either way, she knew he wouldn't be coming down.

Julia Racine caught Maggie looking up. "Heaven forbid he gets his shoes dirty," Racine said under her breath as if reading Maggie's thoughts. But her eyes and attention quickly returned to the decapitated head as she added, " It's got to be the same killer. But we may have gotten lucky this time."

Maggie had only recently seen pieces of the case files on the other two heads. This was her first invitation to the crime scene, now that Racine and Chief Henderson suspected they might have a serial killer on their hands.

"Why lucky?, Maggie finally asked when it became obvious that's what Racine was waiting for. Some things never changed, like Racine demanding everyone's attention before she announced her brilliant theories.

"Getting that tip allowed us to get here before the critters finished their snack. The other two were down to the bone. We still haven't been able to identify them."

Maggie swiped her shoes against the grass one last time and came closer. Then the smell hit her like a blast of hot air. The mixture of scents that accompanied death was difficult for Maggie to describe, always the same and yet always different, depending on the surroundings. There was the faint metallic smell of blood, but this time overpowered by that of rotting flesh and the muck of river mud. She hesitated, but only for a second or two, focusing instead on the grisly scene less than three feet in front of her.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 78 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 78 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2014

    I just finished this book and I loved it. I only read mysteries

    I just finished this book and I loved it. I only read mysteries and true crime so maybe I chalk it up to that but I figured out the entire book before I was halfway through it. However I will say since I do read so many mysteries and was a criminal justice major-maybe I am just good at picking up small hints. Nevertheless--I loved reading this book. It was fun and I like that it connected to a few of Alex Kava's other books. The ending made me smile and get the chills all at once..there's nothing better than that feeling when you finish a good book. 

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014


    This book is very riveting, I could hardly put it down. It took many different turns and I could never have guessed them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2013

    Great read

    Kava just keeps me guessing & wanting more

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2012

    Good read

    I enjoyed this book- well written & suspenseful. I still want more details about Kate & Maggie's future with Nick. I am from the Omaha area so the setting is very interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    Catch myself yelling at the book!

    SOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOD! She dose write great books about people you want to hate and kill yourself. Slow and painfully, Love Alex Kava!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    great read

    alex kava writes great books

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  • Posted August 26, 2011

    Great read

    Lots of twissts and turns

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  • Posted July 9, 2011


    A little bit of a slow start, but in the middle and the end it is awesome. I really liked how the murderer is not exposed until the very end of the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2008

    A Necessary Read

    After reading 'A Perfect Evil', I could not wait until this book came out. As far as the story goes, it was worth the wait! There are three potential problems with this book. One - you need to read 'A Perfect Evil' first. Two - The author attempts to bring you up to speed very often, which is irritating, but there are still things you may miss without reading the first book. Three - There are an incredible number of characters in this book - many people to keep track of during your experience. The good news is, the reason you encounter so many people, is because most of them meet their doom. The characters are strong as usual, and the author's writing is superb. This author's books are so wonderful, they are the ones you set up to pre-order for life. This book normally would get five stars from me, but I thought with the three issues above, it didn't deserve quite as high a rating as my five stars for 'A Perfect Evil'. This author is fantastic. I have read all her books, except 'One False Move' and that is on my list.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2007

    Manny Medina,a reader

    I thought 'a necessary evil' was a fantastic book. Her grisley detail keeps you wanting more. This book kept me in it for 2 days and hated for it to end. Alex Kava is a phenominal writer. i highly recommend this read.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    Alex Kava's heroine special Agent Maggie O'Dell is strong, sometimes strident, always intriguing. She won listeners and readers in four novels - A Perfect Evil, Split Second, The soul Catcher, and At the Stroke of Madness - now, she's back with an up to the minute thriller that puts everything she knows to the test. Monsignor William O'Sullivan is at the airport clutching a briefcase, fearful that he'll be recognized. He's waiting to board a flight that will take him to New York and then on to Rome. Feeling queasy, uneasy and close to nauseous he makes his way to a restroom. After he has splashed water on his face and rinsed his hands he notices a figure standing behind him. 'I'm almost finished,' he says, thinking the person is waiting a turn at the sink. No. He feels an arm around his midsection and then a sharp pain as a knife does its deadly work. The last words he hears are, 'You're already finished, Monsignor O'Sullivan.' Thus begins Kava's goose bump producing A Necessary Evil. The murder of Monsignor O'Sullivan is turned over to Detective Tommy Pakula who realizes this case could be a career maker or breaker. Upon learning of similar deaths of clerics in other cities he calls in profiler Maggie O'Dell. With further investigation this formidable pair discover a rather sick Internet game - role playing by victims of abuse. They can't help but wonder if those who play the game haven't gone a step too far and taken revenge. Then, the unthinkable. There is one person whom Maggie hates and would give anything to find - Father Michael Keller, a brutal killer. She doesn't find him but he finds her and offers to help her solve the murders of the priests in return for protection. Will Maggie agree to such an offer? Veteran voice performer Lorelei King gives fantastic narration to this tale, revealing with her warm, sometimes liquid voice the trepidation and torment felt by Maggie. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2006

    Mrs. Kava, it was a pleasure

    After reading all Kava books in german language it was a special pleasure for me to read the first book in english. For me as a german which never read an english book it was hard to get through and finally I enjoyed the hole book. The story is quite fantastic and leaves a great feeling if somedays Mrs. Kava decides to tell us if the father was killed or not. Excellent job.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2006

    Yeah - Maggie O'Dell is Back and Better!

    I was SO excited to see Kava write another Maggie O'Dell novel - I get so into her character! I stayed up all night long reading this book and, it being so early in the morning, have nobody to share my excitement with - so I logged on to share it with other readers! I struggle to find an all-around good read, and was delighted that Kava wrote an exceptional novel! Now I eagerly await the next one...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2006

    Great sequel. Another Kava thriller

    Kava does it again. This is the sequel to A Perfect Evil and it is great. I wish she'd have written it 5 years ago. read A Perfect evil again and go straight into this one. This book doesn't rush through but tends to draw you into the characters. But Kava is still able to keep you hanging with her cliffhanger chapters. I couldn't put the book down. Still I would have liked to have seen a bit more romance for Maggie. This is an exceptional read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2006

    The wait was worth it! GREAT READ!

    This is the followup to A Perfect Evil, Alex Kava's debut novel and it was well worth the wait of 5 year! As always Kava writes fast pace and leaves you wanting more at the end of each chapter. I wanted to stay up night after night (had to work) but got to the end in 4 days. Kava has taken the time to develop her characters and deepen their relationships. I agree with the above reviewer that Kava is the queen of twisted endings. I'm glad I re-read A Perfect Evil -- it leads into this story line smoothly. You'll enjoy it. A+ Alex!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2005

    Necessary Evil

    It would seem that Maggie O'Dell has two separate serial killers on her hands. One in New England kills young women, then removes their heads and takes the torso for his trophy. The other attacks Catholic priests who have been implicated in abuse cases. Is there any baffling way that the two could be connected? As she follows the trail, things only become more confusing, and more dangerous. ..................... **** This fascinating thriller will keep your attention from beginning to end. Though at times it might seem confusing as two apparently separate killers terrorize the country, the way they are connected is a stroke of genius on the author's part. Ms. Kava has become famous for leaving readers with an startling end, and she does still, but don't skip ahead to see what it is you won't get it unless you read the whole thing. ****

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    exhilarating O¿Dell thriller

    In DC and in Nebraska someone is killing men who have abused power with an emphasis on priests. Though the M.O. is similar and the victims all tainted, FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell begins to think two different perpetrators are at work with a common bond. That assumption leads her with the help of her mentor Dr. Gwen Patterson and Detective Julia Racine to search for the link between the killers, which she believes, is an Internet role-playing game for those who have suffered abuse at the hands powerful males. --- As Maggie worries about her friend Gwen who is acting strange and wants distance from Julia, the case takes a weird spin when the man she hates most in the world, brutal Father Michael Keller, is forced to return based on a package he received while hiding in a remote part of South America, with an offer to help her stop the killings in return for his ability to vanish once again in Venezuela. Maggie debates making a Faustian deal with the child killing devil while vengeance continues. --- Alex Kava¿s latest exhilarating O¿Dell thriller showcases the profiler struggling with a complex case made more difficult by the actions of her beloved teacher Gwen, whose fears of field work hampers her ability to help. The fast-paced story line for the most part contains the two subplots that move back and forth between Omaha and DC before tying together in an exciting action-packed tale. Fans of the series will enjoy Maggie¿s dilemma as to whether to deal with A NECESSARY EVIL or not. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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