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One False Move

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Overview

Internationally bestselling author Alex Kava delivers a searing thriller of one woman’s encounter with her past which could jeopardize her future

Melanie Starks has never lived 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 ready to give it up. Then Jared Barnett reappears in her life. Fresh out ...

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One False Move

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Overview

Internationally bestselling author Alex Kava delivers a searing thriller of one woman’s encounter with her past which could jeopardize her future

Melanie Starks has never lived 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 ready to give it up. Then Jared Barnett reappears in her life. Fresh out of prison after serving five years of a life sentence for murder, Jared is released on a technicality that by no means proves his innocence. And he’s feeling more invincible than ever. He has the perfect plan for a big score and he needs Melanie’s help. But everything goes terribly wrong. Only 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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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

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. Agent, Amy Moore-Benson. Author tour. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593974442
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Publication date: 7/28/2004
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.28 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Alex Kava

Alex Kava has a bachelor’s degree in art and English. Before writing novels full-time, she ran her own graphic design firm and later was director of public relations for one of the last all-women’s colleges in the Midwest. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Mystery Writers of America. Kava lives in Omaha, Nebraska.

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Read an Excerpt

PART 1

Blind Man’s Bluff

Friday, August 27
1:13 p.m.
Nebraska State Penitentiary -- Lincoln, Nebraska

Max Kramer wore his lucky red tie with his blue power suit. While he waited for the guard to unlock the door, he admired his reflection in the glass security window behind them.That Grecian hair formula really worked. He could barely see any of the gray.

His wife kept telling him the salt and pepper made him look more distinguished. Of course she would say that. She always said stuff like that when she was suspicious, when she knew he was hunting for someone new. God, she knew him well, better than she realized.

“Big day,” the hulk of a guard said to him. But he was scowling instead of smiling.

Max had heard the nicknames the guards had given him in the last several weeks. He knew he wasn’t a popular guy here on death row. But that was to the guards. To the inmates he had reached hero status. And they were the ones he cared about; they were the ones who counted. They needed him to right their wrongs, to tell their stories, or rather their versions of their stories. Yes, they were the ones who mattered, but not because he was a bleeding heart liberal like the Omaha World Herald or the Lincoln Journal Star seemed pleased to label him. It was nothing quite as admirable as all that. Quite simply, all his hard work, all his efforts were for a day like today. A day when he could watch a client of his walk out of this concrete hellhole .A day when he could save his client from the electric chair and walk alongside him out the front doors and into the sunlight. The sunlight and the spotlight of about two dozen TV cameras from across the country. CNN’s Larry King had already booked Max and Jared on his show for tomorrow night. And his red tie would show up wonderfully tonight when NBC aired his interview with Brian Williams.

Yes, this was what he had waited for his entire career. All the shitty pay and long hours would be worth it, and the local media attacks would come to an end.

He stopped at the doorway to the holding room, pretending to show some respect for his client’s privacy. Pretending. He didn’t want to spend any more time alone with Jared Barnett than necessary. So he watched from the doorway. Barnett was wearing the same faded jeans and red T-shirt he had surrendered that first day at the penitentiary five years ago, only now the T-shirt bulged from the muscles Barnett had built up during his days of incarceration. Since Barnett had traded in his orange jumpsuit for street clothes, Max couldn’t help thinking how ordinary the man looked. Even his short dark hair had that disheveled but cool look, that just-got-out-of-bed look that Max could never pull off, but that Barnett would probably make trendy after his media appearances.

Max had already made his client out to be the poor misunderstood bad boy who had been framed and then abused by a justice system that had stolen five years of his life. Now Barnett just needed to play the role. He certainly looked it.

The guard at the door stepped aside.

“Paperwork’s coming,” he said. “You want, you can wait inside.”

Max nodded as if grateful for the invitation -- for what the guard seemed to consider a courtesy -- even though Max preferred that the asshole let him wait in the hall. Too late. Jared saw him and waved him into the holding room. He stood up when Max entered, another courtesy. Jesus! What was this world coming to when convicted murderers started being courteous?

“Relax. Take a load off.” Max shoved one of the metal folding chairs in Barnett’s direction, scraping it against the floor, the noise grating on his nerves. Only now did he realize he was nervous, nervous that Barnett would screw this up for him.

“Man, I never thought you’d actually be able to pull this off,” Barnett said, taking the seat, seemingly not bothered that Max remained standing. It was a trick Max had learned long ago in his early years as a defense attorney. Get the client to sit down while you stand over him, instant authority. At five feet seven inches Max Kramer had to use every trick he could.

“So how does this work?” Barnett asked, even though Max had explained it several times during the appeal. His client sounded as if he believed there was still a catch. “I’m really free to go?”

“Without Danny Ramerez as a witness the prosecution has no case. The rest of the evidence was all circumstantial. As long as there’s no eyewitness testimony from Ramerez, there’s nothing to connect you to Rebecca Moore.” Max watched Barnett, measuring his response, or rather his lack of one. “It was quite admirable of Mr. Ramerez to come forward and finally tell the truth, that he wasn’t even there that afternoon.”

Barnett smiled up at him, but there was something about his smile that creeped Max out. Never once during the appeal process had he asked how Barnett had managed to get Ramerez to recant his original testimony, but he suspected Barnett had, indeed, made it happen, despite being locked up.

“What about the others?” Barnett asked.

“Excuse me?”

Max waited, but Barnett sat cleaning his fingernails, using his teeth to scrape them out and then bite off the cuticles. He had seen him do this in court -- a nervous habit, probably an unconscious one. And now Max wondered if he had heard him correctly. Jesus! What others was he talking about?

Max hadn’t handled Barnett’s original case, only the appeal. But he wasn’t stupid. He knew there had been others. Other women, all murdered with the same M.O. and the signature gunshot wound up through the jaw as if the killer had hoped to remove the victim’s identity by shattering her teeth. It didn’t matter. Barnett had only been charged with Rebecca Moore’s murder. Why the hell would Barnett even be asking about the others?

“What others?” Max finally asked, though he didn’t want to know.

“Never mind,” Barnett said as he spat out a piece of fingernail then crossed his arms, tucking his hands under his armpits. “You know I don’t have a fucking dime to my name, man,” he said, changing the subject. “I know you said I don’t have to pay you anything, but I feel like I owe you.”

Max almost let out a sigh of relief. This was a much safer topic. If there had been others, he didn’t want to know about them. As far as Max was concerned there had been only one case, one eyewitness. And now there was no eyewitness and no case. If Barnett wanted to get something off his chest he could find a fucking priest. Yes, he preferred that Barnett worry, instead, about paying his debt.

Max knew Jared Barnett was the kind of man who wouldn’t like feeling that he owed anyone. He also knew it was a big deal for Barnett to even admit that he might owe him. And that’s what he wanted his client to focus on. Max had heard rumors that, after Barnett had been read his sentence of death by the electric chair, he turned to his court-appointed attorney, poor James Pritchard, and told him that it appeared he didn’t owe him anything more for his help than a hole in the head. Max liked the idea that Barnett thought he might feel indebted to him. In fact, he was counting on it. “I think we can work something out,” he said.

“Sure. Whatever you decide.”

“But first I have to warn you. There’s a media circus outside waiting for us.”

“Cool,” Barnett said, standing up. And that’s exactly what he looked like -- cool and collected, that same lack of emotion that had carried him through the trial and sentencing and every aspect of the appeal process. “So what’s the going rate?”

“Excuse me?”

“What are these media blood-suckers willing to pay for an interview?”

Max scratched his head, his own nervous habit which he immediately caught and turned into a smoothing of his hair. Though he wanted to rip his hair out, instead. Christ! He couldn’t believe this. The son of a bitch was going to fuck everything up. Money? He expected to be paid for being interviewed?

Max had to watch his temper. He couldn’t make it sound as if he even cared whether or not they did the interviews. He couldn’t make it seem as though Barnett was doing him a favor. He didn’t want Barnett thinking these interviews would be his payback. He needed to think quickly. He needed to appeal to Barnett’s core values, to those few essentials that made him tick. One of which, certainly, was not money.

“You’re going to be a celebrity overnight, my friend,” Max told him, smiling and shaking his head as if he could hardly believe it. “I’ve got messages from NBC News, 60 Minutes, Larry King and even Bill O’Reilly’s The Factor. You’re going to have something money can’t buy. But I can understand if you’d rather tell them all to go screw themselves. Whatever you want to do. It’s entirely up to you.”

He watched as Barnett thought it over, forcing himself to keep quiet, to pretend it didn’t matter. He concentrated on breathing, on not thinking about how much he wanted this, how much he needed this. He tried to keep his fists from balling up. And in his mind he couldn’t stop repeating, almost like a mantra, “Don’t you dare fuck it up.”

“Bill O’Reilly actually wants me on his show?”

Max swallowed another sigh and calmly managed to say, “Yep, tomorrow night. It’s up to you, though. I can tell him . . . hell, I can tell them all you don’t want to put up with the whole lot of them. Whatever you want to do.”

“That O’Reilly guy always thinks he’s so tough.” And now Barnett was smiling again. “I wouldn’t mind telling a few of those assholes what I think.”

This time Max smiled, too. Perhaps he could control Barnett, after all, but he’d need some sort of insurance. For the first time since he’d met Jared Barnett, Max allowed himself to look deep into those dark, vacant eyes, and now he allowed himself to admit the truth. He knew Jared Barnett had, indeed, killed that poor girl seven years ago. Not only did Max know it, he was counting on it.

Copyright © 2005 Alex Kava

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 20 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 27, 2012

    Loved it

    I love everything Alex Kava writes. the characters jump off the pages and non stop action keeps the pages turning.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Very Good read for a person that likes thrillers

    First of all the book is one of my favorites, and I'm a constant reader. Second, the characters' changes are nothing short of perfect. If you want to read a good book and you enjoy thrillers then this is a book for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2008

    One false move...by Kava Literally

    Let me start by saying that I love to read Alex Kava's books. I have read them all with the exception of 'Whitewash'. I also think it's great that she writes books other than books from the Maggie O'Dell series - Just not this one. As always Kava's writing style is strong. The characters development is not bad, but the plot adds no uniqueness to the story. Generally picking up and reading an Alex Kava book is a fantastic decision, but in this case, it would be one false move. ...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2007

    What a disappointment

    If the 'f' word were to be taken out of the english language this author couldn't write at all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2005

    Not One of Her Best

    Although brief in length, this is the worst effort produced by Alex Kava. She usually has better character development and plot lines. This was too predictable and superficial...Read A Perfect Evil which the best book that Kava has written to date.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2004

    A tense and wild ride...

    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. ****

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Exciting thriller

    Lawyer Max Kramer bribes an eyewitness to recant testimony so that a homicidal conviction is overturned, freeing Jared Barnett. Detective Tommy Pakula and attorney Grace Wenninghoff know that Jared is a serial killer. Jared visits his sister Melody and his seventeen year old nephew Charlie. While Melody is un happy to see her brother, Charlie worships his uncle. Jared informs his two relatives that they will rob a bank. Jared and Charlie enter the bank and shots are fired. The two men race out with Charlie having blood all over his clothing. Tommy receives a call that a bank robbery turned violent. He calls Grace to tell her there are five dead at the bank. A sheriff and a police copter chase the criminals, but a storm halts their efforts. Melody crashes the car, but the trio walks to the nearby state park cabins where Jared shoots Andrew Kane grazing his head. While the police give chase, Jared begins a murder spree with Andrew held hostage. The key to this exhilarating police procedural crime thriller is the powerful cast whether the character is a cop, lawyer, murderer, writer, etc. They all come across as real and their interactions genuine. This depth makes the chase more exhilarating though quite bloody (innocent people are killed) as the audience sees it from the perspective of various participants. Some fans will feel a letdown with the final showdown; albeit realistic, as no High Noon occurred (instead more like Bakshi¿s Wizards). Still, readers will enjoy this terse chase thriller. Harriet Klausner

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    Posted October 9, 2010

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    Posted June 17, 2012

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    Posted December 9, 2008

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