Split Second (Maggie O'Dell Series #2)

Split Second (Maggie O'Dell Series #2)

by Alex Kava

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781488038280
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 09/10/2018
Series: Maggie O'Dell Series , #2
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 12,460
File size: 672 KB

About the Author

ALEX KAVA’s two stand-alone novels and seven novels featuring FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell have been published in more than twenty countries, appearing on the bestseller lists in Britain, Australia, Poland, Germany, and Italy. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. Alex divides her time between Omaha, Nebraska, and Pensacola, Florida.

Read an Excerpt

North Dade County Detention Center 
Miami, Florida 

Halloween — Friday, October 31 

Del Macomb wiped the sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt. The stiff cotton of his uniform stuck to his back, and it was only nine in the morning. How could it be this hot and humid in October? 

He had grown up just north of Hope, Minnesota. Back home, ice would be forming at the edges of Silver Lake. His daddy would be writing his sermons while watching the last of the snow geese pass overhead. Del pushed wet strands off his brow. Thinking about his daddy reminded him that he needed a haircut. Crazy stuff to be thinking about. Even crazier that it was stuff that could still make him homesick. 

"So who's the fucking asshole we're chaperoning today?"

Del's partner startled him. He winced at Benny Zeeks's language, then glanced over at the barrel-chested ex-marine to see if he had noticed. He certainly didn't need another lecture — not that he didn't have a lot to learn from Benny. 

"Guys said his name is Stucky." He wondered if Benny had heard him. He seemed preoccupied. 

At North Dade County Detention Center Benny Zeeks was somewhat of a legend, not only because he was a twenty-five-year veteran, but because he had spent most of that time working up in Starke on death row and even on X Wing. Del had seen his partner's scars from scuffles he'd won over X Wingers trying to avoid the coffinlike solitary confinement. 

He watched Benny shove his shirtsleeves up over his veiny forearms, not bothering to fold or roll them, revealing one of those legendary scars. It intersected a tattoo, a Polynesian dancer who now had a jagged red line across her abdomen as if she had been sliced in half. Benny could still make the dancer dance, flexing his arm and sending the lower half of her into a slow, sexy sway while the other half — the top half — froze in place, disconnected. The tattoo fascinated Del, intriguing and repulsing him at the same time. 

Now his partner climbed into the armored truck's passenger seat, concentrating on negotiating the narrow steps up into the cab. The man moved slower than usual this morning, and Del immediately knew his partner had another hangover. He swung up into the driver's seat, buckling himself in and pretending, once again, not to notice. 

"Who'd you say this asshole is?" Benny asked, while he twisted his thermos lid, the short stubby fingers desperate to get at the coffee. Del wanted to tell him the caffeine would only compound his problem, but after four short weeks on the job, he knew better than to try to tell Benny Zeeks anything.

"We're taking Brice and Webber's run today." 

"What the hell for?" 

"Webber's got the flu and Brice broke his hand last night." 

"How the fuck do you break a hand?" 

"All I heard was that he broke it. I don't know how. Look, I thought you hated the monotony of our regular route. Plus, all the traffic just to get to the courthouse." 

"Yeah, well, there better not be more paperwork," Benny shifted restlessly as if anticipating the dreaded change in his routine. "And if this is Brice and Webber's run, that means this asshole's headed up to Glades, right? Puttin' him in close custody until his fucking hearing. Means he's some big-time fuckup they don't want down here in our wussy detention lockup." 

"Hector said the guy's name is Albert Stucky. Said he's not such a bad guy, pretty intelligent and friendly. Hector says he's even accepted Jesus Christ as his savior." 

Del could feel Benny scowling at him. He turned the key in the ignition and let the truck vibrate, then rumble to a slow start while he braced himself for Benny's sarcasm. He turned the air-conditioning on, blasting them with hot air. Benny reached over and punched it off. 

"Give the engine some time, first. We don't need that goddamn hot air in our faces." 

Del felt his face grow red. He wondered if there would ever be anything he could do to win the respect of his partner. He ignored his simmering anger and rolled down the window. He pulled out the travel log and jotted down the truck's odometer and gas tank readings, letting the routine calm him. 

"Wait a minute," Benny said. "Albert Stucky? I've been reading about this guy in the Miami Herald. Feebies nicknamed him The Collector." 


"Yeah, FBI. Jesus, kid, don't you know anything?" 

This time Del could feel the prickle of red at his ears. He turned his head and pretended to be checking the side mirror. 

"This Stucky guy," Benny continued, "he carved up and slaughtered three or four women, and not just here in Florida. If he's the guy I'm thinking of, he's one badass motherfucker. And if he's claiming he's found Jesus Christ, you can bet it's because he wants to save his sorry ass from being fried by Old Sparky." 

"People can change. Don't you believe people can change?" Del glanced at Benny. The older man's brow was beaded with sweat and the bloodshot eyes glared at him. 

"Jesus, kid. I bet you still believe in Santa Claus, too." Benny shook his head. "They don't send guys to wait for their trial in close custody because they think he's found Jesus-fucking-Christ." 

Benny turned to stare out the window and sip his coffee. In doing so, he missed Del wince again. He couldn't help it. Twenty-two years with a daddy for a preacher made it an instant reaction, like scratching an itch. Sometimes he did it without even knowing. 

Del slipped the travel log into the side pocket and shifted the truck into gear. He watched the concrete prison in his side-view mirror. The sun beat down on the yard where several prisoners milled around, bumming cigarettes off each other and enduring the morning heat. How could they enjoy being outside if there was no shade? He added it to his mental list of unfair treatment. Back in Minnesota, he had been quite the activist for prison reform. Lately he'd been too busy with the move and starting his new job, but he kept a running list for when he had more time. Little by little he'd work his way up to battling causes like eliminating Starke's X Wing. 

As they approached the final checkpoint he glanced at the rearview mirror. He almost jumped, startled to find their prisoner staring back at him. All Del could see through the thick slit of glass were the piercing black eyes, and they were looking directly at him in the mirror. 

Del recognized something in the prisoner's eyes, and a knot tightened in his stomach. He had seen that look years ago as a boy, on one of his trips accompanying his father. They had visited a condemned prisoner, who Del's father had met at one of his prison fellowship meetings. During that visit, the prisoner had confessed all the horrible, unimaginable things he had done to his own family before he murdered them — a wife, five children and even the family dog.


As a boy, the details Del heard that day had been traumatizing, but even worse was the evil pleasure the prisoner seemed to get from retelling each detail and watching the impact on a ten-year-old boy. Now Del saw that same look in the eyes of the man in the back of the armored truck. For the first time in twelve years, he felt as if he was looking straight into the eyes of pure evil. 

He made himself look away and avoided the temptation to glance back. He pulled out from the last checkpoint and onto the highway. Once they got on the open road, he could relax. He enjoyed driving. It gave him time to think. But when he took a quick left, Benny, who had appeared to be lost in his thoughts, suddenly became agitated. 

"Where the hell you going? I-95's the other direction." 

"I thought we'd take a shortcut. Highway 45 has less traffic, and it's a much nicer drive." 

"You think I fucking care about nice?" 

"It's shorter by about thirty minutes. We get the prisoner delivered, and then we'll have an extra half hour for lunch." 

He knew his partner wouldn't argue with an extended lunch hour. In fact, he had hoped Benny would be impressed. Del was right. Benny leaned back in his seat and poured another cup of coffee. He reached over and punched the AC. This time, cool air began filling the cab, and Benny rewarded Del with a rare smile. Finally, he had done something right. Del sat back and relaxed. 

They had left Miami's traffic and had been on the road only thirty minutes when a thump rattled the back of the truck. At first Del thought they had dropped a muffler, but the thumping continued. It came from the back of the truck but inside, not underneath. 

Benny slammed his fist against the steel partition behind them. "Shut the fuck up." 

He twisted around to look through the small rectangle of glass that separated the cab from the back. "Can't see a damned thing." 

The noise grew louder, sending vibrations under the seat. It felt to Del as though a baseball bat were being swung against the truck's metal sides. Ridiculous, really. No chance the prisoner would have anything remotely like a baseball bat. Each blast sent Benny reeling, grabbing at his temples. Del glanced over and saw the Polynesian dancer swinging her hips with each slam of Benny's fist against the partition. 

"Hey, cut it out'" Del yelled, adding his voice to the noisy din that was beginning to make his head pound. 

Obviously, the prisoner had not been completely restrained and was ramming himself against the walls of the truck. Even if it didn't drive them crazy during the rest of the trip, it could cause some serious damage to the prisoner. He certainly didn't want to be responsible for delivering a battered prisoner. He slowed down, pulled the truck to the side of the two-lane highway and stopped. 

"What the hell you doing?" Benny demanded. 

"We can't have this going on for the rest of the trip. The guys obviously didn't completely restrain him." 

"Why would they? He's found Jesus Christ." 

Del only shook his head. As he climbed out of the truck it occurred to him that he had no idea what to do with a prisoner who had gotten an arm or leg loose from one of the leather restraints. 

"Now hold on, kid," Benny yelled after him, scrambling out from the passenger side. "I'll take care of this bastard." 

It took Benny too long to come around the truck. When he did, Del noticed a stagger in his walk. 

"You're still drunk!"

"The hell I am." 

Del reached into the cab and pulled out the thermos, jerking it away when Benny grabbed for it. He twisted off the top and in one whiff could smell the alcohol-laced coffee. 

"You son of a bitch." Del's words surprised him as much as they did Benny. Instead of apologizing, he threw the thermos and watched it explode against a nearby fence post. 

"Shit! That was my only thermos, kid." Benny looked as though he might head into the overgrown ditch to retrieve the pieces. But he turned and stomped toward the back of the truck. "Let's make this fucker shut up." 

The banging continued, louder, now rocking the truck. 

"You think you're up for this?" Del asked, feeling angry and betrayed enough to allow the sarcasm. 

"Hell, yes. I was shutting up assholes like this when you were still suckin' at your momma's tit." Benny grabbed at his service revolver, fumbling with the holster's snap before pulling the gun free. 

Del wondered how much alcohol Benny Zeeks had in his system. Could he still aim his gun? Was the gun even loaded? Up until today, Brice and Webber transported the hard-core criminals, making the trips up to Glade and Charlotte, while he and Benny were assigned petty thieves and white-collar criminals, escorting them in the other direction to the county courthouse in Miami. Del unbuckled the strap on his holster, his hand shaking, the butt of his gun feeling awkward and unfamiliar. 

The noise stopped as soon as Del started sliding the locks open on the heavy rear door. He looked to Benny who stood beside him with his revolver drawn. Immediately, Del noticed the slight tremor in Benny's hand. It sent a wave of nausea loose in Del's stomach. His back was soaked, his forehead dripping. Wet pools under his armpits soiled his once-crisp uniform. His heart pounded against his rib cage, and now in the silence, he wondered if Benny could hear it. 

He took a deep breath and tightened his hold on the handle. Then he flung the door open, jumping aside and letting Benny have a full view of the dark inside. Benny stood, legs apart, arms extended in front of him, both hands gripping the gun as he tilted his head, ready to take aim. 

Nothing happened. The door slammed back and forth, hitting against the side of the truck. The sound of metal clanking against metal was amplified by the peaceful surroundings and the deserted highway. Del and Benny stared into the darkness, squinting to see the corner bench where the prisoner usually sat, restrained by thick straps that snaked out of the wall and floor. 

"What on earth?" Del could see the leather straps, cut and hanging from the wall of the truck. 

"What the fuck?" Benny mumbled as he slowly approached the open truck. 

Without warning, a tall, dark figure flew out at Benny, knocking him and the gun to the ground. Albert Stucky clamped his teeth onto Benny's ear like a rabid dog. Benny's scream dismantled Del. He stood paralyzed. His limbs refused to react. His heart knocked against his chest. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't think. By the time he pulled out his service revolver, the prisoner was on his feet. He ran straight at Del, colliding with him and shoving something sharp and smooth and hard into Del's stomach. 

Pain exploded throughout his body. His hands were useless, and the gun slid from his fingers like water. He forced himself to look into Albert Stucky's eyes, and instantly he saw the evil staring back at him, cold and black, an entity of its own. Del felt the demon's hot breath on his face. When he glanced down, he saw the large hand still gripping the dagger. He looked up just in time to see Stucky's smile as he shoved the dagger deeper. 

Del slipped to his knees. His eyes blurred as he watched the tall stranger split into several images. He could see the truck and a sprawling Benny. Everything began to spin and blur. Then he slammed hard against the pavement. The steaming concrete sizzled up through his wet back, but it wasn't as hot as his insides. A wildfire spread through his stomach, catching each of his organs on fire. Now, on his back, he saw nothing but the clouds swirling above him, brilliant white against solid blue. The morning sun blinded him. Yet, it was all so beautiful. Why hadn't he noticed before how beautiful the sky was? 

Behind him a single gun shot blasted the silence. Del managed a weak smile. Finally. He couldn't see him but good ole' Benny, the legend, had come through, after all. The alcohol had just slowed him down a bit. 

Del pulled himself up, just enough to look at the damage to his stomach. He was startled to find himself staring down at the bloody carved image of Jesus. The dagger causing his insides to spill onto the deserted highway was actually a mahogany crucifix. Suddenly, he couldn't feel the pain anymore. That had to be a good sign, didn't it? Maybe he'd be okay. 

"Hey, Benny," he called out, laying his head on the pavement. He still wasn't able to see his partner behind him. "My daddy's gonna make a sermon out of this when I tell him I was stabbed with a crucifix."


A long, black shadow blocked the sky. 

Once again Del found himself looking into those empty, dark eyes. Albert Stucky loomed above him, tall and straight, a lean, muscular man with sharp features. He reminded Del of a vulture, perched with black wings pressed patiently against its sides, cocking its head, staring, waiting for its prey to stop struggling, to give in to the inevitable. Then, Stucky smiled as though pleased with what he saw. He raised and pointed Benny's service revolver at Del's head. 

"You won't be telling your daddy anything," Albert Stucky promised in a deep, calm voice. "Tell it to Saint Peter, instead."

The metal slammed into Del's skull .A blast of brilliant light swirled together with oceans of blue and yellow and white and then finally . . . black. 

Copyright © 2001 Alex Kava

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Split Second (Maggie O'Dell Series #2) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 106 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She tells a great story and keeps you reading non-stop can,t put down good, love her writting style, she is one of my favs. I have every book she has ever written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although her first book was more intense, this book did keep me reading. I read the other reviews and almost didn't waste my time, but im very happy I did. Great book. Good twist, and good ending. I recommend reading! I am planning on reading the rest of the "Maggie" series. Definately good reads!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had never read an Alex Kava book before, but I do enjoy crime novels. This was just what I like...evil criminal, determined law enforecement, personal glimpses into the lives of the characters. It was hard to put down, and I found myself reading when I knew I only had time for just a page or two.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really starts with a bang and the rest is so intriguing it's tough to put down. The amount of evil and depth of Stucky is fantastic, while Maggie is an equally strong character. A killer without a conscience - Stucky makes this an exceptional book. There's no excuse not to read this one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think Split Second is one of the most captivating books I've ever read.It is a spine tingling,bone chilling book! Just like A Perfect Evil& Necessary Evil!All of them fabulous like every other book written by Alex Kava!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent!kept me on the edge the WHOLE time.
christalvp More than 1 year ago
I like Split Second even better than the first book in the Maggie O'Dell seres. This was a reread for me, and it has been enough years that I didn't remember much about the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and think Kava did a great job of writing a thrilling suspense. I couldn't turn the pages enough waiting to find out what would happen to Maggie, Tully, Tess, and some of the other characters. FBI Special Agent Maggie O'Dell has been taken out of the field after her nemesis, serial killer Albert Stucky escapes custody. That he will come after Maggie isn't in question, so her boss is trying to protect her. All too soon, women Maggie randomly encounters start turning up dead, mutilated in a way that is Stucky's signature. Maggie knows she is the only one who can find him and has to be back on the investigation. When her boss finally relents, Maggie and a new partner, T.J. Tully, follow the trail left by Stucky, trying to find him before he ratchets up more kills and eventually gets them or someone close to them. When they start finding fingerprints that do no belong to Stucky and some other inconsistencies, they begin to wonder if this madman is working with a partner. Kava is a master at creating evil villains! This book also had mention of the one from the last book, Father Keller, and I'm sure we haven't seen the last of him. He and Albert Stucky were both ones I found very evil and creepy. I love the character of Maggie O'Dell, as well as some of the secondary characters. I thought she and Tully made a great investigative team, with each having completely different strengths. I like Tess in this one quite a bit, and worried about her fate terribly. It was good to get a glimpse of Nick Morelli again in this one, and I was very glad that Maggie adopted Harvey and bonded with him. The storyline was great, and I can't wait to see what happens in the series next!
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twohooks More than 1 year ago
Each of the Alex Kava books is better that the last and I eagerly await the chance to get another of her books!!!!!!!!!!
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