Hotwire is the ninth thriller in Alex Kava’s Maggie O’Dell series, comprised of A Perfect Evil, Split Second, The Soul Catcher, At the Stroke of Madness, A Necessary Evil, Exposed and Black Friday. Fortunately, Kava deliberately writes so that each can be enjoyed as a standalone. Hotwire happens to be of particular appeal for our audience, given that it opens with a bang — and two dead teens.
Hotwire was profiled on The Big Thrill. If you are a thriller fan, you have probably already discovered the International Thriller Writers (ITW) website. If you haven’t, take a look. Resources include a debut authors page, an author interview series (Between the Lines), and profiles of the latest thrillers of all types, from espionage to paranormal to legal to young adult.
ITW also organizes a summer conference each year, ThrillerFest, and sponsors the Thriller Awards. The 2011 awards were just announced a couple weeks ago. R.L. Stine was awarded the title of ThrillerMaster for his contributions to the genre. You have to wonder how many writers in the audience grew up reading his books!
KAVA, Alex. Hotwire: A Maggie O’Dell Novel. 305p. Doubleday. 2011. Tr $25.95. ISBN 978-0-385-53201-3. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Dawson Hayes is a teenaged cynic. He knows he’s being used by Johnny and his girlfriend for his technical expertise when he’s invited to a party deep in the woods. It’s another initiation, and Johnny wants the group to try a new way to get high. Dawson is there to make sure everyone’s trip is secretly recorded. Suddenly, in a flurry of piercing lights, the kids are ferociously attacked, leaving two dead, one bitten, and Dawson electrocuted and bleeding, wrapped in a barbed wire fence. FBI Agent Maggie O’Dell is in the area investigating mysterious cattle mutilations and now must piece together what happened–was this a human, an animal, or even alien attack? Maggie soon uncovers secrets that find her fighting for her life. Meanwhile, a seemingly unrelated crisis unfolds across the country when, after eating school lunches, hundreds of elementary students fall violently ill with a super strain of salmonella. An anonymous caller warns the CDC of other outbreaks and the threat of a bioterror attack is evident. There is much for teens to enjoy in this mystery, even if the narration is focused on an adult point of view. The teens are realistic, and the answer to what has happened to them is in question until the end. Area 51 type intrigue is appealing to many, and the explanation of how the government obtains meat for school lunches might have readers brown-bagging it from now on. YAs seeking a well-written mystery will be satisfied.—Priscille Dando, Robert E. Lee High School, Fairfax County, VA