THROWBACK THURSDAY – VIRUS READING SPECIAL: EXPOSED by Alex Kava (2008)
For the next few weeks I thought I would spend some of my time in lockdown looking at old thrillers with a virus theme to them.
First up is Exposed (2008) by Alex Kava.
Exposed was the sixth book by Alex Kava in her ongoing series about FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell. Maggie and her boss, Assistant Director Cunningham, head to a small residential home in Virginia on the track of a possible killer with a grudge against the FBI. However, instead of finding the culprit they walk into a nightmare. A woman lies in a pool of blood and vomit, while her young daughter sits nearby. Too late, Maggie and Cunningham realise that the woman has been infected with a deadly virus and that they are now exposed. Rushed into a secret US Army isolation base, Maggie must try and coordinate the efforts of her team to stop other attacks by the killer, while dealing with being in lockdown and hoping that she has not been infected with Ebola virus.
This is a well described thriller about a time when Ebola was seen as being the major potential virus threat to humankind. The potential of the virus to inflict damage is convincingly conveyed and Alex smoothly sets out the relevant forensic and medical detail without slowing the story. A large number of potential suspects and victims are introduced early in the story and in the main Alex manages her substantial cast of characters well, and keeps the reader guessing as to who is behind the attacks. The book moves through a series of interesting developments and builds to a good climax, with some scary moments.
By this stage of the series, Alex was well into her groove as an author and Maggie was becoming well developed as a character. Alex was always adept at showing Maggie’s tough, independent streak, but in this novel she also shows her character’s fragility and her understanding of where her life choices have led her to. The secondary characters are also well developed, especially her colleague Tully and his daughter, Emma.
The subplot about the potential involvement of the US military in the Ebola attacks is well handled and adds some depth to the story, and also gives Alex the opportunity to introduce an interesting new character to the series in the form of Colonel Benjamin Platt from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. Regular readers of the series, will also be moved by some of the developments which effect Maggie and her team.
Exposed is not without fault. The broad spread of the story and the large cast undermines some of the suspense and the ending seems rushed and not completely logical. Understandably, Maggie is assigned a secondary role for much of the book and this also weakens the drive of the story. On the positive side, the story flows well and fans of true crime will appreciate the interesting insights into real cases, like the hunt for the so-called Anthrax Killer.
In all, Exposed is an enjoyable thriller that makes you realise that lockdown could be much worse! Four stars out of five.
Exposed was first published in 2008. There are now 13 novels in the Maggie O’Dell series. I have read a number of them and the series is certainly worthwhile tracking down. Exposed is not the best book in the series, but it is certainly a good read.