At the Stroke of Madness Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of At the Stroke of Madness

Mira, August 2003, 24.95, 400pp.
ISBN: 1551667177

D.C. based artist Joan Begley already felt lonely when the only person she felt cared about her died. Joan heads to middle Connecticut for the funeral. While in the Wallingford area she meets Sonny who has befriended her over the Internet. However, instead of showing Joan kindness he abducts her.
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Joan's psychiatrist Dr. Gwen Patterson worries about her patient who she is quite fond of when she seemingly fails to check out of her room or catch her flight home. She calls her best friend FBI Special Agent, profiling expert Maggie O'Dell to see if she can learn what happened to Joan. When a female corpse is found in the area, Maggie uses her vacation time to see what happened. As other bodies are found it looks like a serial killer seems to operating in the area. Maggie takes charge of the investigation even though her superior tells her to keep her butt out. Local Sheriff Watermeir is pleased to see her on the case so she can be his fall guy if all goes wrong.

The latest O'Dell police procedural is an exciting suspense laden tale. The serial killer story line hooks the audience because of the strong cast working the law enforcement side. In many ways the culprit is typical of the serial killer tale. However, Alex Kava enables the audience to see inside the head of the heroine and several other characters, especially an Alzheimer's victim and the sheriff, so that AT THE STROKE OF MADNESS turns into a fast-paced, one sitting novel.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of At the Stroke of Madness

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues Time/era of story:    -   2000+ (Present) What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   60% Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   politics Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   government investigator Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   Swiss


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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