Monday, November 01, 2010

Reviews: Damaged by Pamela Callow & Damaged by Alex Kava

Damaged by Pamela Callow (Mira, 2010 - Crime Fiction; 454 pgs)
Rating: * (Very Good)

Damaged by Alex Kava (Doubleday, 2010 - Crime Fiction; 272 pgs)
Rating: * (Good +)

I received Pamela Callow and Alex Kava's books for review around the same time. My husband joked that I should do a joint review given they share the same title, Damaged. If that wasn't coincidence enough, there were several similarities in terms of subject matter. The title Damaged could mean anything and yet these two authors, completely independent of each other, chose to write about the same type of crime, with quite a few similar details. Perhaps the same news stories caught their eye? It's funny how it worked out that way, and, as much as I would love to go into more detail, I would hate to spoil either book for you. Just as the two books are similar in content--at least when it comes to the crime--they are also very different from one another in feel and style, as well as in presentation. The differences in approach are such that I definitely did not get the impression that I was reading the same book twice. Although, perhaps reading both books back to back might not be the best idea . . .

In Pamela Callow's novel, Damaged, the main character, Kate Lange, is an up and coming attorney who has just landed a job in a major law firm. She has fought hard to reach the point where she is, overcoming a past that won't seem to let go. Assigned a custody case in which a grandmother wants to take custody of her granddaughter, Kate doesn't see much hope that the grandmother can win. She tells the grandmother as much but somehow feels she should have tried to do more. That feeling turns into guilt when the granddaughter turns up dead, her body mutilated. Kate is pulled into the investigation for a killer as she is asked by the grandmother to look into the disappearances of other young girls.

To complicate matters, her standing in the law firm is on shaky ground and her very career could be on the line. Kate knows that the only one she can trust is herself, not the law partners nor her ex-fiance, Detective Ethan Drake.

Pamela Callow's Damaged was an intense read, high in suspense and full of twists that kept me guessing until near the end. The characters, including Kate, were well developed. I really liked Kate, both for her strength and vulnerability. It didn't hurt that she had a dog that was easy to fall in love with. The only issue I had, a tiny one at that, was the sexual tension that seemed to exist between Kate and just about every male in the novel. It didn't detract from the flow of the story at all, but I admit to wondering if it was necessary. Perhaps it was an effort to show how lonely and tense the characters were--or a technique to keep the reader guessing. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed Callow's novel and will definitely be reading more by her.

Alex Kava's Damaged also featured a strong female lead, this time a FBI profiler named Maggie O'Dell. And she, too, has a lovable dog. The book is actually a part of an ongoing series. And as has become my recent habit, I jumped right in at the end instead of starting at the beginning. Kava's novel stands well on its own. This particular book seemed much more plot driven than character driven which was perfect for the mood I was in when I read it.

In Kava's novel, Maggie is asked to assist with an investigation into the discovery of several human body parts, found floating in a chest in the Gulf right off the Florida coast. The investigation takes her right into the eye of a hurricane, one that is expected to reach terrible proportions. Unknown to Maggie, a good friend of hers is working with the Navy to uncover the cause of a mysterious illness that seems to have infected and is killing off several military personnel. He just happens to be in Florida too. The coming hurricane was given an equal weight in the novel as was the other two mysteries, which added an extra dimension to the story, helping to build on the suspense. It was an enjoyable read. Not quite as intense as Callow's book, but entertaining nonetheless.

Both novels have varying viewpoints throughout, allowing the reader to see events from different angles. Only Pamela Callow's offers a glimpse into the killer's head, careful not to reveal the person's identity too soon. It worked well for the two novels, although I confess there was one perspective in Alex Kava's novel I could have done without. His part of the story was significant but the character himself really annoyed me and I found myself wanting his sections to be over before they started.

Now that I have thoroughly confused you . . . While I liked Pamela Callow's Damaged more than I did Alex Kava's Damaged, I enjoyed reading both and hope to read more of the authors work in the future.

For more information about Pamela Callow and her book and upcoming books, visit the author's website.

For more information about Alex Kava and her books, visit the author's website.

Source: Both books provided for review.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Funny about the two releases being similar in subject matter as well as title - it made for a highly enjoyable review. I've read Pam Callow's book and LOVED it.

  2. They both sound good! I've read several of Kava's books of this series, and I've really enjoyed them. I bet this one would have a pretty big impact since hurricanes are the bane of my existence down here.

  3. These both sound promising to me. That's a funny coincidence that you ended up reading two books with the same title!

  4. How funny that both books shared the same title and some of the same themes! I think I would much prefer Kava's books, as like Sandy, I live in an area where hurricanes are a big part of my life. Great joint review of these two, and very clever!

  5. I think they both sound really good! Since I'm a visual person, I have to say that Pamela Callow's book appeals to me more just because I love the interesting.

  6. That's a nice coincidence that you read these books with the same title, Wendy. Both sound good to me! As always, thanks for the lovely reviews! :)

  7. I like the sounds of both of them. I love that you combined the review made it very interesting to read!! I would read both of them for sure!

  8. HOw funny that they they share more than the title. I have Kawa's book here so that'll be the one I read.

  9. What a coincidence! I like how you did the joint review and both sound really good. If I find them, I'd read them. At least for next year. :)

  10. Kava's from here so, of course, I've read a couple of her books. I'd pretty much rate each of them the way you rated this one. She turns out good, not great books, that are enjoyable page turners.

  11. I read and enjoyed Callow's Damaged but I agree what was with the guys? Everyone she bumped into wanted to have sex with her.

  12. Julia - I am looking forward to Callow's next book. This first one was so good!

    Sandy - I'm sure then you will find how one of the characters didn't seem to think a hurricane would be a big deal. As if all the people around him were panicking for no reason. LOL He learned his lesson.

    Kathleen - It was a funny coincidence--and then to have them both about the same topic! What are the chances?

    Heather - I am not sure where most of Kava's books take place--I have a feeling she gets around being an FBI profiler. But if you like reading books set in hurricane territory, than Damaged might be one to try.

    Kris - I really like the cover to Callow's book too. The coloring and image are eye-catching.

    Melody - Thank you! I enjoyed them both and look forward to reading more by the authors.

    Staci - I'm glad my husband suggested the joint review. :-) It got a little eerie there when I realized how much the two books were alike plot wise in addition to sharing a title.

  13. Beth - I hope you enjoy it, Beth! It goes pretty quickly.

    Alice - I do hope you get a chance to read them, Alice. I think you'd like them, especially Callow's book.

    Lisa - I wondered about that in regards to Kava's other books. I definitely do want to go back and read the first book in the series. I think I have it around here somewhere.

    Chris - I am glad I'm not the only one who felt that way.


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