Melanie Starks has mixed feelings when her brother Jared is suddenly released from prison after serving five years of a life sentence for murder. They've always looked out for each other, and Melanie herself hasn't lived a blameless life. She's done what it takes to survive and put food in her son Charlie's mouth. When Jared proposes that she and Charlie help him rob a bank, Melanie uneasily agrees. It's a decision she soon regrets when the robbery goes sour and four people die.

Soon they are all on the run with a hostage—and there's no escape from the increasingly unstable Jared. It's a living nightmare, and eventually Melanie is forced to choose between survival and loyalty to her brother.

Kava offers a completely fascinating look into the mind of a spree killer and the minds of the victims that surround him. Inspired by several actual events, it reads like true crime. (Aug., 320 pp., $19.95)
Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer