This thriller was in a stack passed along by my friend Pat who reads voraciously and widely. I picked it up last night and flipped through in one sitting--with only a break 300 pages in to walk my lab.
A PERFECT EVIL opens with a death row admission of a convicted killer who before receiving last rites tells the elderly priest that he only killed one of the boys, not the three everyone else has believed. Yes, he is capable of atrocity, but so is somebody else who will not be executed that night. Father Francis, the priest, knows this to be true because earlier in the week, the real killer of the other two boys confessed to him those very crimes in every lurid detail.
The citizens of a small town in Nebraska are paralyzed by another recent copycat murder of a little boy, whose remains are found by the river with terrifying wounds. Sheriff Nick Morelli is in charge of the crime scene, but he is soon joined by psychiatric criminal profiler Maggie O'Dell who is on loan from the FBI. O'Dell quickly figures out that this killer will strike again and soon. He does again and again. When the pattern becomes personal and Morelli's only nephew goes missing, the stakes are raised.
Kava's narrative travels along at breakneck speed with just enough red herrings to have you doubt your instincts and although she and Morelli do determine the identity of the perfectly evil serial killer they do not do so before he is able to disappear again, this time to serve as a missionary in Chile where the children mispronounce his name as Father Killer.