Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Chalk Girl - Carol O'Connell

Well, I was going to take lots of notes and quotes while I was reading Carol O'Connell's newest book, The Chalk Girl, so I could write a fabulous post telling you how much I love this character and author.

The notes and quotes didn't happen.....because I couldn't put the book down long enough!! But I can tell you that I do love O'Connell's 'Mallory' books.

As a child, Kathleen (Kathy) Mallory was found living alone on the streets of New York City by NYPD Lieutenant Lou Markowitz. She was taken in and raised by Markowitz and his wife (with some help from Lou's fellow cops and friends). She is streetwise, cunning, an expert thief and described as 'a baby sociopath.'

Following in Lou's footsteps, Mallory (she refuses to answer to Kathy) has joined the NYPD and is paired up with Markowitz's old partner. She is a brilliant detective, but her methods and her relationships with people are strictly on her terms. No one breaks through the walls she has erected. The term sociopath is still bandied about.

In The Chalk Girl, the 10th in the series, there may be a little chink in Mallory's armour.  A small girl is found wandering alone in Central Park...with blood on her tee shirt. She says the blood fell from the sky while she was looking for her uncle who turned into a tree. There is something special about Coco. She has Williams Syndrome and can't really tell them exactly where she's from or who she is. But with help from psychologist Charles Butler, they are able to decode what she's trying to tell them. Coco seems to stir something in Mallory - one wounded child recognizing another.

When Mallory locates the uncle, the case leads to places no one could have ever predicted.

And that's the beauty of O'Connell's books. You just never have an idea where the plots will lead. They're inventive, intriguing, intelligent and will keep you guessing until the end. They might keep you up late too - the crimes are bizarre and gruesome -  perfect fodder for crime thriller aficionados.  Each chapter opens with an excerpt from what seems to be a journal of someone called Ernest Nadler. I'm glad I read everything on the page - these entries told a story on their own that eventually met Mallory's path.

The character of Mallory continues to intrigue me. Small details about her past and small glimpses past the barriers she has erected have been slowly inserted into each new entry in this series. We still really have no idea who Kathy Mallory really is. But I am inextricably hooked by this flawed protagonist.

See what I mean - read an excerpt of The Chalk Girl.  You can find O'Connell on Facebook.


Anonymous said...

This is a series that I intend to begin this year. I've been compiling my collection of Mallory books and so am ready. I've enjoyed other protagonists that have serious issues with other people. Looking forward to getting to know Kathy Mallory.

bermudaonion said...

I've never experienced O'Connell's work, but it sounds like I would love this series.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

sounds good! i will have to start this series, thanks for the recommendation!

christa @ mental foodie said...

This sounds like a good series! Is it best to start from Book 1?

Cath said...

I've never heard of this series before but now I really want to read it. I love discovering new series...especially long and established ones. Then you are never without a book to read!

Marce said...

This sounds like a great read and one series that I should start from the beginning and just enjoy.

Luanne said...

Kay, Kathy, Pinkflipflops, Cath and Marc - It is a great series and one that didn't get a lot of press or recognition in the beginning. I think that has changed - readers have discovered what a good writer O'Connell is.

Christa - Hard to say. Ther character has certainly evolved, but if you wanted to try just one and then go back, it would work too.

Anonymous said...

Waited a long time for this book..and my only problem with it was... I read it in one night and now have nothing else to read.. Thanks for another great book in the Mallery series.

doris zumik of hammond, Indiana

Luanne said...

Doris - I know - don't you hate it when the book is done and you want more!?

Luanne said...

Doris - I know - don't you hate it when the book is done and you want more!?