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The Chalk Girl (2011)
by Carol O'Connell
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This book starts off with a bang. I was totally engrossed. The writing is excellent. I stopped reading about 12% into it for two reasons. The story of the crime and descriptions were too upsetting for me. The other thing was that the main character is not at all likable. Her flaws are too much to be redeemed by her ability as a detective.
Stumbled upon this series ~years~ ago... may have read Judas Child (stand-alone) first. Was very taken with this authors style of psychological thriller/mystery. She does not disappoint, Mallory is still a cold psycho cop.... but we get the most minute hints that there might be more... maybe.
(would love to meet Charles Butler, still & always my favorite character)
This was my first in the series. Interesting protagonist in Detective Kathy Mallory. Intricate plot, but am I to believe everyone in a family is a psychopath? I hadn't heard of Williams Syndrome before.
Excellent narration by Barbara Rosenblatt, as usual.
The Chalk Girl is the tenth book in Carol O’Connell’s Kathleen Mallory series. So it should come as no surprise that this review will probably have spoilers for previous books in the series. If, like me, you haven’t read the previous books in the series, you can jump in with this book without too much trouble.
The book begins with a lovely day in Central Park, following a group of visiting school children and their teacher. An odd, red haired little girl slips in with the group, but she certainly doesn’t belong there, and there’s blood all over her shirt . . .
The girl tells police that the blood fell from the sky, that she is here in the park with her uncle, but that he turned into a tree. The mystery deepens when the body of a man is found, wrapped up like a Christmas present and hung from a tree.
Enter Detective Kathleen Mallory, former street urchin and pickpocket, foster daughter of a police inspector, and all around cold hard bitch. Mallory and her partner have been assigned to the little girl’s case, and as more bodies in trees begin to pop up in Central Park, Mallory must use her considerable detective skills to find out what connection a strange little girl has with these gruesome murders.
This is a dark, twisted mystery novel. Think Jeffery Deaver’s The Bone Collector or the books by J.K. Rowling’s alter ego: Robert Galbraith. The plot twists and turns through the back alleys of the worst of human nature. Weaving together dark family secrets, police corruption, and tortured pasts, O’Connell has provided us with a compelling story. Mallory as a character is fairly unlikeable; she’s rude, misanthropic, and more than a bit sociopathic, yet O’Connell makes you want to root for her (and can I say, I do enjoy a female antihero, they’re so rare).
So I would say that if you’ve read the Mallory books up to this point, you’ll certainly want to continue the series with this book. If you haven’t read the series, this is still a great story, and it will likely make you (like me) want to go back and start the series from book one.
A copy of this book was provided for review via Goodreads Giveaways. The Chalk Girl is currently available for purchase.
Mallory’s idiosyncrasies make her a natural for this bizarre case, but her professional skills and belligerent manner are broadcast in a comic-book idiom so lurid it would make even Lisbeth Salander blush.
"Before Lisbeth Salander, there was Kathy Mallory. The astonishing new Mallory novel from the New York Times-bestselling author. The little girl appeared in Central Park: red-haired, blue-eyed, smiling, perfect-except for the blood on her shoulder. It fell from the sky, she said, while she was looking for her uncle, who turned into a tree. Poor child, people thought. And then they found the body in the tree. For Mallory, newly returned to the Special Crimes Unit after three months' lost time, there is something about the girl that she understands. Mallory is damaged, they say, but she can tell a kindred spirit. And this one will lead her to a story of extraordinary crimes: murders stretching back fifteen years, blackmail and complicity and a particular cruelty that only someone with Mallory's history could fully recognize. In the next few weeks, she will deal with them... all in her own way. "--
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.
Mallory, the detective in this series, finds an eight-year-old child in Central Park. She is dirty and extremely friendly. She tells a wild tale. She calls herself Coco. Coco is the first clue to a series of murders and attempted murder that lead Mallory back in time.
Years ago in a private school a little girl died by falling from the roof. Her body was outlined in chalk. In a strange tradition, every year the chalk drawing is repeated on the walkway.
How the present-day murders connect to students at that school long ago is what Mallory eventually finds out.
Mallory is an odd detective. She's unpredictable, has good instincts, tends to have something of an autistic personality. She likes to threaten people. She doesn't do anything half-ass. She's a bit of a comic character.
Her partner and her chief generally understand her and protect her from herself as well as from higher-ups who prefer that cops play by the rules. She's really a bit of a caricature, yet she's likable enough. I felt she was a bit over the top but I'd read another book in this series. ( )