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Shell Game (1999)
by Carol O'Connell
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Could not finish ( )
The second Kathleen Mallory entry mentioned, as an off-stage character, a legendary magician whose signature trick was to make his audiences believe that his dead wife was with him, as a ghost. In this outing, the magician is the center of attention.
Kathleen Mallory is convinced that the death of a magician during his recreation of a trick famed for being dangerous was murder. She is also convinced that the bullet that brought down the balloon of America's most loved cartoon character during Macy's Thanksgiving Parade was fired in another murder attempt. She spends most of the novel in a mental chess game with the Great Malakhai, whom she believes is planning to murder the man who murdered his wife. She fails, rather refreshingly.
But she also finds a way to win. That is one of the things I disliked about this effort; I would have liked seeing the little monster made more vulnerable. I will admit that the book did humanize her more. The old man doesn't seduce her sexually, but he does get her to fall for him on some level, although he can't get her to abandon her duty. He also diagnoses her more convincingly that her psychologists did when she was eleven. He thinks she is ruthless, not psychopathic, the latter being the opinion of her friends and admirers, and I do believe he is right. Her ruthlessness is can still be jaw-dropping. I am starting to like the character as much as I do her adventures. I think that started when the old man got her a little drunk and persuaded her to wear a top hat as she talked to him.
This book is one of a series of books by Carol O'Connell about a beautiful, damaged, maverick, and almost sociopathic detective named Kathleen Mallory (who insists on being called simply "Mallory"), and the people that love her despite her flaws: Charles, an intelligent, rich, but ugly family friend; Lou, the cop that takes her in; and Riker, her adopted father's partner. The relationships that develop between these characters as they solve crimes together are the focus of the series.
This story (the fifth in the series), has Mallory investigating a magician's murder; it is an involving story, with interesting supportive characters.
Kathy Mallory takes on the world of professional magicians in an intriguing mystery.
For those unfamiliar with the character, she is a sort of Dexter, a semi-sociopath with a leavening of strong devotion to a saving father figure and the rules of her chosen police environment. Beautiful, implacable, fierce, and troubled.
One of my favorite series. This is where O'Connell really shone, with a protagonist and characters who were both sympathetic and adversarial. I'm looking forward to going back and re-reading all of her Kathleen Mallory stories. They are exceptional.
A magician dies while performing a trick on television and everyone assumes it was an accident, everyone except Kathleen Mallory of the New York police. She finds the motive in a crime involving magicians half a century earlier.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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