The Chalk Girl (Kathleen Mallory Series #10)

The Chalk Girl (Kathleen Mallory Series #10)

4.4 38
by Carol O'Connell
     
 

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The eight-year-old girl appeared in New York’s Central Park one day: red-haired, blue-eyed, dirty-faced, smiling widely. She looked perfect, like a porcelain fairy—except for the blood on her shoulders. It fell from the sky, she told the police. It happened while she was looking for her Uncle Red, who had turned into a tree. Right, they thought,

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Overview

The eight-year-old girl appeared in New York’s Central Park one day: red-haired, blue-eyed, dirty-faced, smiling widely. She looked perfect, like a porcelain fairy—except for the blood on her shoulders. It fell from the sky, she told the police. It happened while she was looking for her Uncle Red, who had turned into a tree. Right, they thought, poor child. And then they found the body in the tree.

For Mallory, newly returned to the Special Crimes Unit after three months’ lost time, spent she will not say where, there is something about the girl that she understands. Mallory is damaged, they say, dangerously unstable, but she can tell a kindred spirit when she sees one. And this one will ultimately lead her to a story of extraordinary crimes, to murders stretching back fifteen years, to blackmail and complicity and a particular cruelty that perhaps 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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“O’Connell has raised the standard for psychological thrillers.”—Chicago Tribune

“Before Salander took the world by storm, there was Mallory, the most gloriously original heroine to grace crime fiction’s meanest and darkest streets.” —Sarah Weinman, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

“O’Connell’s wonderful Mallory novels are among the best crime fiction ever written.”—San Jose Mercury News

Janet Maslin
The Chalk Girl is an event of sorts—any Mallory book is—and works decently as a stand-alone. But it has a complicated, grisly New York City plot that keeps Mallory in the background and that could not be more Scandinavian if Stieg Larsson had devised it. Like the Dragon Tattoo books it abounds with malicious familial relationships, damaging psychological histories, bizarre acts of cruelty and small talk tinged with sadism. What offsets this nastiness is Ms. O'Connell's elegant wit…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Near the start of bestseller O’Connell outstanding 10th novel featuring New York City cop Kathy Mallory (after 2006’s Find Me), the enigmatic Mallory, despite having been declared mentally unfit to return to duty following an unexplained three month long absence, nonchalantly reclaims her desk in the Special Crimes Unit. Nobody questions “Mallory the Machine,” especially after she connects with a savantlike child found wandering alone in Central Park. Eight-year-old Coco has witnessed a kidnapping and murder, but the girl is incapable of describing the killer. The murder of Coco’s uncle is one of three similar crimes that Mallory begins to suspect are linked to a couple of cold cases as well as to pervasive corruption among the city’s elite. O’Connell’s awesome ability to weave a taut, complex plot works with Mallory’s equally awesome detective skills as she unearths each crystalline facet of crimes both past and present. Author tour. (Jan.)
Library Journal
It has been five years since O'Connell gave us a new novel in her Mallory series, but the action picks up only a few weeks after we last saw Mallory melting down in Find Me. Once again, a child is in jeopardy, one who may be a witness to a series of grisly crimes in New York's Central Park. Coco is an unusual child, but she charms even the antisocial detective Mallory, though her partner, Riker, and friend Charles Butler doubt how deeply she can care for the little girl. But Mallory, who predates both Dexter Morgan and Lisbeth Salander as an unlikely crime-stopping sociopath, does care for Coco—in her own violently protective way. As Mallory and Riker unravel the mystery, older crimes are uncovered, along with the ways adults repeatedly fail the children around them. VERDICT O'Connell offers more than a suspenseful tale; she portrays a complex world of dark and light, corruption and love, in a New York City that retains its grittiness. Another must-read in a compelling and rich crime series. [See Prepub Alert, 7/11/11.]—Devon Thomas, DevIndexing, Chelsea, MI
Kirkus Reviews
A complex, gritty thriller that is at once hard to take and hard to put down. It opens with a woman taking a group of schoolchildren on a visit to Sheep Meadow, part of Manhattan's Central Park. After the children wander off, she collapses and dies from a massive stroke, and a horde of rats gnaw on her corpse. A mysterious 8-year-old waif named Coco appears and displays considerable knowledge of vermin. One of a series of novels featuring NYPD detective Kathy Mallory, this book has a number of surprising and grisly twists. The characters are fascinating, though, including crazy Mallory, who had once been a street urchin herself and now brings a unique perspective to her job. Coco has Williams Syndrome, a condition that manifests itself partly in excessive desire to be loved, even by strangers. Give her a hug and she's cool, but don't get her started talking about rats. Meanwhile, Mallory investigates the murder of a schoolboy named Ernest Nadler--Dead Ernest--who has been systematically tormented by a small group of other children. Who are they, and why did they do it? Has someone put them up to the crime? No doubt children exist who are capable of such evil, although they are hard to imagine. And perhaps such children--speaking of vermin--need no particular motivation to inflict themselves on a classmate. But the ultimate motivation for the crime and the deep, insane intrafamily hatred seem rather hard to believe. Hardly the craziest character in the story, Mallory pursues the case with a certain emotional detachment. She gets in the faces of powerful people even as she strives to protect the strange Coco, who doesn't seem surprised when rats fall from the sky. Readers who dislike tales of torture and murder of children will take a pass on this one, but those who relish justice will be glad they read to the end.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425250303
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/03/2012
Series:
Kathleen Mallory Series, #10
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
487,145
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

“O’Connell has raised the standard for psychological thrillers.”—Chicago Tribune

“Before Salander took the world by storm, there was Mallory, the most gloriously original heroine to grace crime fiction’s meanest and darkest streets.” —Sarah Weinman, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

“O’Connell’s wonderful Mallory novels are among the best crime fiction ever written.”—San Jose Mercury News

Meet the Author

Carol O’Connell is the author of eleven previous books, nine featuring Kathy Mallory, most recently Find Me, and the stand-alones Judas Child and Bone by Bone. She lives in New York City.

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The Chalk Girl 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
Carol O’Connell’s twelfth book, and the tenth Mallory novel, finds that NYPD detective having recently returned from a mysterious three-month ‘leave’ [translation: she disappeared from her job in the Special Crimes Unit, and apparently from New York, to unknown locations and simply showed up again for work one day], promptly receiving an evaluation of being a dangerously unstable sociopath from the department shrink and assigned to desk duty, that “graveyard of damaged cops.” That assignment is short-lived, however, upon the discovery of the body of a man in a tree in Central Park. When two more bodies turn up in short order, there is an outcry, not unreasonably, from the public, as well as within the police department, for a quick solution and arrest. The ensuing investigation opens a Pandora’s Box of corruption. [There are, e.g., references to ‘high-ranking politicians and other criminals’.] I loved the description of a hospital administrator, “a man who amazed one and all by the act of walking upright in the absence of a spine.” I must admit I’m late to the party: This was my first book in the Kathy Mallory series. Not only is her protagonist a character unlike any other - - Mallory the Machine as she is known within the cop shop, a tall, slim 26-year-old blonde with electric green eyes, incredible computer hacking skills, raised by her foster parents, and “late, great cop” Lou Markowitz and his wife; but the supporting cast is terrific as well. Among them are Charles Butler, technologically retarded 41-year-old psychologist and consultant to the police, he of the unspoken and unrequited love for Mallory, who permitted him to use her first name – - a very exclusive group, to be sure - - , and her partner, Detective Sergeant Riker, a regular at Birdland, the jazz club in Manhattan. But the most fascinating is Coco [“like the hot chocolate,” as she says], the little red-haired eight-year-old girl who initially reported the first body, a very bright child who suffers from Williams syndrome, a rare disease typified by hyper-acuity, and certain distinctive facial qualities, among other things. The child has huge commonalties to Mallory herself, in background and lack of ability to communicate easily with others, and the two bond immediately. This case presents a huge challenge for Mallory, but when has that ever stopped her? It is fascinating to follow the painstaking steps that finally [albeit somewhat slowly] bring the detectives to the solution to this baffling case. I found this book to be many things: chilling, unsettling, somewhat disappointing and unsure why this was so, but ultimately recommended.
seashellNC More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of complex thrillers, this is the book for you. This is the first Kathleen Mallory book I've ever read, but it won't be my last. O'Connell weaves a tale that will keep the reader on their toes throughout the book. A little girl is found in the woods of Central Park. She talks to a tree who she says is her uncle. She may know who a murderer is. But Coco has Williams syndrome and has attached herself to Mallory. Mallory is bent on protecting Coco and getting her help with the bizarre murder. Coco's temporary guardian, a psychologist familiar with Williams syndrome, is trying to keep Mallory from getting to close to the girl and from overwhelming her with questions about the murderer. The characters are well written, each intertwined in the history of others. Maybe it has been this way throughout the whole Mallory series, but it works in this book even if this is the first Mallory book you read. Mallory is a bit psycho. She will do almost anything to reach her end goal. The NYPD is lucky she is on their side. But somehow, it seems Coco touches her cold, cold heart. This was a very enjoyable book to read. The intricacies of the plot and relationships will keep you guessing about what happens on the next page. But, it wasn't the kind of book I couldn't put down. Even so, I want to go back and read the rest of the series.
Claudsies More than 1 year ago
I have been waiting over four years for another Mallory book. After the very good "Find Me," I thought our adventures with Mallory were over. I was so happy to find "Chalk girl." As always, O'Connell weaves a complex mystery, getting the reader involved in the story. The main mystery involves a little girl named Coco whose 'uncle' is taken up by a tree. The mystery deepens, as other characters, past and present, are introduced. The chapters begin brilliantly with a wonderful insight into the mind of a young boy, making the reader aware of the dear boy's importance. The book is deliciously gory, filled with rats, hanging bodies and brutality, but it also (like Mallory) has a heart. The ending, as usual, gave me much to think about and made move love the characters (Charles, Riker, Mallory, even Heller) that much more. I really can't wait until the next Mallory novel. Our girl Mallory is not for everyone. However, if a reader gives her an opportunity, she will steal the reader's heart. Begin with "Mallory's Oracle," thought, to truly understand the wonder of Mallory.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I always anxiously await the latest installment in this series and have yet to be disappointed. It's never really about the plot but more akin to looking in on old friends. O'Connell has created characters who are perfectly flawed; the not-quite sociopathic Mallory and the men who love her. What should be a quirky little mystery series is so much more; there is unexpected depth in these stories, and always, in the end, a trace of hope.
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bookmavenNY More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Not only did I learn something, but I think this was the first time the author gave Mallory a sense of empathy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good read.  I had abandoned this series after Find Me, which was disappointing, but I'm glad I read this one.  Yeah, yeah, we all know that Mallory is beautiful and brilliant and damaged, and that schtik does wear thin,  but this is a good story.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series! If you haven't read the others in the series you will love them all. They all stand alone as great complete stories but are even richer together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carol O'Connell is one of my favorite authors, and her character, Mallory, is one of my favorite detectives. Ms O'Connell's books are rivetting with characters so well-defined, the reader can visualize what they look like. Each of her Mallory stories is different from the others---none of the standard formula of cranking out stories that are the same story each book. I would recommend all of her books, but the reader should start with the first book, and follow the series chronologically.
kateruby More than 1 year ago
As a longtime Mallory fan, I think I "get" many of her motivations. I'm amazed that many of the male characters still are having a hard time figuring her out. What makes a really good read is a story that pulls you in immediately and makes you feel -- postively or negatively -- about the characters. This was a riveting story, and while I figured out many of the details before they were revealed, it was no less interesting. A great psychological page turner. No matter what the other characters may have thought, I believe Mallory bonded with the little girl.
Surfurgrl More than 1 year ago
This book didn't bore me like a lot of novels do now days.I read before I go to sleep almost every night. Too many writers out there with little talent. Not in this case. Really enjoyed the book! It was very realistic too. I don't usually read series books as they get too predictable but I might check the rest of this one out! Get it you will enjoy it too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hadn't read this author before but got hooked from the beginning on the story. Will have to go back and read some of the earlier books to get a better understanding of the troubled and quirky investigator.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great addition to mallory series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed the books in this series. This latest one is no exception; tightly plotted and all of the characters very true to themselves. Someone is hanging bodies up in Central Park, and it's going to take Mallory and Riker to figure it out.