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Crime School (Kathleen Mallory Series #6)

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Police Detective Kathleen Mallory recognized the crime scene: victim hanging, hair in mouth, fire burning. It happened twenty-one years ago, when Mallory was a child. She also recognized the victim...
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Crime School (Kathleen Mallory Series #6)

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Overview

Police Detective Kathleen Mallory recognized the crime scene: victim hanging, hair in mouth, fire burning. It happened twenty-one years ago, when Mallory was a child. She also recognized the victim...
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
What keeps them - and us-on Mallory's side is O'Connell's mastery of those dirty back rooms of the mind and soul.
Publishers Weekly
In this seventh gripping entry in O'Connell's popular Mallory series, Special Crimes investigator Kathy Mallory again prowls the mean streets of New York, digging deeper into her past even as she and her cohorts ferret out a grisly serial killer. Each novel in the series reveals a little more about the utterly improbable and compellingly mythic life story of its protagonist, a tough cop and computer ace raised by hookers on the streets of New York. In this installment, Mallory's particular mentor, the prostitute Sparrow, is found partially scalped, hanging in a room decorated with jars of dead flies an M.O. that recalls a murderer from decades ago. The grim murder plot is offset by a cast of cartoony characters, ranging from series regular Charles Butler, Mallory's gentle giant best friend, to the rookie yellow-haired detective Ronald Deluthe, aka Duck Boy. O'Connell illuminates these oddballs with her lightly whimsical prose: "When Charles closed his tired eyes, he saw a tiny thief who ran with whores and lived by guile, surviving on animal instinct to get through the night an altogether admirable child." The side puzzle, a bibliomystery involving a series of pulp Westerns that obsessed Mallory as a girl, almost steals the show when it is solved. This novel is gritty, streetwise, funny and sure to bring in more fans for the still-enigmatic Mallory. (Sept. 16) Forecast: O'Connell's quirky series may not have hit bestseller lists yet, but solid sales attest to its loyal reader base. The long spell between the publication of the previous installment (Shell Game, 1999) and this one means diehard fans will be extra eager for their fix, and an author tour should recruit new readers. 60,000 first printing. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Mallory's back! That's all O'Connell's many fans will need to hear before they grab this novel off the shelf. O'Connell's singular detective (Mallory's Oracle) has always treaded a fine line between heroine and psychopath. In this installment, more is revealed about how the always intelligent, always scary Kathy Mallory got that way. A serial killer's modus operandi involving stalking, hanging, and dead flies hits Mallory and her partner hard when one of the victims is a former prostitute who used to read Mallory bedtime stories when she was a homeless wild child. O'Connell neatly pairs the two story lines of Mallory's mysterious past and her current investigation even as she heightens the tension by alternating passages from the next victim's point of view. O'Connell delivers all the best parts of suspense fiction - plot twists, chilling details, and a rapid pace - while simultaneously delving into the psyche of her protagonists. She displays not only the dark horrors of the criminal mind but also what lurks in the hearts of those who try to protect us. Public libraries should buy multiple copies for their Mallory fans. - Devon Thomas, Hass MS&L, Ann Arbor, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sparrow, a middle-aged prostitute, is found hanging in the living room of her Greenwich Village apartment, the centerpiece of a ritualistic arrangement. Lit candles surround her; pieces of her hair are chopped off and stuffed in her mouth. The apartment has been set afire in select places, and dead insects surround the woman who, miraculously, survives in a coma. There's a double jolt for the NYPD's Kathleen Mallory (Shell Game, 1999, etc.): The crime scene reminds her of an unsolved murder of a generation ago, and Sparrow is a significant figure from Mallory's childhood. The closest thing to the adopted girl's big sister, Sparrow represented glamour, street smarts, and danger. Mallory's connection to the victim makes her colleagues privately question her judgment and doubt her conviction that they're looking for a serial killer. And sloppy police work in that earlier case, the murder of a young woman named Natalie Homer, obscures the connection to Sparrow's attempted murder. Though Mallory is the story's linchpin, O'Connell cuts among a handful of Special Crimes cops, sharply delineated, as they follow old leads and new evidence. Mallory's scruffy partner Riker arouses her suspicion by pocketing and concealing key evidence that leads him to unexpected corners of Sparrow's world. Mallory's mentor, methodical Charles Butler, uncovers eye-opening details about her past. And cocky younger detective Deluthe stumbles into dangerous situations and valuable witnesses as the anonymous killer closes in on struggling actress Stella Small. Like the best work of James Lee Burke and Barbara Vine, O'Connell's character-driven procedural transcends genre pigeonholing. The juxtaposition of grisly detailand elegantly elliptical writing creates suspense that builds and resonates. First printing of 60,000; author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399149283
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/9/2002
  • Series: Kathleen Mallory Series , #6
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author


Carol O'Connell is the author of eight previous Mallory novels, including the national bestseller Winter House, and of Judas Child.
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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

high in the sky, apartment windows were smudges of grimy yellow, and this passed for starlight in New York City. Loud Latin rhythms from a car radio drifted down First Avenue. The sedan turned sharply, brakes screaming, narrowly missing a small blond girl with fugitive eyes. The child stood on tiptoe, poised for flight, arms rising like thin white wings.

A book was knocked from the hands of a woman on the sidewalk as the little girl sped past her in a breeze of flying hair and churning legs, small feet slapping pavement in time to the music of a passing boom box-a rock 'n' roll getaway. The eyes of the running child were not green, not Kathy's eyes, yet the startled woman saw her as a familiar wraith rocketing through space and years of time.

Fifteen years, you fool. And Kathy Mallory was not so small anymore, nor was she dead-not the makings of a ghost.

Sweat rolled down Sparrow's face. If not for the stolen book, would her mind have made that stumble? Again, the woman looked back the way she had come, but there was no sign of the man who had followed her from the bookshop. She had circled round and round, taking the long way home to lose him, and he had not hurried his steps to keep up with her. He had moved with inexorable resolve to the measured beat of a march. His body had no language, no life.

If a dead man could walk.

Sparrow's hands were clammy, a sign of anxiety, but she blamed it on the weather, so hot and muggy in this gray hour after sundown. And she blamed her costume for the stares from other pedestrians. The mutton-sleeve blouse and long skirt were too bizarre for a twenty-first-century heat wave. A match flared close beside her as a man, a harmless type, lit a cigarette, then passed her by. Her heart beat faster, and she rationalized away the second warning, taking it for guilt.

If not for the book-

She looked down at her empty hands and panicked-then sighed. The precious paperback lay on the sidewalk at her feet, and she bent low to snatch it back. On the rise, another figure, quiet as smoke, moved alongside her in the half-dozen mirrors of a drugstore window. She could still be surprised by these chance encounters with herself, for the surgically altered face needed no makeup to cover a history of broken bones and ravaged skin. The blue eyes of her reflection looked back across a gap of seventeen years, fresh off a Greyhound bus from the Southland.

Sparrow nodded. "I remember you, girl."

What an unholy haunted night.

She hid the book behind her back, as if a tattered novel might be worth stealing. In fact, she planned to burn it. But the book was not what the stalking man wanted. Sparrow looked uptown and down. He would be so easy to spot in this crowd of normal humans. Apparently, she had lost him at some turn of a corner. Yet every inch of her prickled, as though a thousand tiny insects crept about beneath her skin.

She hurried homeward, not looking back anymore, but only paying attention to a voice inside her head. Fear was a good old friend of hers, who broke into her thoughts to say, Hello, and then, Ain't it gettin' dark? And now, Run, girl!

One

greenwich village had lost its edge long ago, becoming a stately old lady among New York neighborhoods. One of the grande dame's children stood beneath the great stone arch in Washington Square Park. The boy wore trendy camouflage pants, all dressed up for a revolution-should one come along the way buses do.

A guitar case lay at his feet, open to donations from passersby, though no one slowed down to drop him a dime. People marched past, sweating and cursing the heat of August, hurrying home to cold beers and canned music. It would take spectacle on a grander scale to get their attention tonight.

An unmarked police car crawled by in air-conditioned silence. Detective Sergeant Riker rolled down the passenger window and listened to a ripple of melancholy notes on soft nylon strings.

Not what he had expected.

Evidently, the teenage musician had missed the point of being young. Thirty-five years ago, Riker had been the boy beneath the arch, but his own guitar had been strung with steel, electrified and amplified, ripping out music to make people manic, forcing them to dance down the sidewalk.

What a rush.

And the entire universe had revolved around him.

He had sold that electric guitar to buy a ring for a girl he had loved more than rock 'n' roll. The marriage had ended, and the music had also deserted him.

The window closed. The car rolled on.

Kathy Mallory took the wheel for every tour of duty, but not by choice. Torn between drinking and driving, her partner had allowed his license to expire. The detectives were nearing the end of their shift, and Riker guessed that Mallory had plans for the evening. She was wearing her formal running shoes, black ones to match the silk T-shirt and jeans. The sleeves of her white linen blazer were rolled back, and this was her only concession to the heat. If asked to describe the youngest detective on the squad, he would bypass the obvious things, the creamy skin of a natural blonde and the very unnatural eyes; he would say, "Mallory doesn't sweat."

And she had other deviations.

Riker's cell phone beeped. He pulled it out to exchange a few words with another man across town, then folded it into his pocket. "No dinner tonight. A homicide cop on First Avenue and Ninth wants a consult."

The jam of civilian cars thinned out, and Mallory put on speed. Riker felt the car tilt when it turned the corner, rushing into the faster stream of northbound traffic. She sent the vehicle hurtling toward the rear end of a yellow cab that quickly slid out of the lane-her lane now. Other drivers edged off, dropping back and away, not sporting enough to risk sudden impact. She never used the portable turret light or the siren, for cops got no respect in this town-but sheer terror worked every time.

Riker leaned toward her, keeping his cool as he said, "I don't wanna die tonight."

Mallory turned her face to his. The long slants of her green eyes glittered, thieving eerie light from the dashboard, and her smile suggested that he could jump if he liked. And so a nervous game began, for she was watching traffic only in peripheral vision. He put up his hands in a show of surrender, and she turned her eyes back to the road.

Riker held a silent conversation with the late Louis Markowitz, a ghost he carried around in his heart as balm for anxious moments like this one. It was almost a prayer, and it always began with Lou, you bastard.

Fifteen years had passed since Kathy Mallory had roamed the streets as a child. Being homeless was damned hard work, and running the tired little girl to ground had been the job of Riker's old friend, Louis Markowitz, but only as a hobby. Lost children had never been the province of Special Crimes Unit, not while they lived. And they would have to die under unusual circumstances to merit a professional interest. So Kathy had become the little blond fox of an after-hours hunt. The game had begun with these words, spoken so casually: "Oh, Riker? If she draws on you, don't kill her. Her gun is plastic, it fires pellets-and she's only nine or ten years old."

After her capture, the child had rolled back her thin shoulders, drawn herself up to her full height of nothing, and insisted that she was twelve years old. What a liar-and what great dignity; Lou Markowitz could have crushed her with a laugh. Instead, with endless patience, he had negotiated her down to eleven years of age, and the foster-care paperwork had begun with this more believable lie.

Now Kathy Mallory's other name was Markowitz's Daughter.

The old man had been killed in the line of duty, and Riker missed him every day. Lou's foster child was taller now, five ten; she had upgraded her plastic gun to a .357 revolver; and her partner was not allowed to call her Kathy anymore.

The homicide detectives were speeding toward a crime scene that belonged to another man. The East Side lieutenant had sweetened his invitation with a bet, giving odds of "Ten'll get you twenty" that they had never seen a murder quite like this one.

--from Crime School: A Mallory Novel by Carol O'Connell, Copyright © 2002, G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Prologue

high in the sky, apartment windows were smudges of grimy yellow, and this passed for starlight in New York City. Loud Latin rhythms from a car radio drifted down First Avenue. The sedan turned sharply, brakes screaming, narrowly missing a small blond girl with fugitive eyes. The child stood on tiptoe, poised for flight, arms rising like thin white wings.

A book was knocked from the hands of a woman on the sidewalk as the little girl sped past her in a breeze of flying hair and churning legs, small feet slapping pavement in time to the music of a passing boom box-a rock 'n' roll getaway. The eyes of the running child were not green, not Kathy's eyes, yet the startled woman saw her as a familiar wraith rocketing through space and years of time.

Fifteen years, you fool. And Kathy Mallory was not so small anymore, nor was she dead-not the makings of a ghost.

Sweat rolled down Sparrow's face. If not for the stolen book, would her mind have made that stumble? Again, the woman looked back the way she had come, but there was no sign of the man who had followed her from the bookshop. She had circled round and round, taking the long way home to lose him, and he had not hurried his steps to keep up with her. He had moved with inexorable resolve to the measured beat of a march. His body had no language, no life.

If a dead man could walk.

Sparrow's hands were clammy, a sign of anxiety, but she blamed it on the weather, so hot and muggy in this gray hour after sundown. And she blamed her costume for the stares from other pedestrians. The mutton-sleeve blouse and long skirt were too bizarre for a twenty-first-century heat wave. A match flared close beside her as a man, a harmless type, lit a cigarette, then passed her by. Her heart beat faster, and she rationalized away the second warning, taking it for guilt.

If not for the book-

She looked down at her empty hands and panicked-then sighed. The precious paperback lay on the sidewalk at her feet, and she bent low to snatch it back. On the rise, another figure, quiet as smoke, moved alongside her in the half-dozen mirrors of a drugstore window. She could still be surprised by these chance encounters with herself, for the surgically altered face needed no makeup to cover a history of broken bones and ravaged skin. The blue eyes of her reflection looked back across a gap of seventeen years, fresh off a Greyhound bus from the Southland.

Sparrow nodded. "I remember you, girl."

What an unholy haunted night.

She hid the book behind her back, as if a tattered novel might be worth stealing. In fact, she planned to burn it. But the book was not what the stalking man wanted. Sparrow looked uptown and down. He would be so easy to spot in this crowd of normal humans. Apparently, she had lost him at some turn of a corner. Yet every inch of her prickled, as though a thousand tiny insects crept about beneath her skin.

She hurried homeward, not looking back anymore, but only paying attention to a voice inside her head. Fear was a good old friend of hers, who broke into her thoughts to say, Hello, and then, Ain't it gettin' dark? And now, Run, girl!

One

greenwich village had lost its edge long ago, becoming a stately old lady among New York neighborhoods. One of the grande dame's children stood beneath the great stone arch in Washington Square Park. The boy wore trendy camouflage pants, all dressed up for a revolution-should one come along the way buses do.

A guitar case lay at his feet, open to donations from passersby, though no one slowed down to drop him a dime. People marched past, sweating and cursing the heat of August, hurrying home to cold beers and canned music. It would take spectacle on a grander scale to get their attention tonight.

An unmarked police car crawled by in air-conditioned silence. Detective Sergeant Riker rolled down the passenger window and listened to a ripple of melancholy notes on soft nylon strings.

Not what he had expected.

Evidently, the teenage musician had missed the point of being young. Thirty-five years ago, Riker had been the boy beneath the arch, but his own guitar had been strung with steel, electrified and amplified, ripping out music to make people manic, forcing them to dance down the sidewalk.

What a rush.

And the entire universe had revolved around him.

He had sold that electric guitar to buy a ring for a girl he had loved more than rock 'n' roll. The marriage had ended, and the music had also deserted him.

The window closed. The car rolled on.

Kathy Mallory took the wheel for every tour of duty, but not by choice. Torn between drinking and driving, her partner had allowed his license to expire. The detectives were nearing the end of their shift, and Riker guessed that Mallory had plans for the evening. She was wearing her formal running shoes, black ones to match the silk T-shirt and jeans. The sleeves of her white linen blazer were rolled back, and this was her only concession to the heat. If asked to describe the youngest detective on the squad, he would bypass the obvious things, the creamy skin of a natural blonde and the very unnatural eyes; he would say, "Mallory doesn't sweat."

And she had other deviations.

Riker's cell phone beeped. He pulled it out to exchange a few words with another man across town, then folded it into his pocket. "No dinner tonight. A homicide cop on First Avenue and Ninth wants a consult."

The jam of civilian cars thinned out, and Mallory put on speed. Riker felt the car tilt when it turned the corner, rushing into the faster stream of northbound traffic. She sent the vehicle hurtling toward the rear end of a yellow cab that quickly slid out of the lane-her lane now. Other drivers edged off, dropping back and away, not sporting enough to risk sudden impact. She never used the portable turret light or the siren, for cops got no respect in this town-but sheer terror worked every time.

Riker leaned toward her, keeping his cool as he said, "I don't wanna die tonight."

Mallory turned her face to his. The long slants of her green eyes glittered, thieving eerie light from the dashboard, and her smile suggested that he could jump if he liked. And so a nervous game began, for she was watching traffic only in peripheral vision. He put up his hands in a show of surrender, and she turned her eyes back to the road.

Riker held a silent conversation with the late Louis Markowitz, a ghost he carried around in his heart as balm for anxious moments like this one. It was almost a prayer, and it always began with Lou, you bastard.

Fifteen years had passed since Kathy Mallory had roamed the streets as a child. Being homeless was damned hard work, and running the tired little girl to ground had been the job of Riker's old friend, Louis Markowitz, but only as a hobby. Lost children had never been the province of Special Crimes Unit, not while they lived. And they would have to die under unusual circumstances to merit a professional interest. So Kathy had become the little blond fox of an after-hours hunt. The game had begun with these words, spoken so casually: "Oh, Riker? If she draws on you, don't kill her. Her gun is plastic, it fires pellets-and she's only nine or ten years old."

After her capture, the child had rolled back her thin shoulders, drawn herself up to her full height of nothing, and insisted that she was twelve years old. What a liar-and what great dignity; Lou Markowitz could have crushed her with a laugh. Instead, with endless patience, he had negotiated her down to eleven years of age, and the foster-care paperwork had begun with this more believable lie.

Now Kathy Mallory's other name was Markowitz's Daughter.

The old man had been killed in the line of duty, and Riker missed him every day. Lou's foster child was taller now, five ten; she had upgraded her plastic gun to a .357 revolver; and her partner was not allowed to call her Kathy anymore.

The homicide detectives were speeding toward a crime scene that belonged to another man. The East Side lieutenant had sweetened his invitation with a bet, giving odds of "Ten'll get you twenty" that they had never seen a murder quite like this one.

—from Crime School: A Mallory Novel by Carol O'Connell, Copyright © 2002, G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2004

    Love the Kathleen Mallory Series

    This book is is even better the second time you read it! Crime School includes some insights into Mallorys early life on the street and ties it into her life as a cop. I enjoy how the author brings the charaters to life and makes the reader feel like they know them on a personnal level.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2003

    Good Story

    Overall the book was pretty good. It took awhile to get interesting, but once it got there it held my interest/attention throughout. It also made me want to read some more books about the main character Kathy Mallory. I loved her story!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2003

    Compelling characters, a tale that makes you wait anxiously for the next book she writes.

    In each book the unfolding of Mallor's life intwines with a compelling new tale, complete in itself. The combination of characters, their interactions with her, with each other and with the drama unfolding around them is beautifully balanced. This was one of the best in her excellent series and I eagerly await the next tale, the new unfolding of the fascinating characters and of Mallor's past, her present and always, one wonders what the future holds for this beautiful, damaged yet noble woman.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2002

    One of the best yet!

    I'm so happy Carol O'Connell has written another Mallory story. The wait was excrutiating, but well worth it. Crime School was my second favorite in the series. It takes a while to write a really fine book like this one. I want to know more about Mallory and how she got to New York. I hope I don't have to wait so long for the next one. Buy this book. You won't be disappointed.

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