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The Bullet

The Bullet

4.2 14
by Mary Louise Kelly

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Nothing is what it seems in NPR correspondent Mary Louise Kelly’s “riveting, twisty tale” (Hallie Ephron, author of Night Night, Sleep Tight), in which a woman discovers a decades-old bullet at the base of her neck.

Caroline Cashion is stunned when an MRI reveals that she has a bullet lodged near the base of her skull. It makes no sense:


Nothing is what it seems in NPR correspondent Mary Louise Kelly’s “riveting, twisty tale” (Hallie Ephron, author of Night Night, Sleep Tight), in which a woman discovers a decades-old bullet at the base of her neck.

Caroline Cashion is stunned when an MRI reveals that she has a bullet lodged near the base of her skull. It makes no sense: she has never been shot. She has no scar. When she confronts her parents, she learns the truth: she was adopted when she was three years old, after her real parents were murdered in cold blood. Caroline had been there the night of the attack, and she’d been hit by a single gunshot to the neck. Buried too deep among vital nerves and blood vessels, the surgeons had left it, and stitched up the traumatized little girl with the bullet still inside.

Now, thirty-four years later, Caroline returns to her hometown to learn whatever she can about who her parents were, and why they died. A cop who worked the case reveals that even after all these years, police still don’t have enough evidence to nail their suspect.

The bullet in Caroline’s neck could identify the murderer... and that person will do anything to keep it out of the law’s hands. Now Caroline will have to decide: run for her life, or stay and fight?

With non-stop action, “an extremely likable narrator and twists and turns galore” (Alice LaPlante, author of Turn of Mind), The Bullet will keep you riveted until the very last page.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 01/12/2015
Bacon can’t cure everything. That’s one of the lesser discoveries Caroline Cashion, a 37-year-old Georgetown University French literature professor, makes in this heady thriller from former NPR correspondent Kelly, her second novel after 2014’s Anonymous Sources. A life-changing revelation on her MRI—there’s a bullet she has no clue about lodged in her neck—launches the likable and normally unflappable academic, whom Jane Austen would have found a kindred spirit despite her Salma Hayek looks, into a distinctly uncharacteristic flurry of activity. She’s whisked back three decades to her childhood in Atlanta and a shocking, never-solved double homicide. En route, she finds romance with a sexy, country music–loving doctor, Will Zartman, who is so definitely not her type. Kelly pulls off the difficult feat of plotting an action-packed page-turner that remains within the bounds of believability. Agent: Victoria Skurnick, Levine-Greenberg-Rosten Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Like Kelly's first novel (Anonymous Sources, 2013, this sophomore effort centers on a beautiful woman who inadvertently becomes involved in a dangerous, high-stakes situation that soon becomes a matter of life or death. Caroline Cashion, 37, isn't drop-dead gorgeous—or at least that's what Kelly has her Georgetown professor tell readers on the opening page. However, a few short lines later, Caroline describes herself as having liquid chocolate eyes and hourglass hips. Men ogle her size DD breasts, and almost every man she meets makes a pass. Caroline is truly one hot chick. But she does have a problem that defies logic: a growing issue with her wrist leads to a series of tests that finds a bullet lodged in her neck. Increasingly drawn to Caroline, her doctor, Will, recommends that she have it removed, which in turn leads her on a journey to discover why the bullet was there in the first place. Soon the Nigella Lawson look-alike finds out that not only was she adopted, but her birth parents were murdered in their Atlanta home when she was a small child. During the as-yet-unsolved murder, Caroline took a bullet that also passed through her mother (a gorgeous woman she closely resembles). Hoping to find answers, Caroline travels to Atlanta, where she meets a cast of fancifully named characters and discovers the truth about the night she was shot. Kelly, a former NPR reporter, wallpapers the story with entertaining but overwrought dialogue ("I knew who you were. Any man under the age of ninety and still in full possession of his faculties would notice who you were") and a surfeit of extraneous characters who clutter the story, weighing it down and distracting from an otherwise interesting premise. Brilliant, beautiful Caroline's astonishingly bad decisions, coupled with her over-the-top reactions as events play out, make her a less-than-sympathetic protagonist in this unbalanced tale of love, perfidy and violence in Hotlanta.
Booklist Online
“Nonstop pacing, a touch of romance, and a heroine who’s full of surprises combine to create great thriller escapism for the Harlan Coben set.”
David Ignatius
"In Mary Louise Kelly’s entertaining new novel, a smart, sexy reporter wanders into the midst of a truly scary terrorist plot. In the manner of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Kelly’s heroine has to outfox the conspirators to escape. This book is great fun, from beginning to end."
Allison Leotta
"One of the most genuinely chilling plots I’ve ever read. A scenario that will haunt anyone who’s ever read a newspaper. I couldn’t put this book down."
Hallie Ephron
Praise for The Bullet

"Mary Louise Kelly’s The Bullet is right on target with a riveting, twisty tale of a woman whose search for her own identity leads her to seek vengeance against the killer who stole it from her."

Alice LaPlante
"With an extremely likable narrator and twists and turns galore, The Bullet is at once a thriller, a medical mystery, and a study of how well we really know the people we love."
Jamie Mason
"Mary Louise Kelly's The Bullet has an irresistible hook and a run of fantastic twists that pulls you breathlessly through to the last pages where all is revealed with a sure, steady hand. It's having your cake and closure too—and it's very satisfying. I'd kind of like a time machine so that I could have the wonderful premise of this book for my own!"
Valerie Plame
"The Bullet makes a direct hit. Written with style and intelligence, the clever plot gains velocity until the final page."

Product Details

Gallery Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Bullet


My name is Caroline Cashion, and I am the unlikely heroine of this story. Given all the violence to come, you were probably expecting someone different. A Lara Croft type. Young and gorgeous, sporting taut biceps and a thigh holster, right? Admit it.

Yes, all right, fine, I am pretty enough. I have long, dark hair and liquid, chocolate eyes and hourglass hips. I see the way men stare. But there’s no holster strapped to these thighs. For starters, I am thirty-seven years old. Not old, not yet, but old enough to know better.

Then there is the matter of how I spend my days. That would be in the library, studying the work of dead white men. I am an academic, a professor on Georgetown University’s Faculty of Languages and Linguistics. My specialty is nineteenth-century France: Balzac, Flaubert, Sten­dhal, Zola. The university is generous enough to fly me to Paris every year or so, but most of the time you’ll find me in the main campus library, glasses sliding down my nose, buried in old books. Every few hours I’ll stir, cross the quad to deliver a lecture, scold a student requesting extra time for an assignment—and then I return to my books. I read with my legs tucked beneath me, in a soft, blue armchair in a sunny corner of my office nook on the fourth floor. Most nights you will also find me there, sipping tea, typing away, grading papers. Are you getting a sense for the rhythm of my days? I lead as stodgy a life as you can imagine.

But it was by doing just this, by following this exact routine, that I came to schedule the medical appointment that changed everything.

For months, my wrist had hurt. It began as an occasional tingling. That changed to a sharp pain that shot down my fingers. The pain got worse and worse until my fingers turned so clumsy, my grip so weak, that I could barely carry my bags. My doctor diagnosed too much typing. Too much hunching over books. To be precise—I like to be ­precise—he diagnosed CTS. Carpal tunnel syndrome. He suggested wearing a wrist splint at night and elevating my keyboard. That helped, but not much.

And so it was that I found myself one morning in the waiting room of Washington Radiology Associates. I was scheduled for an MRI, to “rule out arthritis and get to the bottom of what’s going on,” as my doctor put it.

It was the morning of Wednesday, October 9. The morning it all began.

Meet the Author

Mary Louise Kelly has written two novels, The Bullet and Anonymous Sources, and spent two decades traveling the world as a reporter for NPR and the BBC. As an NPR correspondent covering the intelligence beat and the Pentagon, she has reported on wars, terrorism, and rising nuclear powers. A Georgia native, Kelly was educated at Harvard and at Cambridge University in England. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and their two children. Learn more at MaryLouiseKellyBooks.com.

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The Bullet 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
NotenoughtimetoreadBG More than 1 year ago
Excellent book - I always enjoyed Mary Kelly on NPR. This book was written very well and quick moving. I enjoy it and read it in a weekend. It kept me engrossed until the very end.
Tf1 More than 1 year ago
Looking for a bubble gum predictable book? This isn't it. What you believe to be simple is not. Good read.
Daco 24 days ago
This is the first book I've read by by Mary Louise Kelly. Her writing is crisp, fast paced, and enjoyable. I really felt that I knew the characters and was driven to keep turning the pages until the end. Plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Kelly deftly challenges the reader to answer unusual questions, like what would you do if you discovered a bullet in your neck? Would you seek answers, and would they be worth it if your life was completely changed? Highly recommended!
beckybh 12 months ago
COMPELLING SUSPENSE .... In THE BULLET, by Mary Louise Kelly, a 37-year-old Georgetown University professor has an MRI to discover why she has tingling and sharp pain in her wrist and finds out she has a bullet lodged in her neck. The problem is she doesn't remember how or when she received such an injury. There are no scars, no evidence that she'd ever been wounded. Thus begins Caroline Cashion's search for the truth about her life, who she is, and how she came to have a bullet in her body. That night she finds out from her family that she was adopted after her real parents were brutally murdered thirty-four years ago. She was shot in the attack, but the bullet was too close to important nerves and blood vessels, so the doctors decided to leave it in her body. Caroline travels to Atlanta, her original hometown, to try and find out what happened to her and her parents. She contacts a policeman who worked on the case and finds that the murderer still hasn't been identified. Though the main characters are fairly well developed, I didn't feel a lot of empathy for any of them. My perfect book is when I, as the reader, am transported into the story. Not only do I feel I'm part of the action, I know the characters inside and out. This didn't happen in THE BULLET. From the beginning, Caroline is telling you her story. Like you're a therapist and she's sharing her reason for needing your help. You don't feel particularly involved in the turn of events, but you still listen, as she's an compelling narrator with a fascinating story to tell. The story, told in first person, past tense, is full of interesting twists and turns that keep the reader riveted to the action. But as Caroline gets closer to the finish, the narrative bogs down a bit. Don't get me wrong. It's still an enjoyable story. And it has a good ending. So keep reading! If you like suspense stories with an unusual premise and filled with surprises, THE BULLET is a perfect novel for you. It's engrossing and gripping and is a wonderful book to read on a rainy day or while relaxing on vacation. If You Like This, You Might Like : TRACERS SERIES by Laura Griffin, FORGOTTEN FILES and THE MORGANS OF NASHVILLE series by Mary Burton, MAX REVERE NOVELS by Allison Brennan, ALL THE MISSING GIRLS by Megan Miranda, GOOD AS GONE by Amy Gentry, WITH MALICE by Eileen Cook * Read my other reviews on the Blue Moon Mystery Saloon blog. ** An e-galley was provided by Gallery Books and Edelweiss for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book is well-written, with an intriguing premise at the start, but the story takes a sharp turn in the last fourth of the book that results in a disappointing ending.
1dachsmom More than 1 year ago
THIS IS A MUST READ! HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Have now read both of her books and can't wait until the next one. Don't miss this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keep writing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave the book a rating of 3 but feel it should be a 2 star. The story line was good but at times the writing became too cutesy. The reason for the 2 star. It would have been better if the author had written it straight without attempting the insert of humor. The ending was interesting. That is what made it a 3 star.
reececo331 More than 1 year ago
The Bullet  by Mary Louise Kelly The Bullet is a dynamic modern mystery. A routine modern medical test will change the life of the reclusive French Literature Professor.  Her routine life, predictable and comfortable will be over turned as the mystery of her life comes to light. She is the lone survivor of a murderous assault to her biological parents. The hardest part to reconcile is that she may be carrying the last part of the evidence lodged in her neck. Will she find out the truth, and will her parents killers come to justice. The book is unpredictable in nature with developed characters and unpredictable twists and turns. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wordsandpeace More than 1 year ago
VERDICT: With an original plot and irresistible suspense, The Bullet pulls you into in-depth mystery territory: where do you come from? Who are you? Who can be trusted? Can you really know others to take revenge yourself? Great thriller inviting you to look at life differently. The synopsis of this book grabbed me –though incidentally I think it reveals too much. I’m glad I requested The Bullet. This was an amazing thriller that I had hard time putting down. Caroline, 37, teaches French literature. Bothered for several months by some weird pains in a wrist, she finally goes for an MRI. There, they discover she actually has a bullet in her neck. She is totally shocked, as she has no memory of having been shot. When she tells her parents, they act weird. Little by little she learns more about her past, how the bullet got there. But who really shot that bullet? Not too much helped by the police, she decides to uncover the whole story and track the killer herself. But if he learns she is still alive, wouldn’t he want to track her himself? Be ready for a great ride. I enjoyed how the author treated the theme of the unknown: unknown about others, about your own close family, your own past, and your own personality even. This gave great unusual depth to this thriller. You think you know what you are capable of. Then one day you discover that, quite literally, you are not the person you thought you were. I also liked how the plot went from mystery to mystery. Meeting each new character, I tried to guess which one could have been the killer, and why. Of course I failed, which is always a proof that this is a well-built mystery! The suspense is increased by the story going in between Washington and Atlanta, and even Europe. There is of course the theme of family: who is your real family? Your biological parents? Strangers who took care of you? And in the background is suffering: inner suffering as you discover where you are coming from, but also physical pain and all the possible threats to the body: if you keep a bullet in your neck, you can suffer from lead poisoning, but the surgery can also leave you handicapped. What are you going to do, especially when you know that the bullet may help identify the killer even if it happened 30 years before. There’s even an element of romance, if that’s your thing.
christalvp More than 1 year ago
I loved the first 85% of this novel so much that the end of it wasn't enough to lower my rating, although I thought it really started to fall apart at that point. I was disappointed in that last 15 percent, and was not at all satisfied with the conclusion. However, the rest of the book, I found completely thrilling. The main character, Caroline Cashion, was great during this major portion of the story, and I really felt for all she was going through. I cannot begin to imagine how it would be to discover such things about yourself at that age. I really enjoyed her relationship with her family, and I was touched by how close she was to her parents and brothers. The storyline was so compelling, and it kept me on the edge of my seat.  At age 37, Professor Caroline Cashion is suffering from wrist pain believed by her doctor to be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. When she can get no relief from the pain, an MRI is ordered and shockingly shows what appears to be a bullet lodged next to her skull. An X-ray confirms that there is actually a bullet there, and Caroline is sent reeling, as she had no idea she'd ever been shot. When she confronts her parents, a story that is almost unbelievable to her comes out. Caroline was adopted as a three year old after the murder of her parents, at which time she was also shot and left for dead. As Caroline tries to wrap her mind around the truth of her past, she also has to make decisions about the bullet that seems to have shifted in its dangerous location. Caroline travels from her home in Washington, D.C. to where she spent her early childhood in Atlanta, in order to find as much information as possible about her past and her parents. The shocking things she discovers will have enormous impact on Caroline and her future. This book was so good for most of the story. Caroline and her family were wonderful characters, and I even felt a connection to and some sympathy for Will Zartman, Carline's doctor. I was so sorry to see the book start to go off the rails near the end, and then never find the way back on track. I struggled with my rating since I was so disappointed by the last part, but until then, I was certain that it was going to go to the top spot of my favorite books of the year so far. This is a book that I will not forget, so I made the decision to go with 5 stars, even though the book has issues. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author spent more time trying to convince the reader that the protagonist was beautiful that it distracted from the story.