Author: Carol O’Connell
Published: In paperback 2003 by Arrow Books
Fifteen years have passed since a junkie whore and police informer, known simply as Sparrow, cared for a feral child when she was lost and alone. Now, on a hot August afternoon, in an East Side apartment, a woman is found hanged. Carefully placed red candles and an enormous quantity of dead flies suggest a bizarre ritual.
I was supplied with a copy of the book through Bookbridgr in return for an honest review.
This is the 6th book in the Kathy Mallory series. I had enough background from previous books, although I haven’t read them all, not to be left floundering. Mallory is an enigma, a child of the streets who survived on her wits and was looked after by hookers. She is damaged emotionally, unable or unwilling to allow herself to trust anyone. She was adopted by NYPD Detective Louis Markowitz and his wife Helen and became very close to them both. Since their deaths the people closest to her are Detective Riker, Markowitz’s former partner, now Mallory’s and her business partner and friend, Charles Butler, who worships her.
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.”
This story unravels more of Mallory’s complicated and dubious past when a serial killer strikes. One of the victims is Sparrow, a whore who held a special place in the young Kathy’s heart until, as Kathy saw it, Sparrow betrayed her. They never spoke again. Now Mallory has to confront her demons as the investigation progresses. Twenty years ago a similar murder occurred but due to bad policing the murderer was never caught. But what bearing does that have on the present murders? Is the connection Mallory herself?
A very grim, grisly and complex murder plot with very graphic descriptions, sometimes too much so. Mallory is definitely a unique protagonist, someone who could conceivably be dangerous, and is now in the homicide division of the NYPD. Tough and intimidating, she takes no prisoners and can be very cruel and insensitive. Towards the end there is a slight glimmer, are emotions beginning to tap on the hard shell surrounding Mallory? A character development of sorts is long overdue for Mallory. How much longer can she continue to be so cold, contained and manipulative towards the those who care for her. Surely she has been shown enough kindness and love since the Markowitz’s adopted her to merit even a small crack in her armour.
I found the writing distracting and a little awkward in parts, not quite as I remember. It was a long time ago though, and maybe I should have caught up with previous books before embarking on this one.