Detective Kathy Mallory has been benched by the brass at the NYPD after she returns from a mysterious and unexplained three-month odyssey across the United State in a car. When a little girl is reported missing in a Central Park that has quickly become the scene of multiple murders, Mallory is able to finagle herself onto the case with the help of friend and psychiatrist Charles Butler. The girl, once found, is brilliant and troubled, and Mallory feels a special connection because of her own miserable past. Butler, however, suspects that she is putting the girl’s safety low on her list of priorities, motivated only by solving the crimes before her.
I’d heard much about Kathy Mallory before picking up one of these books, and I can see why. She is billed as a stunning combination of brains, beauty and crazy- going to extremes to save her case and without many outward displays of empathy or even humanity. Speculating on where Mallory had been in the missing months, and why, became a bit of a pastime for me. I liked the way O’Connell simultaneously explains some of Mallory’s past even while delving into a complicated case that spanned several decades and included greed, and complicated motivations on the parts of the suspects and the police.
The Chalk Girl is an engaging mystery. It’s riddled with wry observations and dark humor. It works well as a standalone but will certainly send you delving into Mallory’s previous exploits. Recommended.