Blind Sight—a Mallory novel (#12), Carol O'Connell (G.P. Putnam's Sons, Sept. 2016)
Cover price: $27
Synopsis: A blind child and a Catholic nun disappear from a city sidewalk in plain sight of onlookers. There, then gone—vanished in seconds. Those who witnessed the event still cannot believe it happened.
It was all too real. Detective Kathy Mallory and the NYPD’s Special Crimes Unit enter the investigation when the nun’s body is found with three other corpses in varying stages of decomposition left on the lawn of Gracie Mansion, home to the mayor of New York City. Sister Michael was the last to die. The child, Jonah Quill, is still missing.
Like Jonah, the police are blind. Unknown to them, he is with a stone killer, and though he has unexpected resources of his own, his would-be saviors have no suspect, no useful evidence, and no clue — except for Detective Mallory’s suspicions of things not said and her penchant for getting to the truth beneath lies. Behind her back, the squad’s name for her is Mallory the Machine, yet she has a dark understanding of what it is to be human. A child is waiting, time is running out, and atop her list of liars is the mayor himself…and a theory of the crimes in which no sane cop could believe.
*Starred review from Kirkus.
Even on her worst days, Carol O'Connell is an exceptional writer. She's a master at creating tension and twists. The characters she's created in and around Kathleen Mallory are compelling, flawed, and captivating. Unlike her other books, the mystery here is not who is killing people, but to what end?
O'Connell very clearly lays out who the bad, smarmy characters are and easily lets you figure out who's behind the killings. Less clear is the ever dangling "brilliant," "fail proof" plan behind the killings. O'Connell, via Mallory, spells it out at the end but like everything else in this novel it feels rather superficial.
Mallory and her companions felt like caricatures of their earlier incarnations with constant reminders of their key characteristics: Riker's frumpy suits, love of alcohol, and suicidal leanings or Janos, the quiet spoken "gorilla," who could break a man in half if he wasn't so nice; Lt. Coffey the young, jaded captain with thinning hair.... The rest of the supporting cast came off equally flat or stereotyped, even Mallory, who acted more like a petulant child than the single-minded, sociopathic, truth-fighting machine we've come to admire. And for those interested in the Charles Butler character, just know that he doesn't play a huge role in this story. His character shows up about 1/3rd of the way through the book and is relegated to small, predictable scenes.
Even though the returning characters felt flat, the story of Jonah (the blind child) and Iggy (his captor) was compelling and kept me reading. In fact, I finished this book in a day and a half. I just wish all of the characters had as much depth in this story as she gave to these two.
Honestly, this book felt more like a carrier—something to get us to the next book (or books). Something in which O'Connell could start dropping hints of things to come. Of particular interest:
- A flashback conversation between Lou Markowitz (Mallory's foster father) and his then partner Riker: "Lou Markowitz had known that his kid would surely die young. While sitting side by side on bar stools late one night, the man had said to Riker, 'When it happens, don't hold it against her. It won't be her fault.'"
- A flash-forward moment of a 90-year old Charles remembering Mallory
- A moment when Mallory returned to Iggy's house thought she heard the footstep of a ghost, before her logic explained it away.
- And an epilogue, of sorts, in which we flash-forward & the author guides us through Mallory's sterile apartment pointing out clues to Mallory's humanity.
Is it possible that O'Connell is preparing us for the inevitable? Will she kill Mallory?
I know a lot of people felt as if her last 2 novels were just eh, and that this book marks O'Connell's return to Mallory—I'm just not sure. I will be very curious to see where the next book goes.
Take away: The book is definitely worth a read, just don't expect deep backstory.
3.5 stars / out of 5
Labels: 2016, a Mallory Novel, Blind Sight, book review, Carol O'Connell, mystery