>> Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Mallory's Oracle by Carol O'Connell
Series: #1 in the Kathleen Mallory series
Publisher: G.P Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: 1994
The Short Version:
Kathleen Mallory was rescued from the streets as a child by a kindly police officer and his wife but now finds herself investigating her adopted father's murder.
Why I Read It:
I originally heard about this series from Jenclair at A Garden Carried in a Pocket about three years ago. For a gazillion reasons I had never got around to actually starting the series but when the latest book in the series (The Chalk Girl) came out earlier this year I decided it was time to start this series.
Kathleen Mallory was a tough and troubled street kid when she was picked up by a kindly police officer. Louis Markowitz and his wife Helen raised the tough and nails child who some described as a ‘baby sociopath’. Her criminal instincts were only swayed by her foster mother and her moral compass became not doing anything that would make Helen Markowitz cry. Now an adult working in the computer crime section of the NYPD, Mallory is determined to find out who murdered Markowitz.
Markowitz was killed while investigating a series of murders of wealthy older women. Mallory is put on leave by the Police Department but is determined to continue her adoptive father’s investigation and to seek vengeance for his brutal murder. His partner Riker is a somewhat unwilling accomplice in her effort as is another friend of Markowitz, Gerald Butler. Butler is a genius business consultant who harbors an affection for Mallory despite her apparent lack of emotional connection with any living person.
The clues lead Mallory on a twisting trail through the past as well as the present to find out what Markowitz had learned and why it got him killed.
Kathleen Mallory (don’t call her Kathy or Kathleen – just Mallory) is far from a likeable heroine. She’s often emotionless and robotic, yet has a deep affection for the people who raised her after rescuing her from the streets. She’s not an experienced street cop but is instead a computer guru who works better with machines than with people.
Determined to find out who killed Markowitz she recruits Butler (partly to use his place of business and get him a private investigators license to use for her own investigation). I had a bit of a tough time going along with Butler’s attraction fo Mallory. She’s so emotionless it doesn’t quite ring true to me but I let that go and just enjoyed the story.
Mallory is tough, impulsive and resistant to being ‘managed’. In some ways she reminded me of a variation on JD Robb’s Eve Dallas character but without Eve’s soft edges and romance storyline of those books. This one is a dark gritty crime fiction story with some pretty brutal scenes. The interweaving of the present day investigation, Mallory’s history and the other past events that play into the resolution of the story are interesting and well done.
Despite being a bit of an unsympathetic character, I find Kathleen Mallory fascinating. Her two ‘partners’ in Riker and Butler provide some balance in the story. Obviously as the first in a series there’s a lof of it that is setting up of the history. I’m eager to see where the second in the series takes off from what I considered to be a strong start.