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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Winter House

O'C0nnell, Carol. Winter House.

I love O'Connell's Mallory novels. I've not been as impressed by her stand-alones, but Kathleen Mallory is one of the most unusual protagonists I've ever encountered. O'Connell's minor characters Detective Sergeant Riker and Charles Butler are perfect foils for Mallory and each involves the reader in his own right.

When a burglar is killed by an old woman, the initial interest is because the house was the scene of horrific murders and a missing child nearly sixty years earlier. On second glance, however, it seems that the dead man was not actually a burglar, but a serial killer that Mallory and Riker had in their sights. And then the scissors with which he was stabbed were not the cause of death...

The original investigation expands, and as it does, the murder of a family and a missing child also begins to unravel.

Mallory--often referred to as a sociopath, so damaged by her terrible childhood that even the loving intervention of her adoptive parents can only partially redeem her-- has moments in this novel that indicate a bit of a sea-change. Her inability to communicate her feelings (and to comprehend the feelings of others) leads even those who love her to suspect her behavior, and Charles Butler actually stands up to her in this novel.

When I read the first Mallory novel years ago, I remember being confused at times because Mallory's background is dropped into the narrative little by little, and even in the first novel the back story (though incomplete and added to novel by novel) is so important. The character of Kathy Mallory is unique in crime and mystery fiction and well worth following book by book!

O'Connell's Mallory series ranks in my top ten mystery favorites.

Fiction. Crime/Mystery. 2004. 306 pages


  1. What a great review! I do have O'Connell's first Mallory novel and you know I started reading it a long time ago and had a hard time getting into it but saved it. I figured it was a timing thing. Your review makes me want to go dig it out to see what I'm missing :)

  2. Iliana - The novels are the kind that grow on you...especially as Mallory isn't the most lovable character! Riker and Charles Butler are great contrasts and much more endearing.

  3. Oh no - the last thing I should be doing is adding another series to my TBR list, but you've made this series sound too good to miss.

    Thanks (I think!)

  4. I read the first book in this series a few years ago and really enjoyed the character of Mallory. Your review reminded me to look for the next book in the series.

  5. SuziQ - :) Not everyone will like the Mallory series, but I find it fascinating!

    Cathy - O'Connell doesn't publish as frequently as some authors, but she is worth waiting for!

  6. What an interesting protagonist! I'll definitely have to look into this series. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Jenclair!

  7. LF - Mallory is unique in crime/mystery fiction. Try the series and see what you think!

  8. I'm adding this to my list as well!

  9. Danielle - I really enjoy the Mallory series!