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Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Chalk Girl by Carol O'Connell

The Chalk Girl   is O'Connell's most recent Mallory novel.  Mallory, a NY detective is an unusual and intriguing character, and I've read most (if not all) of these novels.

Mallory, cold, manipulative, and distant, is never-the-less loved by many of the series' more sympathetic recurring characters:  Charles Butler, the genius with a clown-like appearance; Riker, the tough old cop and Mallory's partner; and the various endearing members of her adoptive father's weekly poker game. 

From Amazon's Book Description of Chalk Girl:

"The eight-year-old girl appeared in New York’s Central Park one day: red-haired, blue-eyed, dirty-faced, smiling widely. She looked perfect, like a porcelain fairy—except for the blood on her shoulders. It fell from the sky, she told the police. It happened while she was looking for her Uncle Red, who had turned into a tree. Right, they thought, poor child. And then they found the body in the tree." 

The little girl whose distinctive features and behaviors are indicative of Williams Syndrome is a witness that Charles Butler wants to protect and Mallory intends to use to gain information.  Unfamiliar with Williams Syndrome, I had to do some research to get a clearer picture.  Briefly, these children have elfin features and "an unusually cheerful demeanor and ease with strangers; developmental delay coupled with strong language skills; and cardiovascular problems, such as supravalvular aortic stenosis and transient hypercalcaemia."

As usual with the Mallory novels, the murders are a bit bizarre, but it is the characters that keep me returning to the series.  This is the 10th Mallory novel, and I've been reading them for at least 15 years.  The series begins with Mallory's Oracle, but I don't remember is that was the first one I read, and it isn't really necessary to read them in order.

These novels are definitely not cozy mysteries: the bad guys are scary, sinister, and very dangerous.  In point of fact, Mallory is both scary and dangerous, but altogether an original.

Fiction.  Crime/Mystery.  2012.  528 pages.


  1. Sounds like a really interesting series. I've known several children with Williams Syndrome over the years.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book Jenclaire. Different but interesting!

  3. Teresa - It is a good series, a bit dark, but fascinating. I suppose your work with children has you familiar with many syndromes that are unfamiliar to me. Never having heard of the syndrome before, I found the research into these children quite interesting!

    Sherri - The Mallory series does feature a unique protagonist! I hope O'Connell will continue this series for a long time.

  4. Off topic: I thought of you when I made an exciting find at our former town's library sale. I got a copy of The Man Who Never Was (about Operation Mincemeat). It's very good -- nice and short, just the facts but I thought they were presented well.

  5. Thanks for sharing, Nancy! I'll have to check this one out!