cover image The Chalk Girl

The Chalk Girl

Carol O’Connell. Putnam, $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-399-15774-5

Near the start of bestseller O’Connell outstanding 10th novel featuring New York City cop Kathy Mallory (after 2006’s Find Me), the enigmatic Mallory, despite having been declared mentally unfit to return to duty following an unexplained three month long absence, nonchalantly reclaims her desk in the Special Crimes Unit. Nobody questions “Mallory the Machine,” especially after she connects with a savantlike child found wandering alone in Central Park. Eight-year-old Coco has witnessed a kidnapping and murder, but the girl is incapable of describing the killer. The murder of Coco’s uncle is one of three similar crimes that Mallory begins to suspect are linked to a couple of cold cases as well as to pervasive corruption among the city’s elite. O’Connell’s awesome ability to weave a taut, complex plot works with Mallory’s equally awesome detective skills as she unearths each crystalline facet of crimes both past and present. Author tour. (Jan.)