cover image Man Cast Two Shadows

Man Cast Two Shadows

Carol O'Connell. Putnam Publishing Group, $23.95 (278pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14064-8

O'Connell's second novel (after Mallory's Oracle) brings back NYPD Sergeant Kathy Mallory, plunging this tough-minded yet soulful heroine into another convoluted case. When a woman killed in Central Park is mistakenly identified as Mallory, the former street urchin and computer whiz sets herself up as bait by moving into the apartment building that houses her three main suspects. Using a computer and the building's electronic bulletin board to psych out the killer, she stirs up more than she bargained for--including someone who wants her dead. Other elements in the intelligent plot include a crime of passion, a suspenseful cat-and-mouse game and a boy who may be telekinetic and whose stepmothers keep dying. The dialogue is crisp, the prose supple, but the overall tone is dour, sometimes, in fact, mournful. Not enough of the story is told from Mallory's point of view, however, and O'Connell tends to evoke her mysterious behavior through description rather than through action. As a result, Mallory--who with her bitter youth, street smarts and rough edges carries echoes of Andrew Vachss's Burke--remains an enigma, a major absence at the center of the plot. BOMC and QPB selection. (June)