cover image Stone Angel

Stone Angel

Carol O'Connell. Putnam Publishing Group, $24.95 (341pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14234-5

Here is a novel that grabs hold early and draws you all the way into a world of secrets, mysteries, murder, revenge and innocence lost. This is the world of computer whiz and New York cop Kathleen Mallory, introduced in Mallory's World and acclaimed last in Killing Critics. O'Connell's prose lifts ordinary passages into poetry and her deft, bold characterizations render even such minor characters memorable long after the last page is turned: mute sculptor Henry Roth; autistic savant Ira Wooley; the young deputy Lilith Beaudare. Mallory leaves the Big Apple to return to her enigmatic Southern beginnings. Seventeen years earlier, in the hamlet of Dayborn, La., the murder of a young woman, Cass Shelley, set off events that transformed her six-year-old daughter, Kathy, into the thief who, four years later, would be rescued from the New York streets by the cop who became her adoptive father. Returning to Dayborn like an avenging angel, Mallory is soon arrested for the murder of a local evangelist near her old house. As told from the point of view of her friend and dogged admirer Charles Baxter, this tale, tweaked one way, is a fine example of horror writing; tweaked another, its elements of gothic romance shine. But from any angle, O'Connell's latest is a stunningly original mystery sure to draw raves from Mallory fans and send droves of new readers scurrying to the series' earlier titles. (July)