Love mystery audiobooks? If your idea of the perfect female detective is someone like Kinsey Millhone of the Sue Grafton series or VI Warshawski from Sara Paretsky, don’t read Carol O’Connell’s Mallory books. If, however, you are seeking a mysterious, intriguingly distant, calculatingly cold yet brilliant female detective, you need to meet Kathy Mallory.
I began reading O’Connell’s work with Mallory’s Oracle. Kathy Mallory, simply known as “Mallory” by friends and acquaintances alike, is unlike any detective you’ve read. If I had to compare her to any character, I suppose I would have to say the television character of “House” is the most similar.
Antisocial, cold as ice, and incredibly brilliant, you might think Mallory is too aloof to be appealing. But you’d be wrong.
Over the course of nine novels, Mallory’s history is gradually revealed. Taken in by NY police detective Lou Markowitz when she was abandoned at age ten, readers are treated to tidbits of her past little by little.
Other significant participants in Mallory’s life are Detective Sergeant Riker, who is amused by her unconventional behavior, and Charles Butler, a brilliant psychologist who is in love with her.
Mallory’s physical description isn’t what you might expect. Green, cold eyes, pale skin, and long red fingernails might not sound tough, but on Mallory they are. You won’t read about her stumbling onto the bad guys or becoming a damsel in distress. She puts others in distress.
Begin with Mallory’s Oracle, the first of the series, in which Mallory must solve a very personal homicide that leads her into a dangerous investigation. Next is The Man Who Cast Two Shadows, a case that finds a murdered woman wearing a jacket with a label bearing Mallory’s name.
O’Connell’s stand alone books, the most recent of which is Bone by Bone, are also incredible. She breaks the standard format of the mystery novel and creates haunting, unpredictable characters and situations.
I’m not sure why O’Connell is not more widely known. Her Mallory novels and stand alone mysteries are tightly plotted and extremely engaging. Try one and you may, like me, find that you simply must own them all.