Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mallory's Oracle

By Carol O'Connell

Kathy Mallory was a street kid who was adopted by a compassionate policeman and his wife. They did their best to instill values into the girl but she never fully recovered from the hard life of her early years. Yet, despite her criminal tendencies, Mallory chose a career in law enforcement. Due to her excellence with computers and hacking, she worked behind the scenes, she didn't go on patrol or on investigations. But when her adoptive father is murdered while he is investigating a series of killings, Mallory sets out to take over her father's investigation and track down his killer. She has been given compassionate leave from her work for the police force so her investigation is done without police authorization or approval. She teams up with a friend of her father's, Charles Butler, and together they try to understand how an experienced cop like her father could let a suspect get the best of him. Their investigation is oddly tangled up in the building where Charles lives and the ring of rich elderly women who have been and are the potential victims of a serial killer. Also involved is psychic, an insider-trading scheme, and an elderly cousin of Charles' who seems harmless but who is hiding an treacherous heart. Danger abounds but Mallory believes her criminal instincts and her intellectual prowess will keep her from the same fate that overtook her father. However, her inexperience just may be her Achilles heel.

In this story, Mallory is portrayed as cold, emotionless and duplicitous. She doesn't weep for her murdered father. It makes it kind of hard to really identify with the main character. The plot has lots of red herrings, what with the insider trading and the vicious psychic, Charles' weird relatives, the odd tenants of the apartment building, and the wealthy victims' heirs. It is so convoluted it was hard for me to follow what was going on, just too much to keep track of. Also, so many of the characters in this story are strange, twisted people, including the main character, Mallory. It was like visiting a side show at the carnival, sordid and distasteful. It was a weird story and I can't say that I really enjoyed reading it.

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