The Chalk Girl by Carol O’Connell
The Chalk Girl is the tenth book in Carol O’Connell’s Kathleen Mallory series. So it should come as no surprise that this review will probably have spoilers for previous books in the series. If, like me, you haven’t read the previous books in the series, you can jump in with this book without too much trouble.
The book begins with a lovely day in Central Park, following a group of visiting school children and their teacher. An odd, red haired little girl slips in with the group, but she certainly doesn’t belong there, and there’s blood all over her shirt . . .
The girl tells police that the blood fell from the sky, that she is here in the park with her uncle, but that he turned into a tree. The mystery deepens when the body of a man is found, wrapped up like a Christmas present and hung from a tree.
Enter Detective Kathleen Mallory, former street urchin and pickpocket, foster daughter of a police inspector, and all around cold hard bitch. Mallory and her partner have been assigned to the little girl’s case, and as more bodies in trees begin to pop up in Central Park, Mallory must use her considerable detective skills to find out what connection a strange little girl has with these gruesome murders.
This is a dark, twisted mystery novel. Think Jeffery Deaver’s The Bone Collector or the books by J.K. Rowling’s alter ego: Robert Galbraith. The plot twists and turns through the back alleys of the worst of human nature. Weaving together dark family secrets, police corruption, and tortured pasts, O’Connell has provided us with a compelling story. Mallory as a character is fairly unlikeable; she’s rude, misanthropic, and more than a bit sociopathic, yet O’Connell makes you want to root for her (and can I say, I do enjoy a female antihero, they’re so rare).
So I would say that if you’ve read the Mallory books up to this point, you’ll certainly want to continue the series with this book. If you haven’t read the series, this is still a great story, and it will likely make you (like me) want to go back and start the series from book one.
A copy of this book was provided for review via Goodreads Giveaways. The Chalk Girl is currently available for purchase.