Wednesday, June 3, 2009

FIND ME by Carol O'Connell

I'm not an expert on any given genre of fiction, let alone crime thrillers, but it just doesn't get much better than Carol O'Connell's Kathy Mallory novels. Mallory (because no one dares call her "Kathy") is a child criminal turned NYPD detective of the coldest, most calculating, enigmatic type. Only through her strange and often one-sided relationships with the people who love her (despite everything) do we get a peek at a tiny sliver of her inner workings.

FIND ME may be the best Mallory novel yet. This time around, Mallory is broken-- more broken than she naturally is. Her systems are falling apart, her guard is down, and she is far from home-- tracing two paths: the path of a piece of her past and the path of a prolific and gruesome serial child killer. Both roads lead her down Route 66.

The compelling foil to both of her goals is a caravan of parents of missing children, pulled together by an online psychotherapist of questionable character, tracing the same route seeking both their lost children and publicity for their sometimes decades-old cases. As the caravan grows from dozens to hundreds, the serial killer follows, and as the body count grows so too grows their hope that they're closer to finding out what happened to their kids.

Of course, Mallory is followed into this quest by the two men who love her most, her partner Riker and her... friend?... Charles Butler. But this time it's not because they care; it's because they want to get to the bottom of a death back in NYC. A death that occurred in Mallory's apartment, on the same day that she left town.

O'Connell's effortless omnicient point of view slides you into the minds of at least a dozen characters, major and minor. Getting to know the pschology behind these characters adds to the overall suspense and confusion (in a good way).

I devoured the book in two days. With the Mallory series it helps to start at the beginning but that's not by any means necessary. Dive right in with this one.

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