Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Review of "The Chalk Girl" [82]

The Chalk Girl: A Mallory Novel by Carol O'Connell
Putnam Adult, ISBN 978-0399157745
January 17, 2012

“The little girl appeared in Central Park: red-haired, blue eyed, smiling, perfect- except for the blood on her shoulder. It fell from the sky, she said, while she was looking for her uncle, who turned into a tree. Poor child, people thought. And then they found the body in the tree.”

If you have an issue with rats, you may want to steel yourself. A beautiful summer day in New York City, and an elderly teacher is leading a group of day campers through Central Park. But as she stops to do a head count, she notices there is one child too many. A sweet elfin looking little girl, with blood on clothes, going on about the rats and her uncle in the tree, has attached herself to the group. But will get worse. Suddenly the park is swarming with rats, seemingly drugged, crazed rats, the teacher has a stroke , falls to the ground and... well, how to say eaten. Well, the rats did not get to finish her before animal control turned up.
Gosh, if the beginning of this book does not get your attention, you must be dead. Wow!

It turns out there is a man in a tree, strung up while he was still alive, in the Ramble, left to die. But he is not the little girl's uncle. No, he is a very bad man, a bad man who has done bad things in the past, starting more than 15 years ago when he was in school. He was not alone in his evil deeds then and he will not be alone in his horrible death now.
But it seems it is time for payback and it is up to NYPD Detective Kathy Mallory and her partner Riker to protect the little girl who is their only witness and stop any more bodies from showing up in the trees.

This is the tenth book in the Mallory series, which does seem daunting if you have not read any of them. But I will say that I have only read a couple of them but had no trouble following this book. Mallory is a fascinating character, with a childhood that has resulted in making her a very unique adult and if you are not familiar with her and her 'group', you are going to have to pay attention and put the clues together. But if you reading a mystery, I assume you like clues!
This is a complex story, with a lot of characters...more than a few more rats.. and a story that reached back decades, but I think O'Connell is so skilled as a writer that the attentive reader will have no problem. Coco, the little red headed girl is a fabulous character. She suffers from something called Williams Syndrome, which results in her distinctive appearance as well as giving her a unique musical talent..and maybe her also unique ability to find a place in Mallory's heart, the rarest thing of all. How even knew she had a heart? But fans, fear not. Mallory will not be going all soft on us. No, she is as strange and brilliant and as unorthodox as always and deals with it all in a very Mallory like way.

This all comes to a conclusion with an excellent ending. Even when you think you have it figured out, there will be a few unexpected twists that will wrap it all up in a quite satisfactory way. Although I must say, it is hard to beat that beginning!

My thanks to the publisher and Library Thing Early Reviewers for a review copy of this book.


  1. I laughed when I read....."If you have an issue with rats" who doesn't enjoy a good rat from time to time? LOL

    Seriously, I'm happy I got to read your thoughts on this one, as I've enjoyed this author in the past.

  2. This sounds kind of eueueueu to me, with the rats and all! :--)

  3. I love Mallory, I am so glad finding her roots hasnt smoothed out her sociopath personality

  4. Oh my gosh, the beginning of that book sounds like a nightmare! I'm very intrigued. I've never read this author, but it sounds like I need to.

  5. I will say, the beginning will get your attention!

  6. sounds great. and of course i love redheaded characters :-)

  7. As Charlie Brown would say, "oh, rats!" I have this one and now I'm not too sure I want to read it with all the nasty vermin. Just gives me the creeps thinking about it. I've only read one O'Connell book and did like it. Toss up - forget about it or steel myself before reading. Thanks for the warning!!

  8. Seriously? Eaten by rats? Oh, I think I gotta read that. Sometimes I feel like such a ghoul! LOL

    This series is on my list for next year. I've determined that 2012 will be the "year of the series" for me. Haven't read any yet, but am looking forward to it.


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