Friday, January 13, 2012
Series: Mallory #12
Author: Carol O'Connell
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (Penguin)
Pub. Date: January 17, 2012
I used to have a pretty hard and fast rule that I would not pick up anywhere in the middle of a series. But on a couple occasions I've picked up in the middle out of some type of necessity and found it isn't always so bad. And I was really interested when The Chalk Girl came to my attention, even though it's the 12th in the series! I am so happy I took a chance with this one because I loved this book and excited about reading future books in the series (as well as the first 11).
Kathy Mallory (better known just as "Mallory") is a detective in the Special Crimes Unit in New York City. Mallory is a hardened, rough around the edges girl with a crazy past. She grew up in the foster care system, and I'm sure there's a lot more back story in previous books, but I felt like I was given a lot of information in this installment. Some compare Mallory to Dragon Tattoo's Lisbeth Salander, but I think Mallory is much scarier and seemed more emotionally hardened. In The Chalk Girl, a little girl is found lost in Central Park. No one knows where she belongs since no one has filed a missing child report. The child seems different in some way, and no one knows what to make of her statements that her uncle turned into a tree. Surprisingly, the little girl attaches immediately to Mallory and through this connection they slowly unravel the mystery of the current situation as well as unearthing a long hidden crime.
The setting, the "special victims unit", and the complexity of the situation reminds me of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit which I love. The characters are different, of course, but I think otherwise that fans of the show would likely be fans of this book. I'm curious to learn more about the characters, although I will say that for this being the 12th book I wonder that Mallory's character hasn't grown more than she has. But then, I don't know where she started.
One interesting aspect of the writing was the way the author sometimes added in her own short commentary of sorts; the narration, overall, is the traditional third person past tense, but I noticed a sarcastic or facetious comment every now and then. Usually I would find this distracting, but it was amusing it its context. The Chalk Girl also tells two related stories... the main story is the one I've described, but the beginning of each chapter has a quote or paragraph from a different story. Those pieces in themselves were intriguing, albeit somewhat confusing, but the further you get in the book the more you realize the two stories are intertwined.
I have to apologize because it's been at least a few weeks since I read this so I'm not saying as much as I may have if I'd reviewed it then. But I do know that this story absorbed me and I'm excited to read more in the series!