Cover image for Shell game
Shell game
O'Connell, Carol, 1947-
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Rockland, MA : Wheeler Pub., [2001]

Physical Description:
547 pages ; 24 cm.
Geographic Term:
Format :


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X Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print

On Order



On live television a re-creation of a legendary magic trick goes horribly awry -- a terrible accident, everyone agrees. But two people know it is not. One is an aged magician in a private hospital in the northern corner of New York state. What a worthy performance, he thinks, murdering a man while a million people watch.The other is Kathleen Mallory. Once a feral child, loose on the city streets, she is now a New York City policewoman and not much changed: a tall young woman with green eyes and a ferocious inner compass of right and wrong. For her, the death is too dramatic, too showy, and she is convinced that there will be another one -- this killer loves spectacle. But even she cannot predict the spectacular chain of events that has already been set in motion, or the profoundly disturbing consequences it will have for those she holds most dear. For misdirection is the heart of magic. The lady never really gets sawn in half, does she?So why is there so much blood?

Author Notes

Author Carol O'Connell was born in 1947. She attended the California Institute or Arts/Chouinard and Arizona State University, where she studied art. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a freelance proofreader and copy editor as well as occasionally selling her paintings. At the age of 46, she wrote the first book in the Kathleen Mallory series and sold it to a British publisher. Her title The Chalk Girl made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Aging magician Oliver Tree dies tragically when his flashiest magic trick goes awry in front of a national television audience. The cops declare Tree's death accidental, but NYPD Detective Kathy Mallory thinks otherwise. She's determined to prove Oliver was murdered, but to do so, she must seek clues in a tragic love story with roots back to World War II. She must also confront Malakhai, a supremely gifted magician whose astonishing powers of illusion almost make a believer of the coldly skeptical Mallory. In Malakhai and the terrible conspiracy of secrets and lies from the past, Mallory almost meets her match. As those who've read previous O'Connell books know, Kathy Mallory's own near-mystical power to root out and destroy evil is considerable, but that power comes at a cost: this is a cold, cruel, remorseless, emotionless woman. And yet, in this story, O'Connell shows us a Mallory who, briefly, becomes a vulnerable human being. Once again, O'Connell has woven a rich, complex, memorable tale that will keep readers guessing and gasping through scenes filled with love, heartbreak, betrayal, and remorse. Another superb effort from one of our most gifted writers. --Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

O'Connell (Judas Child) deftly demonstrates her own sleight of hand as she recounts NYPD detective Kathleen Mallory's investigation of the "accidental" death of magician Oliver TreeÄwho died while trying to recreate on live TV the late Max Candle's most famous trick, in which a man survives the fire of four crossbows. As Mallory capitalizes on her friendship with Candle's beloved cousin, Charles Butler, to delve into a WW II mystery involving a group of elderly magicians, all colleagues of Candle and Tree, hints of Mallory's inner life begin to emerge. Once a street kid, the coldly efficient detective comprehends better than most the soul-deadening choices these men made to survive during the war and the cycle of repentance and retribution that have set a deadly game in motion. Mallory is drawn in by the seductive Malakhai, a master of misdirection who is always accompanied by the illusion of his long-dead wife, Louisa. While the detective, in search of answers, uses her high-tech skills to manipulate data banks and to amass information, Charles Butler is in his basement, trying to put together Max's great trick. Meanwhile, the stalwart Sergeant Riker, Mallory's unofficial guardian and staunch defender, is on call. O'Connell adroitly entwines the excitement of Manhattan's Thanksgiving Day parade with the world of illusion and the anguish of war. Her tough realism and hypnotic prose will leave readers eager for more. Author tour. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When a magic trick ends in a spectacular death on live television, everyone thinks that it's an accidentÄexcept a retired magician who's watching from a private hospital and Kathleen Mallory, back in another thriller. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.