Cover image for Crime school
Crime school
O'Connell, Carol, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, [2002]

Physical Description:
341 pages ; 24 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
Newstead Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Collins Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Eden Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Elma Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Grand Island Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Hamburg Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Lackawanna Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Lancaster Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Marilla Free Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Orchard Park Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Anna M. Reinstein Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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Over the course of six novels, Carol O'Connell has become one of our most acclaimed writers of suspense. Her heroine, Kathy Mallory, is "stunningly unique" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). "O'Connell conjures up a world of almost Faulkerian richness and complexity," said People, and the Chicago Tribunewrote simply, "O'Connell has raised the standard for psychological thrillers." A wild child turned New York City policewoman, Mallory was adopted off the streets as a small girl. Very little has ever really been known about what happened to her back then, how she lived-but the past is about to come alive. Crime Schoolbegins with the discovery of a woman found hanging in a burning apartment, tufts of her own blond hair stuck in her mouth and red candles scattered all around. Immediately, Mallory knows several things. The fire was set so the woman would be discovered. The crime is identical to another one twenty years old. And she knows this woman. She is a prostitute named Sparrow, who took her in all those many years ago, and then betrayed her. There is unfinished business between Mallory and Sparrow, and the quest to settle it will send her spinning back to a time of secrets and desperation, and into the mind of a criminal whose work has only just begun.

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

Kathy Mallory, NYPD detective, makes other contemporary women detectives look anemic. Mallory is effortlessly tough, genuinely gritty, unreflective in an unnerving way. She has a horrific past, as a throwaway child scrambling for a living among New York's whores and dopers, which seems only to have toughened her. Part of the complexity of this series is that O'Connell leaves in all the rough edges that a life on the streets would produce, refusing to gloss over, or glorify, the debilitating psychological effects of deprivation and trauma. Mallory can be dense; she can be a pain; she is fully human. In the seventh entry in this acclaimed series, Mallory, of the Special Crimes Unit, comes face to face with her past when she and her partner are called to a crime scene in which a call girl has been ritualistically murdered. The call girl, Sparrow, offered Mallory protection when she was a child but later betrayed her. Before Mallory has time to call up her knowledge of Sparrow's past in finding the killer, she and her partner are thrown into a morass of spree killings on the streets of New York. O'Connell's crime-scene investigation techniques ring true, her plotting is breathtaking, and her psychology acute. Searing suspense. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this seventh gripping entry in O'Connell's popular Mallory series, Special Crimes investigator Kathy Mallory again prowls the mean streets of New York, digging deeper into her past even as she and her cohorts ferret out a grisly serial killer. Each novel in the series reveals a little more about the utterly improbable and compellingly mythic life story of its protagonist, a tough cop and computer ace raised by hookers on the streets of New York. In this installment, Mallory's particular mentor, the prostitute Sparrow, is found partially scalped, hanging in a room decorated with jars of dead flies an M.O. that recalls a murderer from decades ago. The grim murder plot is offset by a cast of cartoony characters, ranging from series regular Charles Butler, Mallory's gentle giant best friend, to the rookie yellow-haired detective Ronald Deluthe, aka Duck Boy. O'Connell illuminates these oddballs with her lightly whimsical prose: "When Charles closed his tired eyes, he saw a tiny thief who ran with whores and lived by guile, surviving on animal instinct to get through the night an altogether admirable child." The side puzzle, a bibliomystery involving a series of pulp Westerns that obsessed Mallory as a girl, almost steals the show when it is solved. This novel is gritty, streetwise, funny and sure to bring in more fans for the still-enigmatic Mallory. (Sept. 16) Forecast: O'Connell's quirky series may not have hit bestseller lists yet, but solid sales attest to its loyal reader base. The long spell between the publication of the previous installment (Shell Game, 1999) and this one means diehard fans will be extra eager for their fix, and an author tour should recruit new readers. 60,000 first printing. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Mallory's back! That's all O'Connell's many fans will need to hear before they grab this novel off the shelf. O'Connell's singular detective (Mallory's Oracle) has always treaded a fine line between heroine and psychopath. In this installment, more is revealed about how the always intelligent, always scary Kathy Mallory got that way. A serial killer's modus operandi involving stalking, hanging, and dead flies hits Mallory and her partner hard when one of the victims is a former prostitute who used to read Mallory bedtime stories when she was a homeless wild child. O'Connell neatly pairs the two story lines of Mallory's mysterious past and her current investigation even as she heightens the tension by alternating passages from the next victim's point of view. O'Connell delivers all the best parts of suspense fiction - plot twists, chilling details, and a rapid pace - while simultaneously delving into the psyche of her protagonists. She displays not only the dark horrors of the criminal mind but also what lurks in the hearts of those who try to protect us. Public libraries should buy multiple copies for their Mallory fans. - Devon Thomas, Hass MS&L, Ann Arbor, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Prologue high in the sky, apartment windows were smudges of grimy yellow, and this passed for starlight in New York City. Loud Latin rhythms from a car radio drifted down First Avenue. The sedan turned sharply, brakes screaming, narrowly missing a small blond girl with fugitive eyes. The child stood on tiptoe, poised for flight, arms rising like thin white wings. A book was knocked from the hands of a woman on the sidewalk as the little girl sped past her in a breeze of flying hair and churning legs, small feet slapping pavement in time to the music of a passing boom box-a rock 'n' roll getaway. The eyes of the running child were not green, not Kathy's eyes, yet the startled woman saw her as a familiar wraith rocketing through space and years of time. Fifteen years, you fool. And Kathy Mallory was not so small anymore, nor was she dead-not the makings of a ghost. Sweat rolled down Sparrow's face. If not for the stolen book, would her mind have made that stumble? Again, the woman looked back the way she had come, but there was no sign of the man who had followed her from the bookshop. She had circled round and round, taking the long way home to lose him, and he had not hurried his steps to keep up with her. He had moved with inexorable resolve to the measured beat of a march. His body had no language, no life. If a dead man could walk. Sparrow's hands were clammy, a sign of anxiety, but she blamed it on the weather, so hot and muggy in this gray hour after sundown. And she blamed her costume for the stares from other pedestrians. The mutton-sleeve blouse and long skirt were too bizarre for a twenty-first-century heat wave. A match flared close beside her as a man, a harmless type, lit a cigarette, then passed her by. Her heart beat faster, and she rationalized away the second warning, taking it for guilt. If not for the book- She looked down at her empty hands and panicked-then sighed. The precious paperback lay on the sidewalk at her feet, and she bent low to snatch it back. On the rise, another figure, quiet as smoke, moved alongside her in the half-dozen mirrors of a drugstore window. She could still be surprised by these chance encounters with herself, for the surgically altered face needed no makeup to cover a history of broken bones and ravaged skin. The blue eyes of her reflection looked back across a gap of seventeen years, fresh off a Greyhound bus from the Southland. Sparrow nodded. "I remember you, girl." What an unholy haunted night. She hid the book behind her back, as if a tattered novel might be worth stealing. In fact, she planned to burn it. But the book was not what the stalking man wanted. Sparrow looked uptown and down. He would be so easy to spot in this crowd of normal humans. Apparently, she had lost him at some turn of a corner. Yet every inch of her prickled, as though a thousand tiny insects crept about beneath her skin. She hurried homeward, not looking back anymore, but only paying attention to a voice inside her head. Fear was a good old friend of hers, who broke into her thoughts to say, Hello, and then, Ain't it gettin' dark? And now, Run, girl! One greenwich village had lost its edge long ago, becoming a stately old lady among New York neighborhoods. One of the grande dame's children stood beneath the great stone arch in Washington Square Park. The boy wore trendy camouflage pants, all dressed up for a revolution-should one come along the way buses do. A guitar case lay at his feet, open to donations from passersby, though no one slowed down to drop him a dime. People marched past, sweating and cursing the heat of August, hurrying home to cold beers and canned music. It would take spectacle on a grander scale to get their attention tonight. An unmarked police car crawled by in air-conditioned silence. Detective Sergeant Riker rolled down the passenger window and listened to a ripple of melancholy notes on soft nylon strings. Not what he had expected. Evidently, the teenage musician had missed the point of being young. Thirty-five years ago, Riker had been the boy beneath the arch, but his own guitar had been strung with steel, electrified and amplified, ripping out music to make people manic, forcing them to dance down the sidewalk. What a rush. And the entire universe had revolved around him. He had sold that electric guitar to buy a ring for a girl he had loved more than rock 'n' roll. The marriage had ended, and the music had also deserted him. The window closed. The car rolled on. Kathy Mallory took the wheel for every tour of duty, but not by choice. Torn between drinking and driving, her partner had allowed his license to expire. The detectives were nearing the end of their shift, and Riker guessed that Mallory had plans for the evening. She was wearing her formal running shoes, black ones to match the silk T-shirt and jeans. The sleeves of her white linen blazer were rolled back, and this was her only concession to the heat. If asked to describe the youngest detective on the squad, he would bypass the obvious things, the creamy skin of a natural blonde and the very unnatural eyes; he would say, "Mallory doesn't sweat." And she had other deviations. Riker's cell phone beeped. He pulled it out to exchange a few words with another man across town, then folded it into his pocket. "No dinner tonight. A homicide cop on First Avenue and Ninth wants a consult." The jam of civilian cars thinned out, and Mallory put on speed. Riker felt the car tilt when it turned the corner, rushing into the faster stream of northbound traffic. She sent the vehicle hurtling toward the rear end of a yellow cab that quickly slid out of the lane-her lane now. Other drivers edged off, dropping back and away, not sporting enough to risk sudden impact. She never used the portable turret light or the siren, for cops got no respect in this town-but sheer terror worked every time. Riker leaned toward her, keeping his cool as he said, "I don't wanna die tonight." Mallory turned her face to his. The long slants of her green eyes glittered, thieving eerie light from the dashboard, and her smile suggested that he could jump if he liked. And so a nervous game began, for she was watching traffic only in peripheral vision. He put up his hands in a show of surrender, and she turned her eyes back to the road. Riker held a silent conversation with the late Louis Markowitz, a ghost he carried around in his heart as balm for anxious moments like this one. It was almost a prayer, and it always began with Lou, you bastard. Fifteen years had passed since Kathy Mallory had roamed the streets as a child. Being homeless was damned hard work, and running the tired little girl to ground had been the job of Riker's old friend, Louis Markowitz, but only as a hobby. Lost children had never been the province of Special Crimes Unit, not while they lived. And they would have to die under unusual circumstances to merit a professional interest. So Kathy had become the little blond fox of an after-hours hunt. The game had begun with these words, spoken so casually: "Oh, Riker? If she draws on you, don't kill her. Her gun is plastic, it fires pellets-and she's only nine or ten years old." After her capture, the child had rolled back her thin shoulders, drawn herself up to her full height of nothing, and insisted that she was twelve years old. What a liar-and what great dignity; Lou Markowitz could have crushed her with a laugh. Instead, with endless patience, he had negotiated her down to eleven years of age, and the foster-care paperwork had begun with this more believable lie. Now Kathy Mallory's other name was Markowitz's Daughter. The old man had been killed in the line of duty, and Riker missed him every day. Lou's foster child was taller now, five ten; she had upgraded her plastic gun to a .357 revolver; and her partner was not allowed to call her Kathy anymore. The homicide detectives were speeding toward a crime scene that belonged to another man. The East Side lieutenant had sweetened his invitation with a bet, giving odds of "Ten'll get you twenty" that they had never seen a murder quite like this one. --from Crime School: A Mallory Novel by Carol O'Connell, Copyright © 2002, G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission. Excerpted from Crime School by Carol O'Connell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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