All I ask of this genre of fiction is entertainment. Perhaps Carol O'Connell's depiction of New York City's particular "brand" of crime and murder (and all its elements: victims/detectives/police/characters (central and peripheral)/chance-passers-by/location/language/etc.) can only be fully appreciated by New Yorkers. In fact, I doubt if anyone can completely get her novels if they aren't a New Yorker, in some shape or fashion (e.g. from any borough, time/duration/East- or West-Side/Up- or Down-town, bred and born, temporary or fleeing:-). New York City is a central character in the series, Stone Angel included via contrast. Riker is always priceless as are the ghosts of Mallory's foster father and mother, Louis and Helen Markowitz. Red herrings abound, cleverly done. Mallory, herself, is a well crafted, modern, anti-hero. From the beginning of Mallory's Oracle through Stone Angel to Find Me, she is better than any other such character I've encountered. I adore O'Connell for creating her. I cried at the end of Find Me as I realized Mallory had truly run her road and I couldn't imagine O'Connell having anywhere else for Mallory to go that wasn't anticlimactic. Judas Child is excellent as is Bone by Bone (testaments to the author's craft) but how can there ever be another Mallory? Brava, Ms. O'Connell! Ignore all critiques to the contrary. Please find your way to continuing to entertain us. "We" need you.
Stone Angel by Carol O'Connell is the fourth in her Kathy Mallory mystery series and one of her strongest books yet.
At the end of book three, NYPD detective Kathy Mallory fled NYC without telling a soul and leaving her job and friends behind. Friend Charles Butler sees a newspaper photograph of a stone angel grave marker that looks like just Mallory. He travels to the bayou town of Dayborn, Louisiana to investigate. Mallory's partner, Detective Riker, is not far behind. Not only does Charles find Mallory, but she's being held in jail as a material witness to a murder. When Mallory was seven, her mother was stoned to death by a mob of 27 townspeople. The crime remains unsolved and not one person has ever been charged. Butler and Riker suspect that Mallory has returned to her hometown to seek revenge.
The characters in Stone Angel would make Tennessee Williams proud. They include an autistic savant, an evangelist tent preacher, a mute sculptor, and an eccentric woman who is letting her mansion crumble around her to become a bird sanctuary. As with any southern-style novel, there are lots of secrets, gossip and high drama as well as a dash of alcohol and good food. We learn more about Mallory's past in the first chapter than in the first three books combined. She is determined to solve this seventeen year old crime despite a wall of silence.
Two aspects of Stone Angel kept me from giving it five stars. First, O'Connell's characters are just a little too over the top (especially regular Charles Butler). But I forgive O'Connell this fault because her writing is so good. Second, this is the third mystery that I've read recently where the main character (cop or private eye) goes back to investigate the unsolved murder of their mother. I encountered the same theme with Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch series) and James Lee Burke (Dave Robicheaux series). Despite these faults, I still really enjoy O'Connell and the Mallory series.
After reading the previous three books in this series, I'm afraid this story was a bit of a disappointment but maybe that's because I hold O'Connell to too high a standard and certainly any Mallory book is well worth reading. However, I found some of the town's characters to be a little far fetched not to mention stereotypical and the mystery surrounding Mallory's youthful years which ended on the streets of NYC had a few holes (so much was made of Mallory only having this telephone number and we never found out who it belonged to although we know it was a female and can assume it was Augusta and why didn't her mother just tell her to run to either of their closest neighbors since surely Augusta or the scupltor would have helped?, etc.). The resolution to this story was not as crisp as all the others and I felt that so much more could have been done with the revelation of Mallory's past; but don't get me wrong, the murder mystery of both past and present was well crafted.
Mallory is at her best in this book and is edging closer and closer to the woman that Helen knew she could be. Beautifully written with carefully crafted characters with several mysteries to be solved and an ah ha ending. Loved it!!!!
Mallory finally finds her home and returns to avenge her murdered mother. At the end of the last book you worried Mallory was breaking ties with Charles but as we and Charles discover she simply had another case to solve. Ryker is a morning this one, trying to put Mallory in the sociopath box and continue to use her to solve e crimes. They all come to realize they need Mallory more than shredders.
This book, more than others in the series, gives us a clue as to what makes Mallory tick. She is forced to return to her hometown to solve the murder of her mother. This is a very different Mallory, in a vastly different environment than the one in which she is comfortable. This is southern horror flavored with Mallory's own unique brand of policework. If you've read any of the Mallory series by Carol O'Connell, go back and read this one before you continue.
Really liked this one! I have read a few of the Mallory books and really enjoyed this one because the characters were engaging, some of the dialogue was really funny, the plot was good, and I learned more about Mallory and why she is the way she is. I think Carol O'Connell is an excellent writer--reading this on a cramped plane to Denver made the flight much more bearable!