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Publisher's Summary

Night had fallen, and the woman looked down at the crumpled letter, as if, in absolute darkness, she could read the postscript: only a monster can play this game.

In Chicago, an FBI agent is killed in a psychiatrist's waiting room. In New York, the jurors from a controversial trial are murdered one by one. The only connections between the two: a flamboyant shock-jock, whose on-air comments seem to be taking him dangerously close to the edge; and a woman, her body misshapen since childhood, whose job it is to clean up crime scenes, and maybe create them as well. This is a federal case, and Mallory's been told that the FBI wants no part of her. But she knows something nobody else does, and besides, when has she ever cared what anyone else wanted?

©2003 Carol O'Connell (P)2003 Listen & Live Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"[Bresnahan] wisely opts for a straightforward approach, presenting the book's lengthy descriptive passages in a clear, crisp manner and defining the cast of eccentric characters with subtle vocal shifts. The result is compelling, smartly paced entertainment, as focused and coolly efficient as its affect-less heroine." (Publishers Weekly) "O'Connell has raised the standard for psychological thrillers." (Chicago Tribune)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Carol
  • Memphis, TN, USA
  • 11-01-06

Peculiar book

There is no doubt that the author, Carol O'Connell, is well read and writes with a distinctive flair and with great ability. This is one of the reasons I gave a 3 star rating. However, I do wonder what she smokes just before she writes, as she certainly marches to a different drummer!

If you are looking for a suspenseful, entertaining book - this isn't it. From the get-go, everybody, including the cat, hates not only themselves, but everybody else. There is not one brief respite from this ongoing tirade of everybody hating everybody else. Each conversation is emotionally charged with venon.

This is not a murder mystery by any stretch of the imagination. It is about people with dark and hidden poison within their souls. All of them. But, as I said earlier, the redeeming grace is that the author writes well, even if there are times you want to eject the CD and throw it out the window.

I continued to listen to this book and with every CD I changed, I swore I'd not listen to the end. And yet, I did. Mallory, while I assume was the protagonist (ha!) in the story, was an awful person. The narrator, Alyssa Bresnahan, better not quit her day job. Her reading is awful. Everyone, man and woman alike, she lowered her voice and sounded like an animal, ready to jump out and attack you. I really had to get past her reading to try to keep with the story.

However, what I discovered beneath the heated and hateful conversations, the warped and messed up emotions, the twisted minds of all the players, was a love story. Really. The bottom line and the barely noticeable thread throughout the story, was a search for love. Here was a book I actually hated - and yet, I cried in the end. If you want to know why I cried, you'll just have to listen to the book - bad narrator and all.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Nancy
  • Guinda, CA, USA
  • 02-02-07

Highly recommended

The Mallory series of mystery books by Carol O'Connell is definitely an acquired taste. I have read all of them and always look forward with great anticipation to each new installment. For some reason, however, when I read this book the first time, I just couldn't get into it and put it down after a few chapters. When I saw it was available in audio format I decided to try it again and I'm so glad I did. I became thoroughly engrossed in the story and really enjoyed the reading. I would recommend it to any Kathy Mallory fan.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Gimmee a Break!

Despite an excess of characters, there isn't even one normal person in the book. There was one possible, but then you have to ask the question: What's wrong with him that he hangs out with all these whackos? The protagonist is the worst; I can't believe anyone could care about her, or what she does, or why. The flaccid and obscure preamble should have warned me. No one does anything remotely believable from start to finish.

Audio: The reader has a brittle voice and speaks so slowly it curls your fingers, and makes it worse by adding mountains of pointless -- and very long -- pauses. And the more boring the passage, the more she draws it out.

Spare yourself.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Debora
  • Ventura, CA, USA
  • 06-26-07


This author is unbelievable. Her characters are exciting and unexpectedly intelligent and very likable. I love her books.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Barb
  • Navarre, OH, United States
  • 03-26-07

Is Mallory the villain or the heroine?

While I enjoyed the story, I had a very difficult time deciding who I was supposed to "like" among the characters. Kathy Mallory is not your typical heroine. In fact I did not like her at all. I really identified more with the character of Jo, at least she seemed to have some human feelings. Since I had not read any Mallory books before, I even found myself wondering if there was any possibility that SHE (Mallory) could be the reaper.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good as all Mallory novels are

Very good-interesting and keeps the listener wondering! 4 + stars!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Good story, fast moving

This book was fast moving with lots of turns and twists. Personally didn't care for the ending but understand it. Love the Mallory and the depth of her character, well done and insightful.

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  • Performance
  • Story

I recommend

Would you listen to Dead Famous again? Why?

Probably not. I Usually do not listen to stories I've already heard. A very good story though.

What did you like best about this story?

Dr. Apollo. She was a calculated as Mallory. Refreshing to have Mallory, even if her role is secondary, play her part in the background. The story would not be the same without Riker. You also learn his first name in the story.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Second Time around

Would you listen to Dead Famous again? Why?

I just did listen to Dead Famous again. I have listened to several of Carol O'Connell's novels twice. There are so many twist and turns to these stories, you might miss some the first time. I often enjoy them again, and again.

What other book might you compare Dead Famous to and why?

Any of Carol O'Connell's other novels.

What does Alyssa Bresnahan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The courage to give unique and trademark voices to each individuals so that you know who is speaking without being told.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Make me cry in the end. Not out of sadness, but out of surprise and warmth.

Any additional comments?

Read and Re-read all of these novels.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Couldn't finish this one.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Probably nothing. It's dark in a way that I find unappealing.

Would you ever listen to anything by Carol O'Connell again?


Would you listen to another book narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan?

I have done in the past.

What character would you cut from Dead Famous?

I didn't find any of them likeable.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful