At first glance, the story of a dead man in an old New York mansion seems pretty straightforward, an open and shut case. A burglar, interrupted in his work, finds himself on the wrong end of a pair of scissors, leaving the two ladies who live in the mansion shaken, but unharmed. However, once the detectives assigned to the case begin to look deeper, they find that not all is as it seems. For one, the “burglar” was actually a hired killer. For another, he was murdered with an ice pick rather than a pair of scissors, and for a third, the lady that killed him just might be the very same woman that he was supposed to kill himself – a woman who disappeared years ago when she was twelve, after her entire family had been slaughtered. The weapon of choice? An ice pick. Just who is Nedda Winter? What is she hiding? And what really happened all those years ago, when she disappeared after her family was brutally murdered? Detective Kathleen Mallory is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, no matter what the eventual answer might end up costing her.
I picked this one up on a whim, figuring that even if it was a bust, it wouldn’t hurt anything. I was a little wary when I saw “A Mallory Novel” printed at the top, because I was afraid that there would be too much backstory that I would miss jumping in at the middle. However, I found that this was not the case. It took me a little while to get into the story, but once I did I really enjoyed it. For whatever reason I did not see the big twist, but I called most of the smaller ones. I really liked that the main character is a total sociopath, and that the novel didn’t focus only on her, but branched out to include both of her partners. In a way, she kind of reminds me of a female Sherlock Holmes, in that she is a sociopathic investigator who really has no compunction about breaking the law and/or being very threatening to get the information she needs. For Mallory, the obsession is in knowing exactly what happened, but as a cop she has the added need to bring those who commit crimes to justice…not for any deep emotional reason but because she has to know. I love how wholly unsympathetic she is, and I kind of hope that subsequent novels (for yes, I will be reading them) don’t begin to paint her as acquiring the humanity that she ripped out of her makeup a long time ago, because I really do find the idea of someone forcing themselves to lose their basic empathy in order to function fascinating, and I don’t want her to regain it. I feel it would be cheap. However, if it does go that way I do hope that O’Connell can make me believe it.