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by Carol O'Connell
Berkley, September 2004
336 pages
ISBN: 0425197972

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Kathy Mallory is a detective with the New York City police, a unique woman who lives by her own rules and who has very little use for most of the people around her. One exception is her former partner, Riker, who has been on leave from the police after being shot four times by a young man.

Riker is now running a crime scene cleaning service owned by his brother and showing no signs of interest in returning to his former post, in spite of the fact that Mallory keeps pushing him to complete the paperwork to hasten his return. Mallory is protective of Riker, and one of the crime scene cleaners that works for him arouses her suspicion. The woman is a hunchback, and it looks like Riker has more than a professional interest in her.

Mallory discovers that the woman is named Johanna Apollo and that she has misrepresented herself. In fact, she may have a connection to a gruesome series of murders of members of a jury from a controversial trial which took place in Chicago. The verdict had been so unpopular that three of them had been killed within the Chicago city limits. Another died while under FBI protection, and so on. Only three of them remained alive and at large. An out-of-control disc jockey by the name of Ian Zachary is running a contest to hunt the jury members down so that he can pinpoint their whereabouts on the air. And once he does so, the killer, known as The Reaper, carries things to their unnatural end.

This seventh book in the series is unique in that it is told more from the point of view of Riker than of Mallory, a device which works very well. O'Connell exhibits a deft hand at creating interesting and complex characters, each carrying their own personal load of baggage. The hunchback Johanna Apollo is extremely clever and stands up well next to Mallory. There are several secondary characters who leap right off the page as well.

But this strongly-written work was diminished by a very artificial means of disposing of some of the characters quickly. It felt as if O'Connell just wanted to end the book, and set up a scene that was completely ludicrous in the way that it wrapped up some of the threads of the narrative. That was followed by a final scene that was sheer perfection.

O'Connell is a superb writer who has once again crafted a complex work peopled with characters of enormous range.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, July 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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