O’Connell, Carol. The Man Who Cast Two Shadows.

NY: Berkley, 1995.

Sgt. Mallory of the NYPD is back, suspended from duty (she shot the gun out of a perp’s hand rather than aiming at the wide part of the body, per regulations) and temporarily teamed up with Charles, who is . . . well, not her friend, exactly. Mallory doesn’t really have friends, or even coworkers.

(As one of her peers notes with a sigh, she tends to be her own police department.) Charles, a near-genius with an eidetic memory, investigates special talents and finds work (often with the government) for those who possess them. But then a woman is killed in Central Park and the first detective on the scene finds Mallory’s name-tag in the victim’s blazer and assumes it’s her – the cop. Mallory takes the misidentification personally and sets out to solve the murder. And everyone else had just better get out of her way. Because Mallory doesn’t approach a homicide investigation with any consideration of justice for the victim, or upholding the law for the sake of society, or anything like that. To her, murder is a game — the “best game,” as she once told her foster father, the late Superintendent Markowitz. The cops she works with describe her as a savage, with a killer’s eyes. She’s just not entirely, recognizably, human. In any case, several of the possible suspects are scum-suckers in their own right, so Mallory decides to bring them all down. And she can do it, too, and without causing a massive lawsuit for the city.

Meanwhile, Charles is dealing with a young boy suspected by his parents of engaging in dangerous psychokinetic pranks. Is it a paranormal ability? Or just skillful stage magic? Charles has a family background in professional sleight-of-hand himself, as it happens. And the two plots will gradually blend, of course.

Mallory is a fascinating character, but in this second volume the author tends to overdo it. She is apparently so amoral, so sociopathic, so casually violence-prone, so lacking in even basic empathy, she not only frightens civilians, she terrifies experienced, hard-nosed cops. She can make vicious dogs turn and flee with a glance. Carried to such extremes, her personality is not only right on the edge of being comic-bookish, it’s impossible to imagine that she ever passed the basic psychological qualifications to enter the police academy, even with intervention by her pseudo-friends. Anyway. The dialogue and descriptions and supporting cast all are highly original and the book is, over all, a lot of fun to read (in a dark sort of way). I just hope the author can control herself in the next episode.

Published in: on 3 January 2013 at 6:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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