Carol O'Connell Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Carol O’Connell’s first novel, Mallory’s Oracle (1994), was very well received by readers and reviewers, lauded as a completely new mystery with an original character, and nominated for an Edgar Award. The novel brings in elements of many genres, crossing the police procedural and the cozy mystery with a bit of contemporary intrigue and a gothic air. Mallory’s Oracle reinvents the mystery genre, partly by creating a character who is almost too dysfunctional not to be real. The plot has many twists and turns, drawing disparate events or random details together and weaving them into a complex story line that moves toward an inevitable but unpredictable conclusion.

Kathy Mallory is an innovative main character, engaging and perplexing at the same time; this causes the reader to wonder about her, trying to divine what is going through her head or why she did something. Her character, even as the series progresses and more of her background is revealed, remains an enigma. Therefore, O’Connell’s novels featuring Mallory are always compelling and fresh, the last one as gripping as the first.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Dubose, Martha Hailey. Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists. New York: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2000. A look at female mystery writers from Mary Roberts Rinehart to cozy writers such as Agatha Christie to modern writers such as Sue Grafton. Brief biography of O’Connell gives a sense of how her works differ from those of her contemporaries and earlier female mystery writers.

Gaughan, Thomas. Review of Find Me, by Carol O’Connell. Booklist 103, no. 4 (October 15, 2006): 32. Reviewer finds the work to be “dense, demanding, and very powerful,” although he found that some of the subplots did not work as well.

Lindsay, Elizabeth Blakesley, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers. 2d ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007. Discusses O’Connell’s work and her life and their interactions.

O’Connell, Carol. “The Booklist Interview.” Interview by Emily Melton. Booklist 94, no. 16 (April 15, 1998): 1370-1371. Interview discusses how O’Connell developed her character and how she prepares for writing.

Shindler, Dorman T. “Mallory’s True Oracle: An Interview with Carol O’Connell.” The Armchair Detective 28, no. 4 (1995): 440-443. Discussion with the author of the primary character and how she came to be published.

Smith, Julia Llewellyn. “Prime Time for a Crime Writer.” The Times, May 11, 1994. Background on the author including an interview, details of her life, and her perspectives on writing.