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.