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Mallory’s Oracle

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

MALLORY’S ORACLE begins by introducing a policewoman always known as Mallory, a computer genius who spends most of her working hours solving crimes by raiding other computer systems. When her adoptive father, a highly ranked police officer, is found dead, along with the body of a wealthy woman, Mallory leaves her computer terminal and takes to the streets.

It immediately becomes obvious that the murder is only the latest in a series of killings. The killer has used similar methods, and all of the victims have been wealthy old women from the Grammercy Park area of New York. As the story unfolds, Mallory finds apparent connections involving spiritualism, huge sums of money, and computer raiding. There are several suspects, including the heirs of the first two women murdered, who seemed to have the most to gain from the murders.

The characters in MALLORY’S ORACLE are often intriguing. Redwing, the medium who seems to be connected in some way to all the murders, conducts extremely convincing seances, assisted by a silent little boy who appears to be drugged. Margot Siddon, the heiress of the last victim, is clearly insane and dangerous, although she is never suspected by Mallory of any of the murders. Most interesting of all is Mallory herself, originally a wild street child adopted by a police officer, now a pitiless, almost fanatically methodical young woman.

MALLORY’S ORACLE is a tightly drawn, suspenseful novel. There is some highly graphic violence in a few scenes, but most of the action is intellectual; there are three major characters who show genius in their own, very different ways. This is a book that is difficult to put down.