Carol O’Connell, Flight of the Stone Angel


Carol O’Connell is a little less known than she deserves. Her books feature Mallory, a damaged, maverick New York police detective. She is one of a handful of recent novelists that have refreshed and added to the scope of the genre. This novel is brings together mysteries about Mallory’s past and features an appreciation by Scottish psychological crime novelist Val McDermid.

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This book is one of a series of books by Carol O’Connell about a beautiful, damaged, maverick, and almost sociopathic detective named Kathleen Mallory (who insists on being called simply “Mallory”) and the people that love her despite her flaws: Charles, an intelligent, rich, but ugly family friend; Lou, the cop that takes her in; and Riker, her adopted father’s partner. The relationships that develop between these characters as they solve crimes together are the focus of the series. This story (the third in the series), has Mallory investigating a murder which has links to a case that her adoptive father, Lou, worked on years previously. Another interesting and touching story in the series.

Carol O’ Connell came to prominence with her first novel, Mallory’s Oracle (1994) which received rave reviews and blurbs from the likes of James Patterson, Jonathan Kellerman and Richard North Patterson. Kate Mallory is an orphan, a child thief that is adopted by Inspector Louis Markowitz and becomes a crimes analyst for the New York Police Department. Regarded as vulnerable by her superiors she takes to the streets to avenge her her stepfather who is slain at the beginning of the book. We soon learn, however, that the deceptively beautiful and chic Mallory is also street-wise and cunning. What O’Connell then begins to open up is Mallory’s reactions to different situations, beginning with all the personal baggage, then her ongoing reactions to cold, clinical policing rules and forensics science; and her main characters inclination to be a street-fighter in the tradition of the private eye. Finally, Carol O’Connell novels are exceptional portrayals of different aspects of New York life and culture – the mix is the perception are stand out.

With Flight of the Stone Angel (the fourth Mallory published in 1997) we are plunged into the orphan Mallory’s past. The novel brings together the three previous books backstory. As Beki says in her review of Stone Angel, “it is as good as fiction gets”. Go to Goodreads and just see how many readers gave this book 5 stars! Acclaimed Scottish crime writer and critic Val McDermid provides the Appreciation. This is one of 85 numbered and signed copies.

5.00 out of 5

3 reviews for Carol O’Connell, Flight of the Stone Angel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rating by Heidi on Goodreads on May 21, 2012 :

    “This is my favorite mystery ever. Carol O’Connell’s “Mallory” series is excellent, and this is the best of the bunch, the one in which the deeply-flawed but irrepressibly-appealing Kathy takes on new depths and we get a deeper understanding of her personal history. However, since it is the fourth in the series, start at the beginning and work your way up to this one. Yes, the mystery is self-contained enough to stand alone, but much of the beauty of this book is the fact that, having puzzled over the wonder that is Mallory through the first three novels (all set in NYC, where she is a homicide detective), following her to her Louisiana birthplace and learning her backstory is like an epiphany. It would be a shame to cheat yourself of that great “ah ha!” moment by not taking the time to build the suspense”. Heidi on Goodreads

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rating by Beki on Goodreads on May 21, 2012 :

    “The perfect culmination to Mallory’s backstory. In a sublimely-paced evolution of character — both in terms of emotional damage and internal complexity — O’Connell caps her trilogy of MALLORY’S ORACLE, THE MAN WHO CAST TWO SHADOWS and KILLING CRITICS with a “final chapter” both rich in its own complex identity and profound with revelations about the origin and futures of her over-reaching cast.

    While this book does not mark the end of Mallory’s journey as a whole, it is an incredibly satisfying resolution to the stepped progression Mallory’s past and the mystery of her mother’s fate — so much so that, taken as the capstone of a trilogy-plus-one sequence rather than simply on its own merits as a stand-alone, STONE ANGEL succeeds in a way no single novel can.

    This is the best of all the Mallory (not O’Connell) novels (later novels included), but unlike the others, it does not stand alone. While the plot itself does open and resolve within the span of pages from cover to cover, the lion’s share of STONE ANGEL’s more profound content predicates itself on the previous three books, drafting off the momentum of their emotional complexity and deep inter-character dynamics to deliver its own knock-out punches with a power that requires time and distance to achieve.

    STONE ANGEL is the payoff to a long-term investment. Without the appropriate foundation beneath it, the novel is very good but not great: a showcase for O’Connell’s lyrical use of language, incredibly rich characters, and unexpectedly riotous sense of dark humor. With the appropriate foundation (MALLORY’S ORACLE, THE MAN WHO CAST TWO SHADOWS, KILLING CRITICS … in that order) however? STONE ANGEL is as good as fiction gets”. Beki on Goodreads

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rating by Val McDermid on May 21, 2012 :

    Extract from the appreciation by Val McDermid

    “It’s seldom that reviewers of crime fiction make a unanimous judgement. But when Carol O’Connell unleashed New York cop Kathy Mallory on an unsuspecting world in Mallory’s Oracle, there was total agreement. There had never been a fictional detective like Mallory. With her ‘uncivilised green eyes’, her shower of golden hair and trademark tailored blazer, jeans and spotless trainers, she looked like no-one else. With her symbiotic relationship with computers, her complete disregard of conventional morality and her blazing desire for her vision of justice, she acted like no-one else. It wasn’t hard to imagine Mallory leaping tall buildings with one mightly bound. Women wanted to be her; men wanted to make sure she never bought the house next door. Refreshing, remarkable, and remorseless, Mallory seemed to come from nowhere, like Athena springing fully armed from the head of Zeus. Nothing in the annals of crime fiction seemed to have paved the way for so exotic a creature. She was no more a sister of V.I.Warshawski than she was a daughter of Miss Marple. For me, though, there is a connection that resonates throughout my reading of the Mallory canon. It Mallory has roots, they are not in the conventional literate world but spring from the same soil as the darkly romantic comic book pages of vintage Batman as realised by the Gothic pen of artist Bob Kane and later in the superb and outrageous films of Tim Burton. There are interesting parallels; in both cases, a police authority figure struggles and fails to keep the maverick crime fighter within the conventional limits; both confront larger than life criminals; both work their idiosyncratic beat against the backdrop of a broodingly atmospheric city where psychosis walks hand in hand with sight-seeing. With Flight of the Stone Angel, Mallory’s fourth outing, we are plunged into the heart of her previously hidden past, learning that the orphaned Mallory, like Bruce Wayne, is drawn to crime fighting after witnessing the traumatic murder of a parent…”.

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