Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. Feel free to grab the button and join in!
This week’s Frightful Friday book is The Chalk Girl by Carol O’Connell:
- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Putnam Adult (January 17, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 0399157743
- Source: Publisher
School children on a school field trip to Central Park come across a young girl. She’s bright-eyed, red-headed and appears to be okay other than the blood on her shoulders. She dismisses this, stating that it fell from the sky when she was looking for her uncle, who had turned into a tree. It isn’t until later that police, including Special Crimes Detective Mallory, begin finding bodies hanging from trees.
Mallory has just recently returned to the force after a three-month “leave.” She feels a close bond with the little girl, Coco, due to their similar history. Mallory, too, was a “found” child, fostered by a police detective, spurring her interest in law enforcement. Due to her childhood, she’s quick to form bonds with others with attachment disorders. It’s not long before they learn that Coco has a disorder called Williams syndrome, giving her a fairy-like appearance and the desire to form close attachments with complete strangers. The man she refers to as her uncle isn’t her uncle at all, but a man who abducted her after her grandmother passed away.
The discover of Coco uncovers murders spanning back nearly two decades and a series of deep secrets kept hidden thanks to good, old-fashioned blackmail. The serial killer responsible for the current crimes is referred to as The Hunger Artists, for all of his victims are found close to death due to starvation.
The Chalk Girl is a multi-faceted thriller. Not only is it an investigation of a serious set of crimes, it is also a psychological examination of Mallory herself. While this is my first Mallory novel, I felt I learned a great deal about this incredibly rich character. She has quite a history, largely influenced, in my mind, by her difficult upbringing.
Additionally, it is an examination of the life of a troubled set of children. Each chapter begins with a statement by a character named Ernest Nadler from his childhood. It isn’t until much later in the book that the reader discovers Nadler’s connection to the other victims mentioned.
As mentioned, this is my first Mallory novel. I can’t wait to dive in the other nine novels in the Kate Mallory series. Mallory is a no-nonsense, incredibly strong female character. I can’t wait to trace back her history with the New York City Police Department, to see how her character has evolved over the years. Recommended.
Tags: Frightful Friday, Mystery/Suspense, Putnam, Women's Fiction