This is a break-the-mold detective story, an incredible debut for O'Connell and a blessing to female detective fans everywhere. Sgt. Kathleen Mallory, a computer hacker for the NYPD, started life as a wild child on New York City's streets. She was adopted by police detective Louis Markowitz and his wife, Helen, but the happy years with them have merely laid a civilized veneer over what is still a semi-savage product of the urban jungle. At the book's opening, Mallory is an orphan again: Helen Markowitz died years before and Detective Markowitz has just been felled by a serial killer. Mallory buries him and then, while on compassionate leave, methodically tracks the killer. One of this book's key pleasures is the high level of intelligence and unpredictability exhibited by all the main characters, whether it's Mallory, the killer, the chief of police, the old ladies who get their kicks from sÃ‰ances and playing the stock market, or Charles Butler, Mallory's unwitting new detective partner, father figure, and potential love interest. Mallory isn't the only one struggling to adjust to civilized society: There's a millionaire with an IQ of 187 who can't figure out how to get food out of cans; a young girl, who has just inherited a fortune, has to panhandle for subway fare. The heart of the book is made up of magical illusions, theatrical performances that pass for reality, emotional and media-related distortions. Nothing in this world of wealthy dowagers on Gramercy Park is what it seems. It is up to Mallory, Butler, and even Detective Markowitz's ghostly presence to sift through the illusions and the stock reports until the real killer is identified and caught. A publishers' feeding frenzy netted O'Connell $800,000 for this book and the sequel -- which means, fortunately, that it won't be long before we hear from Mallory again.