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DEAD FAMOUS by Carol O’Connell Kirkus Star


by Carol O’Connell

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2003
ISBN: 0-399-15084-6
Publisher: Putnam

In her eighth outing, iconic detective Kathy Mallory takes on the FBI, a serial killer, a powerful shock jock, the depression of her ex-partner, and a determined woman nearly as brilliant and devious as herself.

Loner Johanna Apollo lives at the Chelsea Hotel and works as a crime-scene cleaner. A hunchback with long black hair and extra long legs, Johanna resembles a giant spider maneuvering Manhattan’s dicey streets. She works for Mallory’s scruffy partner Riker (currently on medical leave after an on-the-job shooting) and has, like her fellow characters, a closetful of secrets O’Connell shrewdly doles out piecemeal, tilting the landscape with each new revelation. FBI agent Marvin Argus is hounding her about an unsolved Chicago case, the killing of Timothy Kidd, another Fed, her psychiatric patient and/or lover and/or victim. Meanwhile, New York shock jock Ian Zachary pushes his popularity through the roof by fomenting public outrage against a jury that let an apparent killer go free. Stopping just short of criminal activity, he exhorts his audience to locate the jurors. As the tale opens, eight of them have been killed by someone identifying himself as The Reaper. After grappling with personal demons and mental stability in her last case (Crime School, 2002), superwoman Mallory returns with a vengeance, and in total control. But clever Johanna tests both her wits and her will.

Memorable characters and blazingly original prose. Once again, O’Connell transcends the genre.