Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: Vengeance is mine, sayith Mallory.
A blind child and a Catholic nun disappear from a city sidewalk in plain sight of onlookers. There, then gone – vanished in seconds. Those who witnessed the event still cannot believe it happened.
It was all too real. Detective Kathy Mallory and the NYPD’s Special Crimes Unit enter the investigation when the nun’s body is found with three other corpses in varying stages of decomposition left on the lawn of Gracie Mansion, home to the mayor of New York City. Sister Michael was the last to die. The child, Jonah Quill, is still missing.
Like Jonah, the police are blind. Unknown to them, he is with a stone killer, and though he has unexpected resources of his own, his would-be saviors have no suspect, no useful evidence, and no clue – except for Detective Mallory’s suspicions of things not said and her penchant for getting to the truth beneath lies.
Behind her back, the squad’s name for her is Mallory the Machine, yet she has a dark understanding of what it is to be human. A child is waiting, time is running out, and atop her list of liars is the mayor himself… and a theory of the crimes in which no sane cop could believe. (Goodreads)
Before there was Eve Dallas or Lisbeth Salander, there was Kathleen (don’t call me Kathleen or Kathy) Mallory. A rogue detective with the NYPD, this well-known sociopath thankfully uses her skills for good to help keep the streets of New York safe. In Blind Sight, Mallory and her long-suffering partner, Riker, are on the hunt for Jonah Quill and the person who murdered his aunt, Sister Michael, in broad daylight. As Mallory and Riker comb the city for clues, they discover a tangled web of deceit and murder that trails from the wealthiest scions of New York…all the way to the mayor.
I have long been a fan of Carol O’Connell and this series. As this is the 12th installment, I won’t go too in depth into the background of the main protagonist, only saying that Kathleen Mallory is still the same cold, calculating, manipulative, narcissistic anti heroine that fans first met in Mallory’s Oracle-book one. A genius with the face of an angel, the soul of a killer, the skill of a black hat, she has her own skewed moral compass when it comes wielding her sword for lady justice and she only follows the rules when they suit her.
The events in Find Me (book 9) wrapped up a long ongoing series arc, leaving readers to wonder where Mallory would go from there. Though she returns to the NYPD after months of unauthorized absence, many reader were dismayed to find nothing is ever mentioned of the life altering journey. Books nine and ten stuck strictly to the crime at hand and we didn’t see much growth or personality in Mallory beyond a sense that she is indeed capable of some forms of empathy in cases involving children.
Blind Sight really isn’t all that different from the last two books in that is an intense and convoluted psychological crime novel that speeds along, using a varied cast of complex characters and a myriad of fluid plot lines. There is no longer a subplot involving Mallory and search for her past which disappoints me to a certain extent. In the beginning, Mallory was a mystery in itself to unwrap but now that we have unwrapped her, we aren’t sure what to do with her.
Multiple narratives, told in the third person from several parties, give readers a kaleidoscope view of what is happening in different areas at the same time. The story opens on a series of snapshots, following three people up to the moment everything changed. What looks to be a simple string of random murders becomes a complicated story of murder for hire and insatiable greed.
Using the Mallory and Jonah as anchors for the story, O’Connell alternates between their scenes like a visual stopwatch-the constant tick tock reminding us of what’s at stake. Truth is all in the eye of the beholder and this is especially true as Mallory digs deep into the murdered victims’ pasts to discover what tied them together. O’Connell’s knowledge of procedural investigative work shows as she submerges us into the investigation though the constant head jumping is disconcerting. Verbose characters and the labyrinthine storyline guides us towards the answers. What I have always found especially interesting in this series is how the majority of the narrative is often centered on those questioning what Mallory is doing rather than from her own perspective. And even then, it is often a race to understand where her thought process is taking her and how she will make her victims look foolish in the end.
The chapters devoted to the kidnap victim (Jonah Quill) and the killer are interesting to follow as Jonah he must draw upon everything his aunt ever taught him to try to stay alive. The skill at which he uses to humanize himself to his captor belays his young age. The killer’s thoughts and dialogue are clear and concise; helping to build understanding for the events taking place. There is a hunt of mysticism surrounding these two people, alluding to the age old question of whether a strong emotional attachment can tether someone to the physical plane when they pass.
The secondary characters are as complex as our protagonist. O’Connell doesn’t write heroes. She creates people with feet of clay who often manipulate the system around them in order achieve their goal-justice. Each one has a personal stake in the case and they all add personality, drama, and insight to the story. The cast provides a solid foundation in which to give our heroine a frame from which to work and build from. I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces though I felt O’Connell spends too much time allowing these characters to reminisce on Mallory’s past deeds in her youth, creating unnecessary lag time in the story. Quite a few pages could have shaved off the story simply by foregoing the trips down memory lane. After twelve books I find it a bit disingenuous that anyone who knows her is surprised by how she behaves anymore. There is a faint feeling that O’Connell is setting Mallory up for a new personal storyline but I’m truly baffled by where she will take her.
The ending comes at the reader hard, fast, and overwhelms as Mallory connects all the dots, using information from cases long ago and we are the inundated with quite a bit of information. Not much time is given to absorb the sheer magnitude of what and why of the crimes committed. The use of an old case to help solve this new case, along with the added bonus of offering benediction to Riker felt out of place in the grand scheme of things. All the loose ends are wrapped up, most questions answered, and the wrongs of the past are made right and finally laid to rest. While each story is self-contained; explored and resolved within the book, the protagonist is a very complicated figure whose appreciation and understanding of requires starting from the very beginning.
Overall Rating: C+