55 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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A few years ago, I would not have believed that I'd ever rate a Mallory novel with three stars. I've been following O'Connell since 1997, when I ran across Killing Critics and over the course of about six months read all four Mallory books (including a British edition of Stone Angel published in advance of the American edition). With the exception of the terrible misfire of Bone by Bone (not a Mallory novel) O'Connell's books have all been treasures; challenging sometimes, but always entertaining, thoughtful, and well-written. O'Connell's other non-Mallory novel, Judas Child, will be a candidate when someone creates a "Ten Best Mysteries" list.
I'm hesitant to judge It Happens in the Dark, because a few of the books (Shell Game, Dead Famous) require second reading to be appreciated. Maybe when I re-read this one I'll find ironies and insights I missed the first time. But I'm afraid not. What is fundamentally wrong is clear from the first pages. The dynamic and tension of Kathy's relationship with her friends has become hollow bombast. The text keeps wondering why Slope doesn't shoot her. Well, he hasn't shot her for twenty years, why would he now? Her treatment of Rabbi Kaplan, Riker, and Charles Butler no longer has any ambiguity to it. Kathy's sociopathy has no sympathetic tangle to it, she is just hateful and vicious. A reader without the backstory would wonder why anyone puts up with her. There is a kind of pervasive meanness about the book that feels very uncomfortable.
Here's one little element that illustrates what I mean. A continuing gag in the series is Detective Janos, who is huge, scary-looking, and a very, very nice guy. For some reason O'Connell injects a new element into that characterization. Every time Janos is being nice, O'Connell accompanies it with a sadistic inner monologue about what he COULD do, if he weren't so nice. It gets old fast, it adds nothing to the plot, and it trivializes Janos in a way that's embarrassing.
Maybe this book will do well with initiates, people who haven't read any of the other books. It's a neat little "locked room" mystery and the solution is interestingly convoluted. But I suspect that's not going to be enough. The Nebraska subplot (the obligatory "old crime" that Kathy solves while pursuing the new one) is confusing and unconvincing. It's obvious who the culprit is, and there is no coherent explanation why the sheriff never solved the case.
But worst of all, a first reader is not going to buy Kathy. We have to take for granted her talent for scaring people just by looking at them, which she does to everyone in the first fifty-odd pages. She doesn't just demand agreement from her friends, she demands absolute obedience. She doesn't dazzle a few men into clumsy incoherence, she does it to everyone, including women. It's degenerated into schtick, and not very interesting schtick. I imagine trying to explain to a first reader why they should care about Kathy, and I throw up my hands.
What made Mallory interesting was not her sociopathy, but her struggle with it. What we were attracted to was not the "Mean Machine," but the woman who threw a rock through Charles' window to apologize for hurting him. In The Chalk Girl, she struggles with her identification with the orphaned girl, and her maternal instincts may remind us of Grendel's mother, but it's the instincts, not the monster, that's interesting. There is nothing interesting about hating Sparrow; what we care about is the Kathy who read to her while she lay dying.
If this series is going anywhere, it's time to fish or cut bait. Kathy needs to screw up in the next novel, screw up badly enough that she can't rationalize her way out of it, and screw up on her own terms. She needs a good, solid slap that she deserves, and then we'll see if she crumbles, goes rogue, or grows up. There's nothing that interesting in this novel.
Everybody can be off their game, even James Lee Burke and, this time, Carol O'Connell. Unless I missed something....
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Connie Davis's review Aug 31, 13 · edit
2 of 5 stars
Read in September, 2013
It was almost painful to give a Carol O'Connel Mallory book only 2 stars, because from the beginning of her books, I have adored this series and anxiously awaited the arrival of each Mallory mystery. Regrettably, I have found Mallory less interesting as the series has continued, significantly less likable, and importantly,less believable. This is Ms. O'Connell's creation, and she can portray her as she sees fit; she has stated in interviews she is aware that she has a winning character. However, consider this: people are influenced and changed by events in their lives. Mallory--in spite of what should have been an epiphany, a life-altering experience (the finding of her birth father after many years of searching in "Find Me")--appears unchanged by this event, and indeed, it is never mentioned or alluded to in subsequent novels.
One has to wonder why she has such a loyal and devoted group of people in her life, from wonderful sensitive, homely Charles who remains inexplicably in love with Mallory, to her partner Riker, and friends of her deceased father's. She is virtually never nice to any of them and delights in one-upping them at every turn; her character does not grow, but remains static. What is her appeal? She never seems to repond in ways that make her sympathetic or human . She reponds with a kind of petty, robotic meanness to the people who always forgive her, always look out for her, and continue to love her.
And where did she get this power Riker describes, to strike fear and awe in the hearts of every person--and animal--she meets, simply with a "look"? Why do some of these people not simply disregard her posturing, or laugh at her and walk away, as most would in real life? Her "power" is simply not believable. If Ms. O'Connell wants to creat a super-heroine with indefinable and inexplicable powers, than she has failed with Mallory. All Mallory's posturing would not strike awe, but rather it would promote the kind of annoying feeling one gets with an impotent bully. Hence, Mallory has beoome a caricature of her earlier self, fixed and immutable, not very believable, and now, alas, somewhat irritating.
I found the explication of the plot often confusing and difficult to follow; it seemed choppy to me, and not Ms. O'Connell's best writing. Carol O'Connell has been a master wordsmith, and innately possesses a special gift for writing heart-wrenching scenes and characters. These gifts were not highlighted in this novel.
For the above reasons, I found this book to be disappointing and not up to her usual standards. My greatest concern is with the characterization of Mallory who appears to have devolved into self-centered meanness from the wounded warrior as she was described in the earlier books. Nonetheless, I will no doubt be chomping at the bit waiting for the next chapter in Mallory's life, and seriously hoping to see some character growth in a more positive and realistic direction.