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Library Journal Review
Set in New York City's theater district, this solid entry in O'Connell's long-running series (after The Chalk Girl) follows NYPD detective Kathy Mallory and company as they track clues left by a "ghostwriter" directing changes in a new play: the edits are mysteriously written on the backstage chalkboard, and audience members are turning up dead after each performance. The play becomes a huge success as audiences flock to the theater in hopes of witnessing more murders. Though this dark-humored Mallory novel may be enjoyed as a stand-alone, series devotees will enjoy following the quirky, sad, and complex characters as they interact with the beautiful, brilliant, and merciless detective. Excellent narration by Barbara Rosenblat enhances the characterization and atmosphere of the story. Verdict Fans of Mallory will savor as well the fiercely independent female detectives in series by Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, and Nevada Barr.-Sandra C. Clariday, Tennessee Wesleyan Coll., Athens (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
M is for Mallory-Kathy Mallory, bestseller O'Connell's powerful and powerfully flawed New York Special Crimes Unit detective. M is also for morbid, macabre, and mordant-adjectives that can be applied to the plot, the prose, and the humor of this dazzling 11th novel in the series (after 2012's The Chalk Girl). An audience death on opening night stops Peter Beck's play The Brass Bed, based on the slaughter of a Nebraska family, as does the discovery of Beck's bloody corpse in a front-row seat the next night. Add to the strange mix of cast members a mysterious ghostwriter working on the script who leaves taunting messages for Mallory. Mallory makes startling deductions; manipulates witnesses, suspects, and colleagues unsparingly; humiliates a brash official who tries to grab her case; and draws the smalltown sheriff who investigated the actual slayings to Manhattan. Her bravura performance wreaks justice both inside and outside the legal system. Author tour. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
This latest addition to the popular Mallory series, launched in 1995 with Mallory's Oracle, seems almost like a send-up of the tough detective novel, so over the top are Mallory's appearances and other people's reactions to her. Kathy Mallory is an NYPD detective whose beauty and insight overwhelm everyone. As does her rudeness: Mallory's way of ordering people around more befits a traffic cop than a detective. This one has a Broadway background: two deaths occur in two nights in the audience of a play; the second one is that of the playwright. O'Connell resurrects the Phantom of the Opera device of having notes delivered to the actors; here, someone writes threats and directions on a backstage blackboard. This does intensify the suspense but in a somewhat formulaic way. Not at the level of some other Mallory mysteries but necessary reading for devoted fans.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
The latest novel in the Detective Kathy Mallory series. On opening night of a Broadway play, a woman dies from a heart attack in a front-row seat. On the second night, a man's throat is cut--again, in the front row. "Oh, crap. Not again," moans a thespian. But the publicity is great--"a play to die for," crows the press. NYC detectives Mallory and Riker investigate, and they discover a full cast of strange people backstage--coke users, an actor with multiple personalities and a mysterious ghostwriter changing every line of the play. Because of the deaths, the play doesn't get past Act 1 for the first several performances. As for the novel itself, it's mainly a vehicle for showing off Mallory's odd personality. Sure, she'll get to the bottom of the violence, as all fictional detectives do. What makes her distinctive is the way she gets under the skin of friends and enemies alike--oh, wait, it's not so clear she has friends. She is consistently smarter than everyone else and routinely shows people up. OK, she went to a police academy, not charm school, and she's damned good at her job. This is a well-constructed mystery featuring an occasionally annoying heroine--at least one character would love to knock her head off with a baseball bat, while some readers may wish she would make some arrests and get it over with, already. The dialogue is clever, and the scenes are well-done, but somewhere in the middle, the story starts to drags. Pacing isn't paramount, and it's more important to showcase Mallory's talent for outsmarting people. Mallory fans won't be disappointed in her latest adventure, even though sections of the book could have been tighter.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.