It Happens in the Dark – Carol O’Connell

Kathy Mallory is a troubled individual who happens to be a murder detective; she’s brilliant, beautiful, well groomed, and tragic all at the same time. Her idea of personal relations is unique – a combination of circumstances too complex to go in to here – but her lack of social graces has not left her short of friends and admiring colleagues. She is an enigma to whom some are drawn and from whom many are repelled. But if you buy into this character – as I do – you are rewarded with one of the finest literary detectives ever created, populating a series of novels full of concise writing, sharp dialog, and twists aplenty, both literary and plot.

This particular book is set in a New York theater where people die. Oh, and some strange, unseen character called the ghostwriter is rewriting the play, line by line. The first night’s audience is poor, the second bigger, and the third a sellout.

The reviews called it ‘A Play to Die For’ after the woman was found dead in the front row. It didn’t seem so funny the next night, when another body was found – this time the playwright’s, with his throat slashed.

When the first violent death occurs, in comes Mallory, her partner Riker, and the crew. There’s a tangle with the CSI people, a squabble over jurisdiction elsewhere, and a long unsolved case that adds to the myriad plots threads.

Slowly and exquisitely the author reveals all. It’s not a pretty picture, and you may feel you have to suspend disbelief a touch too much to get there, but it’s finely constructed and hugely entertaining. At the core are Mallory and many other fine pieces of characterization. Sure, the plot is a work of grandeur. But the characters are even better. Even those with limited walk on parts are finely crafted, in the main.

Another super novel from Carol O’ Connell.

Score: 8.5/10.