November 21, 2013

Book Review: It Happens in the Dark by Carol O'Connell


Kathy Mallory is beautiful, antisocial and freakishly smart, spotting connections where no one else does. In the 11th Mallory novel, It Happens in the Dark, Carol O'Connell puts her heroine's strange talents to the test with a very peculiar case.

A Broadway play has been struggling to open: first its playwright renounced it, then had his lawyers attempt to shut it down. On opening night, a woman dies during the first act; the next night, there's an apparent suicide.

Could all of this be a coincidence? Mallory and her partner, Riker, don't think so. They start investigating the cast and crew of the play, ranging from pothead stagehands to prima donnas to former A-list actors. They try to shut down the play; but popular demand overwhelms them, so on night three another person dies--and a warning message appears for Mallory.

Now that a murderer is clearly stalking the play--and one with a particular animus against Mallory--the investigation really takes off. Playwrights, critics, actors, and stage fans all fall under the scrutiny of Mallory and Riker.

It Happens in the Dark is a twisted mystery about an even more bizarre play. The strangeness of the play spills over into the real world; making the cops crazy as they try to separate reality from fiction and figure out who is just acting and who had a reason to kill these people. O'Connell's cryptic writing aptly reflects the mysterious nature of the case--leaving the reader guessing as to what will happen next.

This book was kind of weird. And not my usual style of mystery at all. And yet, somehow, I was completely obsessed. I read it super fast, because I just had to find out where the strangeness was headed. I looked up reviews on Amazon, and there are apparently a ton of diehard Mallory fans out there. So I guess if you're used to her oddities, you'll probably enjoy this a lot.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Probably not (language, and general creepiness).

Have YOU read Carol O'Connell?

I originally wrote most of this review for Shelf Awareness. The cover image is an affiliate link.