Friday, 5 September 2014


I’m JW Hicks, author of Rats, and this is my first outing on the Triskele blog; here’s hoping it’ll be a comfy ride.

I’ve been considering a by-line, and this is what I’ve come up with:- The Maunderings of an Addict of Quirk.

The dictionary definition of quirk is as follows:- idiosyncratic, odd, capricious. Flukey even.

I look for quirk when searching for reading material. Today quirk is easy to find, what with dramatically graphic covers, juicy blurbs, and reviews – there are shed loads of informative reviews to be found, in newspapers and online.

When I was young my local library didn’t have categories. If you wanted science fiction, the paranormal or indeed anything out-of-the-ordinary, then you damn well had to search the shelves, book by dusty book. (You didn’t dare ask old stone-face, she’d just glare, or worse say something patronising.) So, I’ll be sharing my favourite reads with you, hoping to tease you into enjoying my quirk as well as hopefully finding your own.

Quirk comes in many guises, in YA fiction, General fiction, sci-fi, crime, and so on. Quirk, you’ll find, is everywhere. Just look.

My first quirky review is of Carol O’Connell’s Mallory’s Oracle. A detective novel with more than a generous dollop of Quirk.

When you’ve finished reading Mallory’s Oracle you will feel bereft. Straightaway you’ll start searching for another Mallory fix. Be comforted, Oracle was only the start of the series; you’ve ten more to satisfy your craving.

Oracle lays the groundwork for the other ten and introduces you to a most remarkable female detective. If you’re looking for ‘Quirk’ Kathleen Mallory, a 5`10``, blonde, green eyed beauty with a heart of stone, has it in spades. As the series progresses you will learn of how and why Mallory has become what she is; a woman with an ice-cold machine-like brain and a sociopathic personality which enables her to solve the most convoluted, mystifying crimes... and yet somehow manages not turn you, the reader, against her. There is something deep inside Mallory that occasionally surfaces to surprise you. But then you get to thinking, is she finally demonstrating empathy, or putting on a rather clever performance?

Mallory, a feral eleven year old thief, was adopted off the streets by Detective Louis Markowitz and his wife. She learns love, or at least feel the closest thing she can manage to it, for her adopted parents. Fifteen years later, Mallory has followed Markowitz into the NYPD, and is the leading light of the computer department. Her youthful criminal talents not lost, but hidden.

When Louis Markowitz, the man she idolises, is brutally murdered, she uses her compassionate leave to find his killer – by any means in her power. Her formidable hacking skills being only one arrow in her quiver of talents. Others being her relationship with Charles Butler an old friend of her father’s, and Sergeant Riker, a NYPD cop. Only those two men dare to touch Mallory in any way or refer to her by her Christian name.

Along the line, Mallory uncovers a complicated plot that deals with magic, séances, and insider trading.

As O’Connell’s novels progress, so does the gradual unearthing of the terrible secrets that lie in Mallory’s past. Each novel is as breath-holdingly powerful as the one before.

Fascinated by Mallory’s author, Carol O’Connell, I looked for but couldn’t find a website, email address or any other means of contact. As a last resort, and after reading the Publishers Weekly interview with the author, I emailed Louisa Ermelino, Reviews Director, asking permission to use the content on the Triskele blog. She gave permission, and here it is!

An interview with the author, Carol O’Connell. (May 31, 2013) With the permission of Publishers Weekly

Photograph by Sigrid Estrada
An Unlikable Lady Detective: PW Talks with Carol O’Connell.

In Carol O’Connell’s It Happens in the Dark, Kathy Mallory’s 11th outing, the New York Special Crimes Unit detective investigates the murder of a Manhattan playwright.

Tell us a little about the genesis of Kathy Mallory.

Whenever I go out on tour, someone will ask if Mallory is autobiographical. It always startles me. I like to think that I show no markers for a sociopath. Mallory is purely a work of imagination. This answer disappoints everyone.

What do readers make of Mallory’s lack of lovability or even likability?

After my first book was published [Mallory’s Oracle], I received an envelope full of religious material from a fan who wanted to save my soul. That’s when I knew I was on to something.

Mallory’s drive remains as intense as ever, and she’s still lacking in warmth.

Sometimes readers ask for a kinder, gentler Mallory. I explain that if I do that, I’ve got no book. These are character-driven novels, and I like the way the lady drives. In that respect, she has a vehicular-homicide way about her: always a challenge to go through a red light before it can turn green. I suppose I could try to warm up her image by giving her a dog, but the dog would be frightened all the time.

Why does art play a major role in several Mallory novels?

I was raised and educated to be a painter, so I wrote in the closet. When I left school, it was with the objective of becoming a starving artist and dying in the gutter. I messed up that idea when my first book was published. And now, through no fault of my own, I seem to have stumbled on job security as an author.

How would you characterize Mallory’s deductive style?

A lot of Mallory’s display of deductive reasoning is based on her unique sense of sport, tossing something out there just to make your head explode. But then a solid rationale unfolds as one’s brain matter is peeled off the ceiling. She has no superpowers, just a good intellect and the skill set to do the job. Also, as Woody Allen once said, “It’s amazing what you can do when you’re neurotic.”

What keeps Mallory from becoming a PI?

I never flirted with the idea of a PI. They are never involved in open homicide cases; they could lose their licenses for interfering in one. They have very little in the way of resources, no access to evidence, and zero authority. If I were to write a book about private detectives, a novel that would not cause readers to laugh in all the wrong places, it would be a deadly boring book.
—Bob Hahn

Right it’s me, JW, again. Next time I’ll dive into the world of Quirk and talk of CJ Cherryh, my favourite sci-fi writer.

I hope you’ll join me in that other dimension.

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