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Shell Game (Kathleen Mallory #5)

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,511 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
O'Connell (Judas Child) deftly demonstrates her own sleight of hand as she recounts NYPD detective Kathleen Mallory's investigation of the "accidental" death of magician Oliver Tree, who died while trying to recreate on live TV the late Max Candle's most famous trick, in which a man survives the fire of four crossbows. As Mallory capitalizes on her friendship with Candle's ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published January 4th 2001 by Arrow (first published July 5th 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Barbara M
I can't even begin to imagine where Carol O'Connell comes up with these ideas! There are five elderly magicians in town to stage a big magic festival. Mallory, an excellent character of O'Connell's, gets involved when one of the acts goes wrong. Her friend Charles is nephew of a great magician of the past that each of these men had known back in their apprenticeship in France during WWII.

The book goes back and forth between now and the the past of the 1940s through stories of the men as Mallory
Roman Clodia
Oct 23, 2016 Roman Clodia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mallory rules!

Once again, O'Connell proves herself to be the most twisted, imaginative and most sheerly brilliant writer on the contemporary crime scene.

After the previous outing which took Mallory back to her childhood, here we're back in New York with a grisly series of deaths involving magicians, illusions and failed magical tricks. As ever in this series, nothing is what it seems but the heart of the book lies not with the conventional unravelling of the complicated deaths, but with Mallory
Oct 07, 2016 Albieglad rated it it was ok
This was so difficult to get through. I don't know why I worked so hard to finish it. I should've just put it down!!
Apr 16, 2016 Tracey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 4-star
The magic is back in the Mallory series, full force. The book begins with a glimpse at the legendary Malakhai, who has been mentioned in other books but never featured as a character. Here he is, elderly and disoriented, with his wife Louisa, long dead but still around. Malakhai - with Louisa –manages to place himself in front of his television to watch an old comrade in arms perform a long-unseen illusion as the opening to a festival of magic in New York City over Thanksgiving. But the illusion ...more
Òphiere editoriale
Per estrema onestà verso il presumibile pubblico del mystery tascabile, limito la valutazione a due stelle e non consiglio la lettura di questo romanzo. In pratica non diverte, troppo lungo e cincischiato lo sviluppo. Tuttavia questo romanzo ha molti meriti che lo pongono al sopra della produzione media della O'Connell. I lettori di thriller vogliono velocità e divertimento e non lo apprezzeranno. Lo faranno forse di più i lettori di romanzi tout cour, più pazienti, che avranno modo di scoprire ...more
Shell Game by Carol O'Connell is the 5th book of the Kathleen Mallory mystery series set in late-20th-century New York City. The intricate plot concerns a close-knit group of world-class magicians. Some are retired, some still performing. They gather for Holidays of Magic in Manhattan, starting with a televised event to honor the late magician Max Candle by performing Lost Illusion, his most famous (and dangerous) act. But something goes wrong; magician Oliver Tree is killed. To the crowds and ...more
Shell Game - G+
Carol O'Connell
NYPD detective Kathleen Mallory's investigation of the "accidental" death of magician Oliver Tree who died while trying to recreate on live TV the late Max Candle's most famous trick, in which a man survives the fire of four crossbows. As Mallory capitalizes on her friendship with Candle's beloved cousin, Charles Butler, to delve into a WW II mystery involving a group of elderly magicians, all colleagues of Candle and Tree, hints of Mallory's inner life begin to eme
Jan C
Apr 24, 2011 Jan C rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I liked but didn't like this books. I had no interest in magicians. But maybe reading a "Mallory" book is like watching an accident take place. You don't want to watch yet at the same time you can't take your eyes away.

This story all goes back to this group of magicians and their activities in WWII. For whatever reason, they have gathered again in New York and Mallory's friend Charles is caught up with them. It seems his guardian, Max Candle (?), was one of them and left his tricks to Charles.

Dec 07, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it
I was reading a physical copy of this book while at the same time listening to an audio recording of Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins. What do a hard-boiled cop story (with flawed (of course) NYPD detective Katherine Mallory) and a literary novel have in common? For me it was how both authors showed WW II influencing late 20th century and early 21st century lives. How what men did during the horror that afflicted the world during a few years in the '40's have affected later generations. O'Connell ...more
Laura Morrigan
May 14, 2012 Laura Morrigan rated it really liked it
In a disturbing but addictive story, young sociopathic detective Mallory must discover who among a group of magicians is killing off the others, because of a decades old tragedy. I like the character of the dead wife, still alive in her husband's mind and kept 'alive' to others by the numerous little tricks he uses to evoke her ghost. I also enjoyed the terrifying idea of murder through sabotaged magic tricks, that kind of thrill and horror that drives us to watch magic, terrified that it is ...more
This is the 5th book in the Kathleen Mallory series by Carol O'Connell. It was an okay read I prefer the books that have Mallory dealing with a serial killer. This one dragged alot in parts, especially about the magic tricks and how they were performed.

I don't particularly like the character of Mallory and that has not made that much of a difference in the reading of the other books in this series I have read, but this one, this one, I really, really began to find her repulsive some of the thing
May 16, 2013 Audrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourite
I was quite unsure if I wanted to put this book in my favorites list; I decided it belongs there.

Shell Game is the first and only book I read in the Kathleen Mallory series written by Carol O'Connell. I have no special reason for picking up the book, so when I started reading I had no expectations.
As I was reading, I was pulled into the world of Kathleen Mallory, she intrigued me and as the story progressed, I looked forward to how she would react. The bits and pieces of humor littered in the
Dec 29, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of a series of books by Carol O'Connell about a beautiful, damaged, maverick, and almost sociopathic detective named Kathleen Mallory (who insists on being called simply "Mallory"), and the people that love her despite her flaws: Charles, an intelligent, rich, but ugly family friend; Lou, the cop that takes her in; and Riker, her adopted father's partner. The relationships that develop between these characters as they solve crimes together are the focus of the series. This story ...more
Sep 26, 2013 Tasula rated it really liked it
I find the Kathy Malloy (slightly sociopathic cop) mystery series very enjoyable, this was the 4th in the series, and in previous books we learned about her adoption by a cop, her computer skills, the small town she came from, and her circle of inherited friends (who were all her adoptive father's friends). In this book, she goes back to a theme from an earlier book (magic tricks and magicians), and to solve a mysterious death, she investigates a death from 1942 in France during Nazi occupation. ...more
Apr 27, 2015 Melliott rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
This series is really going up and down for me. Loved the last one, but in this one I'm back to impatience for it to be over, while the next one (reading now) is better again. This one I mostly didn't enjoy because it's all about magicians and I am not a magic fan. I felt every bit as frustrated as Mallory with the whole lot of them (perhaps more, since she at least had a working theory about whodunnit), and was glad to turn the last page. I also thought the ending was kind of a cop-out. But as ...more
Aug 05, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-modern
c1999. Another strong addition to the Kathleen Mallory stories. These are so different to the normal police procedural/crime books and the characters are so well written that I found myself totally forgetting that these were fictional characters. Publishers Weekly described this book as "Hypnotic" which is as close as a succinct description as there could be. FWFTB: television, accident, magic, spectacular, gruesome. FCN: Kathleen Mallory (of course), Sergeant Riker, Malakhai, Charles Butler. ...more
Sep 28, 2011 Lydia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unless well-versed in the world of magic, I highly doubt even those who can typically predict every twist of a plot will even come close to the surprises O'Connell has in this book. More than the previous Mallory books, Shell Game really makes you think - I found myself putting it down and reflecting on it, rereading certain passages to make sure I'd understood what was happening correctly, and doing all sorts of other things I don't usually need to do when I read for fun. The characters are ...more
Jeremy Hornik
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Penny Ramirez
Hmmm....I *swear* I've read this before, but I can't find any record that I've done so. But as I'm reading, it all seems very familiar. It will go quickly, I guess.

.... later

Ok, I've finished and I am STILL convinced that I've read this book before, even though I can find no evidence of that fact. I knew too many of the details.

I enjoy the Mallory books for their gritty, hard edges and surprising depth of heart and ethics. Mallory's tortured soul leads her to interesting conclusions.

On to the
Linda Robinson
Not my favorite, although I liked Nick Prado and Emile St. John. Too much painstaking and painful detail about how to build an illusion. By the time I got out from under the trapdoor in a platform the size of a small room, I forgot who I'd met and who the magicians were, who was my suspect, and who was going to get away with it all. This book is more like the juggling act in a vaudeville revue than the illusionist theater of wartime Paris. It's got Mallory, and that's the good stuff.
Apr 29, 2016 Gerry rated it it was ok
Overly complicated mystery lost its appeal by about the midpoint. Mallory continues as the former feral child who relates well to no one, has as her companions only a group of old men her foster father played cards with, and has an uncanny knack for ferreting out truth -- in this case, the complex series of events that led to an apparent accident during a magic trick, but actually revenge for a long ago murder.
Mar 13, 2013 Deb rated it liked it
this book was about magic! A group of magicians committed a crime during WWII in France - killed a woman that was married to one of the magicians. A plan gone wrong; however, the widow is out to get the murderer after all these years. Mallory gets involved due to a modern day murder. Also, Charles grew up with these magicians so knew them when he was 7 years old. A bit far fetched, but I did enjoy it.
Jul 03, 2016 Rebecca rated it liked it
It's the first book in the Mallory series that I haven't loved. I can't explain exactly why, other than to say the characters just didn't grab me as some in the past have done. The plot was ... OK, but also didn't grab me. Usually, I will abandon a book that I have to struggle to read, but as I plan to continue reading the Mallory series and don't want to miss something important, I got through it. It did have a few twists that were good.
Feb 28, 2015 Anahi rated it it was amazing
This book in O'Connell's Mallory series gives us a riveting historical murder, layered underneath more modern murders. The murders themselves are inventive & magical. The history is compelling. The literary style of O'Connell's s story telling mesmerizes. We also gain new insight into Detective Kathy Mallory's journey from "baby sociopath" to loner Special Crimes Unit cop. And we learn that she is not the monster that others would paint her or even a true sociopath.
Jul 31, 2013 LibraryLady rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Nothing is as it seems in this latest installment of Carol O'Connell's Detective Mallory series. When an old group of magicians get together to reenact one of Max Candle's ultimate acts, "accidents" begin to dwindle the magicians numbers. As Mallory works around departmental difficulties and sifts through master magician Malakhai's past and his wife Louisa's death, she discovers that magic is not for the faint of heart.
Jan 20, 2015 Sydney rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author kept my attention throughout the book. I had to keep checking which of the four magicians was involved in the discussion. The story is filled with deception, threats, suspenseful twists, unexplainable magic and illusions that fail, and flashbacks to WWII and the connections between the magicians and Louisa. Detective Mallory is an intriguingly brilliant character right to the unexpected ending. Really 3.75 stars on my scale.
Feb 02, 2016 Keith rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This one was quite difficult to finish. Mallory spend 90% of the novel badgering suspects with her theories and accusations. Also the reconstructions of various illusions and magic tricks got very tedious after awhile. Other Mallory novels I have loved for the quirky characters and dazzling sentences. Here even the sentences seemed dull. I was disappointed.
Patti Ashley
Jan 13, 2016 Patti Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More insight into Ryker

Ryder needs to believe he and his friends have leashed the feral child in Kathy Mallory. He needs to believe she is something less in some way. The shell game has a lot of moving parts. War history, lost illusions, and magical rivalries. Mallory appears to be the only one that can see things plainly.
Dec 14, 2008 Ejl rated it it was ok
This was recommended to me as mystery novel using the world of stage magicians as a setting. Not bad, but didn't really inspire me to read more in this series, mainly as the characters didn't feel very real (like Ed McBain) or unreal enough (a la Sherlock Holmes), nor was the mystery very compelling.
Michele bookloverforever
May 25, 2014 Michele bookloverforever rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Mallory is brilliant, obsessed and badly damaged psychologically from witnessing her mother's murder as a small child. rescued by a police officer when she wanderers as a homeless child she became an unorthodox police detective. her stories are strangely compelling as she solves complex puzzles with no holds barred in her search for the truth.
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Born in 1947, Carol O'Connell studied at the California Institute or Arts/Chouinard and the Arizona State University. She lives in New York City.

* Kathleen Mallory

More about Carol O'Connell...

Other Books in the Series

Kathleen Mallory (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Mallory's Oracle (Kathleen Mallory, #1)
  • The Man Who Cast Two Shadows (Kathleen Mallory, #2)
  • Killing Critics (Kathleen Mallory, #3)
  • Stone Angel (Kathleen Mallory, #4)
  • Crime School (Kathleen Mallory, #6)
  • Dead Famous (Kathleen Mallory, #7)
  • Winter House (Kathleen Mallory, #8)
  • Find Me (Kathleen Mallory, #9)
  • The Chalk Girl (Kathleen Mallory, #10)
  • It Happens in the Dark (Kathleen Mallory, #11)

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