Mallory, on “unofficial” leave from the NYPD, has disappeared from New York at the same time a dead woman is found in Mallory’s apartment. Several states away, a dead body points the way down old Route 66, its hand removed and replaced with the bones from a child’s hand. For years a serial killer has been murdering little girls along this highway. Does the message carved into the face of this new body refer to these old cases?
Mallory is on a trip into the past, chasing her own demons on the legendary highway, when her path intersects with that of a caravan of parents seeking their missing children. The serial killer has begun targeting the parents, positioning them so that the bone hand points to a new grave along the highway. Now Mallory, along with her partner Riker and psychologist Charles Butler, must shepherd the caravan to safety and stop the serial killer before he takes the penultimate victim.
Fans of the Mallory novels know that the protagonist is not that different from the criminals she hunts. Adopted and raised by NYPD officer Lou Markowitz and his wife, Helen, Mallory has learned society’s rules but chooses only to follow those she deems necessary. Cold and self-assured on the outside, inside Mallory remains a lost child. As Find Me begins, Mallory’s exterior is beginning to crack.
Mallory operates as a lone wolf, giving away little information to those she works with or to readers. Her normal world is absolutely orderly and controlled; however, as the ninth novel in this series opens, that control has begun to slip. Mallory’s trip into her past is beginning to highlight the cracks in the veneer. Mallory’s car is filthy, her nail polish is chipped, and she has become forgetful. Most telling of all, she has left New York without a computer.
In Find Me, Carol O’Connell has not only provided a complex and intricately woven mystery but has also a window into Mallory’s history, motivations and character. By placing her personal story in counterpoint to the grief, loss and anguish of the haunted caravan parents, O’Connell shares a great deal about Mallory through inference. The expected meltdown never fully occurs. All the signs are there, though, and even though Mallory allows no human warmth to show, readers will care deeply for the sociopathic protagonist.