Only the Shadow may know what evil lurks in the hearts of men, but, as a street kid grown up to become an NYPD sergeant, Kathy Mallory has a pretty good idea. The enigmatic 25-year-old also has more tricks to break into top-secret computer files than any slacker hacker, marksmanship that would impress Annie Oakley, and a genius admirer named Charles Butler who dabbles in private investigations. It looks like she's going to need all of them to catch the murderer of a young woman initially mistaken for her.
Undercover in a posh co-op on Central Park West, Mallory quickly spots some potential suspects—including a Supreme Court nominee who may be beating his wife and a celebrated blind author who may not be blind. Meanwhile her pal Butler is trying to get to the bottom of an apparent poltergeist that threatens to become deadly.
O'Connell weaves a suspenseful yarn that exploits both her thoroughly original characters and the vivid cityscape. The resulting puzzler is even more satisfying than the writer's 1994 debut, Mallory's Oracle (Jove paperback). And that's high praise indeed. (Putnam, $22.95)