The Chalk Girl (A Mallory Novel)
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The eight-year-old girl appeared in New York’s Central Park one day: red-haired, blue-eyed, dirty-faced, smiling widely. She looked perfect, like a porcelain fairy—except for the blood on her shoulders. It fell from the sky, she told the police. It happened while she was looking for her Uncle Red, who had turned into a tree. Right, they thought, poor child. And then they found the body in the tree.
For Mallory, newly returned to the Special Crimes Unit after three months’ lost time, spent she will not say where, there is something about the girl that she understands. Mallory is damaged, they say, dangerously unstable, but she can tell a kindred spirit when she sees one. And this one will ultimately lead her to a story of extraordinary crimes, to murders stretching back fifteen years, to blackmail and complicity and a particular cruelty that perhaps only someone with Mallory’s history could fully recognize. In the next few weeks, she will deal with them all…in her own way.
obscenities.” Miss Scott slammed the door on her way out. Now he knew that his secretary had finally been successful in finding another position. Another runaway woman. He pulled the throwaway cell from his pocket and called his residence. One ring, two rings—three. Annie, my Annie, come to the phone. WILLY FALLON CLIMBED out of the subway near the Greenwich Village movie theater. She turned a corner and walked westward into that patch of New York City where grid logic broke down,
cry, too,” she said. “Most people don’t know that.” FIVE As school traditions go, this one is kind of cool. Every year on the first day of spring and very early in the morning, somebody sneaks into the garden and draws the chalk outline of a girl on the flagstones. No one steps on it, and it lasts almost the whole day before the janitor is told to hose it away. My friend Phoebe calls the chalk girl Poor Allison. She jumped off the school’s roof a few years ago. That was before
for little redheads. That’s why he took her.” She pulled a bill from the pocket of her jeans and showed it to him. “This twenty says Uncle Red’s no relation to Coco.” “You’re on.” Riker turned a broad smile on their host. “What about you?” “No bet. I already know the answer.” Charles filled three cups from the percolator, which he prized above a computerized coffeemaker that Mallory had given him one Christmas. That gift had been yet another of her failed efforts to introduce this man
tested this one in the park.” He touched the two red battery leads. “These hook up to any twelve-volt.” He nodded to the car battery at the other end of the table. “I’m guessing the Hunger Artist would pick the lightest brand. That one weighs thirty-five pounds.” Mallory folded her arms, clearly not buying any of this. “There’s no good reason why a perp would make this so complicated.” “I don’t care about why,” said Heller. “We’re telling you how he did it.” He bent down to the carton,
desk. The detectives remained standing in the unwritten protocol for dealing with this man: Show respect or be pounded into the ground. The big man held a fax sheet in his hand and waved it like a flag. “I bypassed the chief of the department and personally delivered your request to Rolland Mann. And I showed him your copy of his old ViCAP search. He’ll see you this afternoon in Commissioner Beale’s office. He moved all his stuff in there the other day—five minutes after they carted the old