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5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe her best one yet......
This fifth book in the Mallory series was the best one I've read yet and I love the fact that each one of these books stand alone. Instead of repeating whole sections of previous books to fill the reader in, O'Connell sums up everything you need to know in one or two sentences here and there. She is truly a gifted writer. This story finds Mallory in the middle of a...
Published on July 16 2004 by Margaux Paschke

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Shell Game is not bullet proof
I had "Great Expectations" for this book. The book comes up short of bitter/sweet. A miscalculation of Mallory's personality. Can a reader still care for this character? I have read Carol O'Connels other books and in each case have been breathless to continue to the next. Her writing is crisp,stylish and plots satisfying. Characters in her novels are usually...
Published on Aug. 3 2001


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Shell Game is not bullet proof, Aug. 3 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Shell Game (Mass Market Paperback)
I had "Great Expectations" for this book. The book comes up short of bitter/sweet. A miscalculation of Mallory's personality. Can a reader still care for this character? I have read Carol O'Connels other books and in each case have been breathless to continue to the next. Her writing is crisp,stylish and plots satisfying. Characters in her novels are usually complicated enough for me to care about them, and the web of intrigue keeps me from doing other duties until I finish her books. In the "Shell Game" I was very disappointed and in fact had a hard time finishing the book. I feel as if the author short changed the characters developed in other books. Considering what I thought a set up for complicated interest in the book "Stone Angel" Mallory does not deliver in Shell Game - weak plot. The Shell Game should be magic in verse and story. I feel Ms. O'Connell deceived the greatness of supporting characters such as Charles Butler and Riker. Strong characters in Stone Angel their loyalty was betrayed by a weak sub-plot in SG. Ms. O'Connell herself proved that digging up Mallory's past was not necessarily a good thing, since the next book did not measure up. Is there hope for her character after this?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe her best one yet......, July 16 2004
By 
This review is from: Shell Game (Mass Market Paperback)
This fifth book in the Mallory series was the best one I've read yet and I love the fact that each one of these books stand alone. Instead of repeating whole sections of previous books to fill the reader in, O'Connell sums up everything you need to know in one or two sentences here and there. She is truly a gifted writer. This story finds Mallory in the middle of a revenge murder surrounded by magicians. The regular cast appears yet they are much more in the background this time as Mallory is front and center. For the first time the reader becomes much more emphatic with her character as we see a softer side and watch Mallory evolve into this more humane person (she opens up and shares a deep dark secret - her pysch evaluation as a child - with another character and we also see how hurt she is when those closest to her don't believe her). However, just when we think Mallory has changed and gone all sappy on us, the plot ends with Mallory being pure Mallory which is pure genius. I've always thought Mallory was a misunderstood character as she does stand for moral principles and maybe you have have to be somewhat cold to be willing to go to the lengths she does when choosing between right and wrong. We even understand why Mallory is the way she is given her background......and although there are no obvious "Stone Angel" references, the revelations of Mallory's past in that book have visibly and profoundly affected Mallory as her story continues in this murder mystery. Speaking of which, I'm thrilled the whole haunting love story of Louisa and Malakhai was the focal point as it was always hinted at previously and the real narrative was fascinating. This author knows how to write a spellbinding tale.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely complicated story...almost too much so!, Feb. 19 2002
By 
K. L Sadler "Dr. Karen L. Sadler" (Freedom, Pa. USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shell Game (Mass Market Paperback)
I remember how much I really enjoyed the first couple of books by O'Connell. She introduced the female character Mallory, who is so multifaceted in personality and characteristics due to her very different childhood. Up til this book, both the characterization of people and plot development were very well handled by O'Connell. This time the author came up short. I don't know why. O'Connell doesn't churn these mysteries out as fast as she can like some other female writers of the mystery genre.
This book is not a bad read. Compared to many other authors who do churn out mysteries on a bi-annual basis, this book is a masterpiece. Yet, if the reader compares this book to O'Connell's first few books, they will be a mite disappointed.
There are way too many characters. Not only was the plot very complicated due to it having to do with WWII and a group of magicians, but there were too many characters to keep track of. On top of that, it is obvious O'Connell did a lot of research into certain illusions, which for someone who has no background in magic ended up being very confusing.
More was revealed about Mallory's background and how she thinks. This was probably the best part of the book. Yet the development of her two 'buddies', Riker the cop and Charles, the man who is Mallory's friend, was almost absent. They were placed in the book as an afterthought. There were six magicians originally, and though all were present during WWII, in the future, the now that exists for Mallory and gang, two are dead (and includes the 'original' murder victim), and the rest seem to be involved in a conspiracy. Not only do we find out that there was a much earlier murder victim, but the readers are expected to keep track of the variety of illusions, the history of all these men, and their backdrop (which was WWII). It ended up being too much, and I had a difficult time keeping track of everything.
I am hoping this is a one-time fluke. Not every book can be a hole-in-one, and this book can be enjoyed for the intelligence with which it is written. I would recommend readers go to her other books, if they want a better example of what O'Connell is capable of.
Karen Sadler
University of Pittsburgh
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mallory returns at last, but not quite what I'd hoped., July 15 2001
By 
frumiousb "frumiousb" (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Shell Game (Mass Market Paperback)
When a magician is killed in a stage accident, only Mallory believes it to have been murder. In order to solve that crime and prevent another, she's drawn into a relationship with a charismatic elderly magician who forces her to question basic elements of her own nature.
_Stone Angel_ (as has been stated by other reviewers) was a breathtaking book. The problem with it was that it was very difficult to follow. While I don't want to see too much change in Mallory (_Stone Angel_ showed the potential for change, but didn't provide a personality magic wand), I also didn't expect to see this book written as if the events in that book had never happened.
There were many interesting and well-written characters in _Shell Game_, but I found the plot itself a little bit weak. Magicians are such an easy target, and there were a few too many stereotypes pulled out of the bag in this book. It's a bit like a mystery written about the theater, the writer really has to earn the subject matter. O'Connell doesn't.
Additionally, the mystery became so complex at a given point that I found it difficult to keep caring about who did what to whom when.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointing Step Backwards for Mallory and O'Connell, May 25 2001
By 
Joseph "jck09" (Cincinnati, OH USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Shell Game (Mass Market Paperback)
In _Mallory's Oracle_, Carol O'Connell introduced us to a unique detective - Mallory, a beautiful, near-sociopathic genius with a mysterious past. Somehow, O'Connell made the character and her friends really sing, and the series took off. Book by book, Mallory tracked down a series of eccentric, exceptional criminals, either from a sense of tidiness or possibly some buried sense of justice. Book by book, Mallory gave some of the people around her, and the readers, small hints into the trauma that shaped her. (Again, it sounds corny when I write it, but it was great. I can't explain it - that's just O'Connell's gift.)
In the previous Mallory book, _Stone Angel_, Mallory and several of the supporting characters end up in her home town, confront her past, and bring justice to the people responsible for her childhood. The book was terrific, second only to _Judas Child_, and seemed to open up the possibility of some kind of radical character growth for Mallory.
Now, we get _Shell Game_, and it turns out that the shell O'Connell picked was empty this time. This reads like a Mallory idea from three books ago. Mallory is back exactly to her old self - cold, remote, merciless, brilliant. Ok, fine, but it's not mysterious anymore. We know why she is the way she is, and if she can't change or grow, even a little, then why read more books?
With all that said, the book is still far better than most mysteries, and draws on the typical O'Connell bag of tricks. Mallory must solve a murder/accident involving a magic trick gone wrong, and matches wits with an exotic group of magicians hiding a secret from the distant past. She confronts the possibility of romance with one or more men almost her equal, and manipulates people to solve the mystery.
In fact, this book is almost an exact copy of _Killing Critics_, with magicians substituted for the artists and art critics in the prior book. That is probably the core of my dissatisfaction; Mallory had the chance to incorporate the events of _Stone Angel_ into her persona, but instead took two steps back, and had the same almost-romance with a potential killer and the same "stay away from me" relationship with her friends as she had several books ago. In the end, _Shell Game_ is a well-written disappointment.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A book I found hard to pick up, Feb. 5 2001
By 
T.H. Agee (Auckland New Zealand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Shell Game (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read all of the Carol O'Connell books featuring Mallory, etc. Having always had an interest in magic, I thought this would be a great read. "Tedious" is the word many other reviewers have used and I agree. I really lost interest in how and why Louisa had been killed 60 years before and which of the magicians were guilty then and now for the present murder(s). Thank goodness it was not the first O'Connell book I have read. Not up to the standard of those great books that preceded it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Even the slightest differences mean a lot, Feb. 2 2001
By 
This review is from: Shell Game (Mass Market Paperback)
Carol O'connell has shown subtle new shadings in Mallory's character directly related to her personal journey in Stone Angel. As always, O'connell uses a suggestion here--an inference there, playing an incredibly skillful game of slight of hand with the reader. This is Kathy Mallory is a new phase--someone facing the consequences of her actions instead of indifferently shrugging as she turns away. Great job, well executed. Marvelous read.
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1.0 out of 5 stars truly terrible, Jan. 7 2001
By 
This review is from: Shell Game (Mass Market Paperback)
A tedious, tiresome, terrible book. Mallory is completely unlikeable and I just couldn't find a reason to care less about her. She does not elicit interest, empathy or sympathy. Where did her interest in oliver tree and the WWII murder come from anyway??? The story was bogged by technical details about magic tricks. At one point I found myself wishing that there were explanatory illustrations so I could figure out what was supposed to be happening. The magicians were equally as tedious. By the end I couldn't care less who had killed whom for what reason. My only goal was to just get the thing finished and shelved in a dark, forgotten corner where it belongs.
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4.0 out of 5 stars No Stone Angel, but a great read nonetheless!, Dec 3 2000
By 
José L. González (San Antonio, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Shell Game (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read the entire Mallory series and, without a doubt, Stone Angel is the best. Still, Shell Game was extremely interesting, the storytelling up to O'Connell's usual standard. The new twist in showing Mallory's emotions, albeit sparingly, is perhaps the opening of a door to a side of Mallory we've been told has never existed (i.e. the child without a heart, a soul, etc.) Looking forward to future Mallory stories!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best Mallory book yet., Oct. 23 2000
By 
J. D. Rome (Omaha, Nebraska USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Shell Game (Hardcover)
I've read in some of the other reviews discontent with this book and I find it perplexing. This was, by far, the best book of the bunch. The main characters have been developed, the "mystery" of Mallory's past revealed in Stone Angel and, finally, Ms O'Connell can just spin out good stories without the soap opera nonsense of a "mysterious" past (which I endured because the rest of the stories were so very good).
This book is a deliciously interesting story of magic, madness and betrayal in the very best tradition of classic Doyle and Christie. If you are looking for a 90210 script dealing only with the love-life and past of the protaganist with story as a very minor background note you will want to look elsewhere. If you want a rich story that will captivate you and surprise you ... this is the one.
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Shell Game
Shell Game by Carol O'Connell (Mass Market Paperback - July 6 2010)
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