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The Judas Child

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It is three days before Christmas, and two young girls have disappeared from the local academy. This hasn't happened for fifteen years, since Rouge Kendall's twin sister was murdered. The killer was found, but now Rouge, twenty-five and a policeman, is forced to wonder: was he really the one? Also wondering is a former classmate named Ali Cray, a forensic psychologist with scars of her own. The pattern is the same, she says: a child called out to meet a friend. The friend is the bait, the Judas child, and is quickly killed. But the primary victim lives longer. . .until Christmas day. Rouge doesn't want to hear this. He's spent the last fifteen years trying to avoid the memories. A little girl has haunted his dreams all these years - and he has three days to finally put her to rest. Filled with rich prose, resonant characters, and knife-edged suspense that have won so many fans, Judas Child is Carol O'Connell's most powerful novel yet.

Readers familiar with Mallory, the intriguing and original heroine of O'Connell's four previous suspense novels, will recognize familiar themes of loss and abandonment in the brilliant, enigmatic forensic psychologist Ali Cray, whose scarred face only hints at the emotional residue of a childhood trauma. Ali ties the mysterious disappearance of two young girls to the rape and murder long ago of Susan Kendall, the twin sister of a small-town New York policeman, Rouge. Realizing that the priest who was convicted of Susan Kendall's murder is probably innocent, Rouge has a personal as well as professional reason for joining Ali in tracking down Susan's killer before he completes the ritual murder of at least one of the missing girls. In a departure from her popular Kathleen Mallory suspense series (most recently Stone Angel), O'Connell's chilling tale of a murderer who preys on children compensates for a muddled plot with its clear-eyed look at the heights and depths of human behavior. When two remarkable fifth-grade girlsAGwen Hubble, the beautiful daughter of the lieutenant governor, and Sadie Green, an imaginative and plucky child obsessed with horror comics and moviesAare kidnapped from the St. Ursula's Academy, two adults afflicted by their own tragedies are drawn into the investigation. Forensic psychologist Ali Cray draws stares both for her slit skirts and for a disfiguring facial scar, the result of a secret childhood trauma. Policeman Rouge Kendall is haunted by the memory of his twin sister's murder 15 years earlier. The killer was supposedly caught, but similarities between the old murder and the current case make Cray begin to doubt. In the earlier case, the killer used a note from one captured child (the Judas child) to lure a friend; the reader knows that this is again the pattern, just as we knowAor think we knowAwhere the girls are being held. As the investigation continues and the girls attempt to escape, O'Connell introduces vivid minor characters, including a 10-year-old boy almost too shy to speak and one of Cray's ex-lovers, a cop who expresses his thwarted yearning for her through insult contests. O'Connell's prose occasionally veers toward the florid, but the main problem here is a supernatural twist (perhaps a trend? see Firebird above) that leaves readers somewhat adrift. In the end, however, O'Connell's subtle characterization of people who face tragedy with resilience and spirit makes for a moving novel. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • NA(Author)
  • Headline Book Publishing (2012)
  • English
  • 4
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Review Text

  • By Tom Sanders on December 29, 2017

    Be prepared to plumb the depths of human behaviour. This is a very, very dark book. It deals not only with horrific crimes but the additional victims one seldom thinks of...the priests who hear appalling confessions, the counselors who look into the face of horror, the bereavement of loved ones, the crushing effects on investigators. This is not an easy book to read. It is really well written, but I question the ending a bit. Does it make or break the book? I'm not sure, but I'm still glad I read it. Not completely enjoyable, but completely engrossing.

  • By Kathleen Ann Burt on December 25, 2013

    It seems there's an error on the title page, this isn't a novel featuring detective Kathy Mallory. She isn't in it.That said, this one is better than the last Mallory novel, the one set among theater people. There's a scar-faced woman in The Judas Child who's as mysterious as the beautiful Kathy Mallory, but she's not a detective and she's not the protagonist.In my view, this is the best O'Connell novel yet,It opens slowly, in contrast with the Mallory books, giving readers a sense of the pace of life in a small town, yet has the feel of a thriller from the first chapter. We sense the presence of real evil while a policeman goes about his day among the locals, people he knows well, and a young boy with a crush on a girl, follows her on his bicycle. His gut tells him something's very wrong. She and her friend are not where they usually play; her bicycle has been abandoned someplace she wouldn't leave it. The reader suspects the worst before anyone, including the policeman, knows the two girls are missing.By the time the policeman met the scar-faced woman who'd lived in the town when he and his sister were children, and whose family had suddenly, mysteriously moved away, I no longer cared whether or not Detective Mallory would turn up! I was hooked. There was more than one mystery to solve, and I kept reading into the night.The policeman seemed out-of-his league. The case seemed way too complicated for him, but was it? Did everyone underestimate him? Was the new case connected to his sister's murder? I wanted to know how the woman acquired the scar. (I had an idea, but it turned out to be only partially correct and less important to solving the case than I suspected.)If you like psychological thrillers and complicated plots, you'll really enjoy Judas Child.The children are well-developed characters. Readers will be rooting for the plucky little girl struggling to survive with the odds against her.

  • By Lauren Sarno on December 11, 2016

    First, the Amazon notation "A Mallory Novel" is incorrect -- this is a standalone novel. And it's a standout. If you've read the Mallory novels, you'll recognise the unblinking lack of sentimentality in one of the primary characters and the heartbreaking sensitivity of the other. And as usual, the plot doesn't go as you think it will. Even the minor characters are well drawn and the writing is sharp -- almost literally, as it can emotionally cut the reader to the bone. For readers unfamiliar with Carol O'Connell's writing, this is as good a place to start as any. I envy you -- this great book and the entire Mallory series are ahead of you.

  • By Deeny on February 25, 2018

    Way too many characters, with a mostly boring storyline. Characters are not fleshed out at all. Characters just pop up out of nowhere, then are never heard from again. Stilted dialogue. And did I mention boring?I had read some reviews touting this author. I would not read another book by this author, based on this book.

  • By Sandy B on February 15, 2012

    When I got to the end of the Judas Child I closed it and said "Wow!" There are surprises all the way through the book but I never ever saw the ending coming! I also don't want to reveal too much but the characters are so wonderfully drawn. Sadie is feisty and fearless. Her friend Gwen is bright, more quiet but yet has her own unique strength. Rouge is detached and yet haunted by the similarities between the disappearance of Sadie and Gwen and the murder of his twin sister Susan. And then there's Ali who is relentless in her pursuit of an answer to what happened to the two girls. O'Connell presents the story using several points of view. The plot is very well developed and results in an ending that truly shocked me. This is an Excellent read. But don't pick it up and expect to read a little and come back to it later. Once you start reading you won't be able to put it down.

  • By G. on May 24, 2011

    Carol has just become my new all time favorite mystery writer. I cannot beleive how great this book was. The first book I read by Carol was "Bone by Bone" and I absolutely loved it.From the beginning to the end I was captivated by "The Judas Child". The characters had depth, the plot had substance and grit, and the style and tone of Carol's writing was precise.There were many different scenarios and characters in the story, that it was easy to get lost.....if you're not paying attention. This book requires you read attentively, not passively. I have seen the negative reviews and they hold no merit. People zombie their way through life and even a book. There is some resistence to this story that forces you to read actively; it's sad to hear that people couldn't understand or keep up with this book. Put some effort into enjoying some good literature. If you can do that, you will love this book.

  • By Patricia Powers on May 17, 2014

    I have found this series by Carol O'connell just absolutely riveting. I would recommend that if anyone wants to read this book, they should start with the first book written in the Mallory series, as the author builds on characters from the very first. They are written in similarity to books by Elizabeth George, Penny, etc who continue their plots from book to book with the same characters. I get so into them that I am infuriated if one of the characters meets a final ending, it is almost like losing one of the family. I do thinkanyone who likes continuing charactization will enjoy everyone of these books....


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