Mallory's Oracle -- Carol O'Connell

At first, it seemed too... deliberately arty and deep, maybe?  The character of Mallory seemed like such a cliche--an emotionally closed-off woman that had grown up on the street, terrifying yet amazingly beautiful.  I kept waiting for the love-interest to appear and unlock her carefully hidden weaknesses, blah blah blah.  But it never happened.  So I just kept liking her more and more, even though I never got to know her very well.  And it wasn't just her--this book is chock-full of great characters.  One of the cops, Riker, was a favorite:

He turned to his sergeant, who was looking down at his own scruffy shoes.

"How did she get it out, Riker?"

"So you think it was Mallory?"

"Cut the crap."

Riker said he never saw her take down the cork, and he hadn't.  But he never mentioned that he had walked behind her through the department, past twelve occupied desks at the top of a shift, down the corridor packed with uniforms, and past the garage security guard, as she carried a long, thick roll of cork under one arm and a desk blotter under the other, with a calender wadded in her purse and God knows what else.  It was a big purse.  But she had not been able to manage all that and the Xerox machine, too.  Riker had carried that out for her so she wouldn't have to make two trips.

The mystery also includes a bunch of old ladies that know that the old-lady serial killer is specifically targeting their seance group--do they go to the police, quaking with fear?  No.  They don't even tell the cops.  They love the excitement and treat it as a bracing game of russian roulette. 

It took me until about page 45, but I ended up loving this book--and I'm really excited to read the rest of the books in the series.