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Judas Child

4.6 out of 5 stars 127 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

The protagonists of Judas Child are direct literary descendants of Mallory, the author's earlier creation; like her, their childhood suffering illuminates their adult character and motivation. But while Mallory can only react to the past, Rouge and Ali find in each other a mirror that lights up the dark corners of their past and frees them of the survivor guilt both suffer. O'Connell's same penetrating psychological insight animates the novel's other characters: Dr. Mortimer Cray, Ali's uncle, a psychiatrist who bears the awful burden of knowing who the killer is but is constrained by professional ethics from revealing it; gutsy, clever Sadie Green, the Judas child of the title, and her irritating, annoying, desperate mother, Becca; FBI agent Arnie Pyle, who's dying to know how Ali got her scar; and Father Paul Marie, jailed for 15 years for a crime he may not have committed. The opening sentence grabs the reader, and doesn't let go till the last page. In her skilled rendering of psychological suspense, O'Connell is on a par with Barbara Vine and Frances Fyfield; like Jonathan Kellerman, she is also an astute observer of children, especially those who survive the most terrifying youthful traumas and betrayals. Judas Child may be O'Connell's "breakout" book, and it will surely send readers who've just discovered her in search of her backlist while they await her next one. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Bookcassette; Mut edition (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561007978
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561007974
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.3 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,506,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an intensely gripping, suspenseful, tautly written, psychological thriller. The author, a master storyteller, weaves a compelling tapestry of events, as well as a complex plot in which history seems to repeat itself.
Several days before Christmas, in a small, bucolic, tightly knit town, two ten year old girls, best friends, Sadie Green and Gwen Hubble, suddenly disappear. One of the local cops, Rouge Kendall, becomes involved in the investigation and manhunt that ensues. The case calls to mind his own brush with a madman, when fifteen years earlier his own ten year old, twin sister, Susan, had likewise been abducted. She was found murdered on Christmas Day, and his family never fully recovered from the blow they were dealt by Susan's untimely and grisly death. A local priest, Father Paul Marie, was arrested for Susan's abduction and murder, tried, and convicted.
Enter Ali Cray, a former classmate of Rouge and Susan, who is now a forensic psychologist. Facially disfigured, she carries with her emotional baggage from her past. Yet, she is determined to make sure that justice is done in this case. She has a theory of the case about which she feels strongly. She believes that one of the girls functioned as a Judas child, a secondary target who is used as bait to lure the primary target into a trap. She also believes that Susan Kendall's fifteen year old abduction and murder and the current abductions are linked, notwithstanding the fact that Paul Marie is incarcerated at the time of Sadie's and Gwen's apparent abduction. Should Ali Cray be proven correct in her theory, an innocent man has been paying for the crimes of another all this time.
The author serves up a brilliant narrative, imbuing the two abducted girls with personalities that hook the viewers.
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Format: Hardcover
I had never read Carol O'Connell before and Judas Child was recommended to me by an American friend.
From the opening chapter of the man lurking in the lane I was hooked. The characterisation is stunning, especially Sadie and Rouge - I fell in love with both. The novels builds and becomes more complex just as you think you know what is going to happen. The characters change and develop - just as in real life no one is as they first appear and everyone is portrayed in their different and various shades.
The passages on the two girls are full of bravery and truth and are heartbreaking too - even thought they are best friends one knows they would put their own survival first.
The ending is pheonomenal - I did not see it coming and I found it heartbreaking yet uplifting at the same time. I now cannot wait to read all Ms O'Connell's other books.
Judas Child is simply the most imaginative and stirring novel I have read in a very long time. I have rarely felt so excited about a book and recommend it to everyone.
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By A Customer on June 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is the first book by Carol O'Connell that I read and if her other books are only half as good, everyone will well be worth reading. "Judas Child" had me gripped from the very first page. Due to circumstances I had to read this in little installments over about a week but everytime I opened the book it took only a few sentences and I was inside the story again. I had to be very careful when reading because time just flew by. This must be one of the best mysteries I ever read. Up until now I had that pedestal reserved for Elizabeth George and Minette Walters, but Carol O'Connell is definitely up there as well.
Just before christmas two children disappear from a small town. At first they are believed to be runaways, but soon this disappearance is tied to a crime that shocked the town fifteen years ago. A man had been convicted, but was it the right one ? A mad hunt for the children starts that involves many parties. Meanwhile the two children are trying to survive in a nightmare environment.
The story twists and turns while always keeping your interest. Strong main characters, interesting secondary characters. The children are smart, but not too clever. Everything seems believable. And when the crime is solved, Ms O'Connell has another surprise in stock that threw me off completely. One last twists that beats them all. Absolutely fabulous !
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Remorse, loss and survivor-guilt activate this fine novel. Though the basic plot is familiar: an unknown predator is stalking, planning, and killing----nothing prepares even the most jaded reader for what follows.
Fifteen years ago, 10-year old Susan Kendall was callously murdered leaving her family who include her twin brother Rouge, devastated with grief. When two local ten-year old girls go missing, it looks like history is repeating itself. The modus operendi seems to be that the second child (the Judas Child) is tricked into luring the first child (the princess child) to a rendezvous where the killer summarily disposes Child #2 and keeps the Princess alive until such time as would cause the parents, family and friends the maximum grief. (Usually Christmas Day)
Ms. O'Connell captures the two little girls Sadie and Gwen brilliantly. Sadie is everything we would have always wanted as a childhood best friend: fearless, inventive, a trickster of the first order, intensely loyal and an expert on every horror film ever made. Gwen is a highly intelligent, sensitive, very sheltered little girl who is not near the coward she thinks she is.
The adult characters are each so sharply drawn; any one of them could be considered the protagonist. Rouge Kendall, in his detachment, almost appears Christ-like. The sensuous, horribly scarred Ali is a driven dynamo (Question: is wearing a long slit skirt, barelegged with very high heels in the winter time really sexy? I kept thinking how breezy this type of getup would be and wouldn't her feet hurt?) Dr. Mortimer is so bound in his rigid ethics, is he insane? The wrongly convicted priest is a symphony in complicated disbelief, and the FBI agent, Arnie, has so many facets, he is a kaleidoscope.
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