It is always good to be the star, and in “The Bullet” – Georgetowner Mary Louise Kelly’s new thriller – we are. Along with Caroline Cashion, the book’s heroine, Georgetown itself plays a big role.
In fact, the word ‘Georgetown’ is right there on the front page. Cashion is a (fictional, of course) professor of 19th-century French literature at Georgetown University.
Unlike most professors, Cashion is beautiful and loaded with interesting secrets, the most intriguing being: Why is there a bullet lodged in the back of her neck, a bullet (it gets even better) that she never knew was there?
Unraveling the why and figuring out the who lies at the heart of the book, which includes several familiar settings. Early on, Cashion gets drunk at the Tombs. (I say from experience that she’s among the legions who have done the same thing.) Shortly after, she cops to an obsession with Pâtisserie Poupon’s croissants – she also likes the bacon quiche – and hangs out at Saxby’s on 35th Street.
As the pace picks up, Cashion figures out why she’s carrying a bullet around in her neck. She is attacked at her house on Q Street and runs to the Georgetown University police for help. It turns out she was adopted when she was three years old, and the bullet in her neck is the same bullet that killed her mother. Who killed her parents? Why? She soon realizes that, because the markings on the bullet she’s carrying could identify the killer, she is in danger.
Kelly wrote most of the book while on sabbatical in Florence last year, where her two boys learned to rattle off Italian slang and honed their soccer skills. Now she’s back home in Georgetown. It is nice to think of her staring out at the dry hills above Florence while thinking about the coffee at Saxby’s. Now she’s probably sitting at Saxby’s thinking about the caffè latte at her favorite place in Florence.