Tag Archives: murder

book of the dead

Book of the Dead (Kay Scarpetta #15) by Patricia Cornwell

From Goodreads:

Soon after relocating to Charleston, S.C., to launch a private forensics lab, Scarpetta is asked to consult on the murder of U.S. tennis star Drew Martin, whose mutilated body was found in Rome. Contradictory evidence leaves Scarpetta, the Italian carabinieri and Scarpetta’s lover, forensic psychologist Benton Wesley, stumped.

But when she discovers unsettling connections between Martin’s murder, the body of an unidentified South Carolina boy and her old nemesis, the maniacal psychiatrist Dr. Marilyn Self, Scarpetta encounters a killer as deadly as any she’s ever faced.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I kind of downloaded this by mistake and then read it against my own better judgement. However, it ended up being better than I expected. Maybe I had low expectations though?

This book is kind of a return to the style of writing that made Cornwell’s earlier Scarpetta stories interesting but not quite to the same level. Kay is marginally better, Lucy is a lot better and more mature, Benton is unrecognisable from his early days and Marino has become a complete asshole. Dr. Self was the most interesting character as well as Rambo, the killer.

Not the best but certainly not the worst. Hardly a ringing endorsement but it’s the best I have!

deja dead

Deja Dead (Temperance Brennan #1) by Kathy Reichs

From Goodreads:

Her life is devoted to justice; for those she never even knew. In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Temperance detects an alarming pattern and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her, her best friend and her own daughter, in mortal danger…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This was a good book but I found it hard to get into. Nothing much seemed to be happening for the first half/two thirds of the story but it did definitely pick up towards the finish. The story skips around quite a bit which makes it a difficult one to read in small chunks and the style also doesn’t lend itself to reading one chapter at a time. The introduction of a lot of unfamiliar Canadian police and political organisations and acronyms compounded this.

My other issue was the unavoidable comparisons to Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. I had read a few of this Temperance Brennan series a number of years ago and found them quite good and when I went back looking for them found Kay Scarpetta instead. That was unfortunate as Temperance Brennan is a much better series as far as I remember.

Temperance is also a much better character and despite some annoying personality characteristics is very likeable. Then there is the permanently pissed off and dismissive Claudel and the smoldering relationship with Ryan. The development of the murderer and the building of the case against him is well done.

I’m expecting to enjoy the rest of the series and possibly consign Kay Scarpetta to the bin once and for all.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

ritual

Ritual (Jack Caffrey #3, The Walking Man #1, Flea Marley #1) by Mo Hayder

From Goodreads:

Nine feet under water, police diver Flea Marley closes her gloved fingers around a human hand. The fact that there’s no body attached is disturbing enough—until the discovery of the matching appendage a day later. Both hands have been freshly amputated, and there are indications that the victim was still alive when they were removed.

Newly seconded to the Major Crime Investigation Unit in Bristol, DI Jack Caffery soon establishes that the hands belong to a young man who has recently disappeared. As Caffery and Marley search for the rest of the victim—and for his abductor—they journey into the darkest recesses of Bristol’s underworld, where drug addiction is rife, street kids sell themselves for a hit, and a disturbing occult ritual may be making an unexpected appearance.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

One of the very best books I’ve read in a long time! The author has taken her familiar character and turned him upside down by moving him out of London and into a new city in Bristol. He hasn’t managed to leave all his baggage behind though so he hasn’t changed completely.

Two new characters have been introduced. One is the very complicated Walking Man who has only been touched upon in this story and with this book being sub-titled as the first installment of “The Walking Man” series we will get to know him better in the future.

The second is Flea Marley and she is as important and central a character as Jack. Another complicated character with a messy background story and again someone we will be meeting again. In an interview with the author she described how she had intended to leave Jack Caffrey aside and develop Flea as a character with her own series but was drawn to bring Jack and her together in the one story. It’s a fantastic result.

All that and then you add in gruesome murders, African occult and a host of other really well written minor characters and it was a story I could hardly put down.

predator

Predator (Kay Scarpetta #14) by Patricia Cornwell

From Goodreads:

Scarpetta, now freelancing with the National Forensic Academy in Florida, digs into a case more bizarre than any she has ever faced, one that has produced not only unusual physical evidence, but also tantalizing clues about the inner workings of an extremely cunning and criminal mind.

She and her team — Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, and her niece, Lucy — track the odd connections between several horrific crimes and the people who are the likely suspects. As one psychopath, safely behind bars and the subject of a classified scientific study at a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital, teases Scarpetta with tips that could be fact — or fantasy — the number of killers on the loose seems to multiply. Are these events related or merely random? And what can the study of one man’s brain tell them about the methods of a psychopath still lurking in the shadows?

My Rating: ⭐ ⭐

I can’t say I hated this book but I really did dislike a lot about it. Once again it feels badly written. The story has a lot of promise to it, the concept is really good and the killer’s true nature is a good reveal at the end but the author simply develops it badly.

The story starts with a big jump from where the last one left off and there’s no explanation how everyone got to where they did. Marino has turned back into a hateful arsehole and Lucy is off the rails. At least Lucy’s behaviour is explained but that just creates another melodramatic showdown between Kay and Benson that fizzles out before being ignored.

There’s a good buildup in the third quarter of the book that feels like it’s finally going to be a good story but then too much happens too quickly and too many reveals happen too easily with no explanation. With the way Basil’s story was chopped off at the end I’m really struggling to understand the point of his character at all. All the scenes between himself and Benton are simply a waste of the reader’s time.

Some of the investigative sections, particularly with Kay, are really well written and I wish the author would go back to that and forget all the other stuff that she doesn’t seem to be particularly good at.

In my review of Blow Fly #12 I said the following and it pretty much applies here too:

The ending though is terrible! Another reviewer described it as if the author had to go home early and asked her secretary to finish it off for her which is exactly what it feels like – rushed and incomplete and completely unfulfilling.

I have a feeling this may be the end of the road for me with this series.

the treatment

The Treatment (Jack Caffrey #2) by Mo Hayder

From Goodreads:

Midsummer, and in an unassuming house on a quiet residential street on the edge of Brockwell Park in south London, a husband and wife are discovered. Badly dehydrated, they’ve been bound and beaten, the husband is close to death. But worse is to come: their young son is missing.

When DI Jack Caffery of the Met’s AMIT squad is called in to investigate, the similarities to events in his own past make it impossible for him to view this new crime with the necessary detachment. And as Jack digs deeper, as he attempts to hold his own life together in the face of ever more disturbing revelations about both the past and the present, the real nightmare begins…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is an excellent book. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is that it takes a little while to develop momentum but it definitely rocks along when it does!

This is no easy reader though, it’s very, very dark and right to the very end. Jack Caffrey himself is carrying a huge amount of mental baggage and is on the verge of a mental breakdown for most of the book. Pretty much everyone in this book is either going through intense mental and physical stress or is causing it through sheer evil.

The storyline is horrific in a lot of the subject matter it covers (murder, rape, child abduction, torture, paedophilia) and the style of writing pushes the book close to the horror genre as opposed to simply a thriller. In fact Benedicte’s story reminded me quite a lot of Stephen King’s “Cujo” with the mother and child trapped in the car.

The way the author constructs this story makes it very fast paced. The story is being told from 3-4 different aspects as it charges to a conclusion from about the middle of the book. Despite the very difficult subject matter I found it very difficult to put down and would easily rate it as one of the best I’ve read for quite a while. It won’t be for everyone though!

final judgement

Final Judgement (Lou Mason #5) by Joel Goodman

From Amazon:

A little bit of luck is better than a ton of gold. But when Avery Fish found a headless dead man wrapped in plastic in the trunk of his Cadillac, he needed more than a little luck. Much more. He needed Lou Mason.

Fish may be a con man but Mason has to prove he’s not a murderer. To save Fish, he teams up with a woman from his past, now an FBI agent with a hidden agenda of her own.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Best way to describe this book is “forgettable”. In fact I finished it just over a week ago and had to read some reviews and summaries to remind myself what happened!

The author writes well. He has created a couple of good central characters that are interesting and likeable. However, in this book he then throws in a host of other characters and messes with the central characters so that you get a very superficial and confusing mix of people that are difficult to keep a handle on.

The reappearance of Kelly was a bit unexpected but her character has changed considerably and not in a good way. Can’t help but feel that he would have been better with a completely new character instead.

I also didn’t like how the author handled Lou’s relationship with Abby. I don’t know why I didn’t like it but I think it just didn’t feel believable. The way it played out didn’t really suit either of their personalities.

I kept at this book as it was good enough to keep going and I did want to see how it ended. I’ve seen others criticise the ending but it couldn’t really go any other way to be fair. Overall I’ve liked the Lou Mason character and the author’s style of writing. I think I’ll give some of his other series a go too.

trace

Trace (Kay Scarpetta #13) by Patricia Cornwell

From Goodreads:

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, now freelancing from South Florida, returns to the city that turned its back on her five years ago. Richmond, Virginia’s recently appointed chief medical examiner claims that he needs Scarpetta’s help to solve a perplexing crime. When she arrives, however, Scarpetta finds that nothing is as she expected: Her former lab is in the final stages of demolition; the inept chief isn’t the one who requested her after all; her old assistant chief has developed personal problems that he won’t reveal; and a glamorous FBI agent, whom Scarpetta dislikes instantly, meddles with the case.

Deprived of assistance from colleagues Benton and Lucy, who are embroiled in what appears to be an unrelated attempted rape by a stalker, Scarpetta is faced with investigating the death of a fourteen-year-old girl, working with the smallest pieces of evidence — traces that only the most thorough hunters can identify. She must follow the twisting leads and track the strange details in order to make the dead speak — and to reveal the sad truth that may be more than even she can bear …

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Half this book is very good but the other half is very poor. First of all it was great to see a return of Kay and Marino as investigative partners. In a twist from the norm Kay is investigative only, more like a detective than a medical examiner, as she returns to Virginia with barely any access to postmortem exams. Marino is also back as a leaner, healthier and mentally stronger detective without a badge. It was great to mostly get away from Kay’s relationship with Benton and the constant, depressing angst of earlier books and to focus on catching the bad guy. This element of the story was really interesting and the quality of the writing high carrying me right through to the end before I knew what was happening.

The second story was based around the inexplicable collapse of Lucy, her disastrous relationship with a new nutcase girlfriend and Benton’s attempt to solve an attack on her. The two stories were tied together with the same perpetrator but the Lucy element was badly written, boring and frankly unnecessary. It would have been a much better book if it had stuck with Kay and Marino.

I’ll probably keep going with this series as there does still seem to be the odd good book in there yet but I have a feeling it has almost run its course for me.