Tag Archives: patricia cornwell

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!

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.

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.

blowfly

Blowfly (Kay Scarpetta #12) by Patricia Cornwell.

From Goodreads:

In Blow Fly, Kay Scarpetta stands at the threshold of a new life after her work as Virginia’s Chief Medical Examiner has come to a jarring end. At the close of The Last Precinct, she knew she would have to leave Richmond if she were to find any peace. She feared that she was about to be fired by the governor. More alarming, she was hounded in the media and in the courtroom, for what some claimed was her involvement in the murder of a deputy police chief. So Scarpetta packed up her belongings and set out for the warmth and solace of the Florida sun.

She is settling into a new life as a private forensic consultant and is deep into a case that has left colleagues in Louisiana profoundly disturbed. A woman is found dead in a seedy hotel, dressed to go out, keys in her hand. Her history of blackouts, and her violent outbursts while under their spell, offer more questions than clues about the cause of her death. Then Scarpetta receives news that chills her to the core: Jean-Baptiste Chandonne – the vicious and unrepentant Wolfman, who pursued her to her very doorstep – asks to see her. From his cell on death row, he demands an audience with the legendary Dr. Scarpetta. Only to her will he tell the secrets he knows the authorities desire: the evidence that will bring a global investigation to a swift conclusion. Scarpetta, her niece Lucy, and her colleague Detective Pete Marino are left to wonder: After all the death and destruction, what sort of endgame could this violent psychopath have in mind? And could this request be somehow related to the Louisiana case?

Her friends and family by her side, Scarpetta must unravel a twisting conspiracy with an international reach and confront theshock of her life – a blow that will force her to question the loyalty and trust of all she holds dear.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

At times this was a really well written and very entertaining story but then there were sections that defied understanding and seemed written by a completely different author. One stand out example is the aftermath of the Polish hotel scene and Lucy’s correction of her mistake. First of all Lucy doesn’t make mistakes and then her reaction and correction is completely out of character.

The return of an old character isn’t new in fiction writing but how it’s dealt with in this story is quite bizarre, the change in character and demeanour and the depiction of his master plan is clunky and jumps all over the place creating confusion for the reader.

On the positive side I was pleased to see Marino and Lucy take centre stage for most of this story. Kay is brought in and out, sometimes in random and confusing ways, but other characters are given much more attention. It was also good to see some of the story from the point of view of the bad guy but I would like to have seen the Bev and Jay relationship given more attention.

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.

My rating is 3🌟 but it could easily have been a 2. I’ll probably read book #13 but I don’t think I’ll be in a rush.

black notice

Kay Scarpetta Series #10 by Patricia Cornwell.

From Goodreads:

An intriguing Dr Kay Scarpetta novel which will take Kay an ocean’s breadth away from home. The case begins when a cargo ship arriving at Richmond, Virginia’s Deep Water Terminal from Belgium is discovered to be transporting a locked, sealed container holding the decomposed remains of a stowaway. The post mortem performed by the Chief Medical Examiner, Kay Scarpetta, initially reveals neither a cause of death nor an identification. But the victim’s personal effects and an odd tattoo take Scarpetta on a hunt for information that leads to Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon, where she receives critical instructions: go to the Paris morgue to receive secret evidence and then return to Virginia to carry out a mission. It is a mission that could ruin her career. In a story which crosses international borders, BLACK NOTICE puts Dr Kay Scarpetta directly in harm’s way and places her and those she holds dear at mortal risk.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

I really like the character of Kay Scarpetta and many of the associated characters such as Lucy and Marino. I also really like the style of Patricia Cornwell’s writing.

The story this time is just OK. The plot behind it is solid but it skips around an awful lot and doesn’t really get deep into the potential of the new characters – police officer Bray or the new rookie Anderson in particular. I also found the handling of her relationship with Tally pretty bizarre.

Add that there is very little further development of the main characters and I can’t help but wonder what the point of this instalment is? I guess that’s to be expected after 10 books based on the same character.

My favourite thing about this series is that the main character is female and so is the author. I don’t read many female centric books so this is interesting for more than just the story.

If I gave half stars this would definitely be 3.5 but I don’t so I’ve given it the benefit of the doubt and gone for 4.