by Patricia Cornwell
Read: June 26 – July 5, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012; Off the Shelf 2012
Yearly Count: 17
Source: Personal Copy
Blurb: Leaving behind her private forensic pathology practice in Charleston, South Carolina, Kay Scarpetta takes an assignment in New York City, where an injured patient in Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric prison ward has specifically asked for her. While Scarpetta examines him, she listens to one of the most bizarre stories she has ever heard.
Oscar Bane says his injuries were sustained in the course of a murder … that he did not commit. Is Bane a criminally insane stalker who has fixated on Scarpetta? Or is his paranoid tale true, and it is he who is being spied on, followed, and stalked by the actual killer? The one thing Scarpetta knows for certain is that a woman has been tortured and murdered – and more violent deaths will occur…
In the days that follow, Scarpetta, her forensic psychologist husband, Benton Wesley, and her niece, Lucy, who has recently formed her own forensic computer investigation firm in New York, will undertake a harrowing chase through cyberspace and the all-too-real streets of the city. It is an odyssey that will take them at once to places they never knew but also much, much too close to home.
Review: Okay, here’s the deal: In 2010 I went kind of bonkers and read the first 15 Scarpetta books pretty much back to back. I got burned out. Big time. In fact, I wrote a pretty negative review of the 15th book in the series, Book of the Dead. I made it relatively clear that I was burned out in that review and that I was not impressed with where this series was going. Fast forward a year and a half later and I decided to pick up book 16, Scarpetta. It was more curiosity than anything. I remembered perfectly clearly that I was unimpressed by the previous book and that I was especially ticked off with the direction the character development was going in. Oh and the fact that Dr. Scarpetta could not stay put – she was constantly moving, two new cities in two books! For me to remember that clearly so long after reading it why I hated that book speaks volumes – I must have really not liked it. However, I was determined to give her one more shot (two actually, since I’ve still got The Scarpetta Factor on my shelf).
So what do I have to say about this book? Well, it read pretty quickly for me – and when you have a 5 week old baby in the house and you are able to read “quickly” it must not be too bad of a book.
First I want to discuss the characters. I still am not impressed with Pete Marino and how Scarpetta handled (or rather, pretty much chose to ignore) the situation that occurred between the two of them in the previous book. I knew she would forgive him when she really should not have even considered such a thing. Lucy wasn’t nearly as obnoxious in this book and I think Benton is going to start coming around (hopefully) in his relationship with Kay. The supporting characters were good in this book. Jaime Berger was pretty prominent in this book (it is set in NYC, which is where Berger has always been) and I’m confident she will figure prominently in the future books as well.
The storyline was interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where dwarfism played a part in the plot. That was kind of interesting. I was also impressed with the who-dun-it part. When the blurb says things hit too close to home, well that is spot on accurate in this case. The who-dun-it part was a surprise to me, I couldn’t believe how it ended up unfolding in the end. I will say that I was a little disappointed in the overall ending. When you’ve got a 500+ page book, I kind of feel that the ending sometimes needs more than 5 pages. I know there has to be some kind of a happy medium between too drawn out and too rapid, but this particular ending was lacking a little bit in my opinion. However, I will say that everything was wrapped up relatively nicely – I didn’t think it had too much of a cookie-cutter feeling, but questions were answered at the end.
So what is my overall opinion of this book? I enjoyed it. I’m not entirely sure I’m back on board with this series yet, though. I think I will take it one book at a time. I also think that having such a long break since reading the previous book helped my opinion of this one. I went into it with a more open mind, rather than still being irritated from the last installment. Without a doubt, the early Scarpetta books are wonderful, but this one wasn’t too shabby in my opinion. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I would highly recommend this book, but I wouldn’t discourage people from giving it a shot (if they’ve read all the previous books and have become burned out like I did).