Monday, March 25, 2013

Scarpetta - Patricia Cornwell (TBR Challenge)

Leaving behind her private forensic pathology practice in Charleston, South Carolina, Kay Scarpetta accepts an assignment in New York City, where the NYPD has asked her to examine an injured man on Bellevue Hospital's psychiatric prison ward. The handcuffed and chained patient, Oscar Bane, has  specifically asked for her, and when she literally has her gloved hands on him, he begins to talkand the story he has to tell turns out to be one of the most bizarre she has ever heard.
The injuries, he says, were sustained in the course of a murder . . . that he did not commit. Is Bane a criminally insane stalker who has fixed 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 follow. Gradually, an inexplicable and horrifying truth emerges: Whoever is committing the crimes knows where his prey is at all times. Is it a person, a government? And what is the connection between the victims?
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 an odyssey that will take them at once to places they never knew, and much, much too close to home.

I'm late with my TBR Challenge post for March but since I finally finished reading it I thought I would post my review anyway. For March the goal was to catch up on a series and when I was listing the series I was behind on I immediately thought that Cornwell's Scarpetta series was the one I wanted to go back to.

I loved the first books in this series but have been less enthused with the latest ones. Going back to the series after three years I knew some of the details would be a bit fuzzy but I was hoping that maybe time would make me appreciate it more.

Sadly I did have a lot of problems with this book. I was looking forward to it when I started it but I found the characters wooden and uninteresting. It was like Scarpetta had lost her depth, Benton felt a bit like a different person and I never got how their new relationship works. I did like the Marino we meet here, Cornwell seems to be redeeming him but I'm still wondering why she destroyed him as a character in the first place. Lucy seems to be doing ok although I definitely would like to know more about her and what's going on with her. To be honest I felt that with all the main characters, we don't know enough about them to understand them and I just didn't feel I was revising the characters I knew. Considering what happened in past books I was expecting more tension when they all met and ended up feeling like they all avoided the white elephant in the room.

Regarding the mystery plot I spent the first half of the story forcing myself to continue because I wasn't feeling very interested in Oscar and his story. I also found it odd that at some point he disappears from the story and we don't know anything more about him till the end. Things got a bit better towards the end when we actually realise what's been going on. I did miss the time Scarpetta used to spend in the morgue, here it felt she spent most of her time dealing with suspects or visiting crime scenes.

I have been thinking whether I want to continue this series or not. After all it did take me three years to pick it up again. I think I probably will because I can’t resist seeing if I’ll like the next one more (and I do want to like them) but maybe it will take me another three years to pick it up…

Grade: 3/5


  1. I remember liking this one better than some of the previous entries before it - but yeah, I think I may have graded it around a C? For me, I was mostly in it for Marino. I was so happy to see that Cornwell was done screwing around with his characterization - and I really liked him in this book.

  2. Wendy, have you read the next one? I'm wondering if Marino will continue as he was here and if the issues between him and Kay/Lucy are ever addressed.

  3. Ana: The next book is actually the last one I read before the series and I "broke up." I had a lot of issues with it - but none of them were Marino's fault. Cornwell definitely was putting him back on the path to at least being a good cop again. That was actually my biggest gripe with her as far as his character. Not so much that he ran completely off the rails, but because when he did so he just stopped being a good cop. It grated.

    1. Hmm now I'm wondering if I should pick it up... I do like Marino a lot when he is a good cop. What made you part ways with scarpetta Wendy?

    2. Ultimately the writing. I found the next book to be unfocussed and poorly constructed. Half the time I couldn't figure out what was going on, or why I should care. It was a real slog for me, which pretty much signaled (after YEARS of denial) that I had to finally let go....

  4. I found this book terrible, gory, and plodding. I used to love Kay Scarpetta, but personally, reading this book told me I needed to move on from this series.

  5. nishitak,
    Thanks for stopping by. I haven't decided yet if I will continue... it seems I spend more and more time criticising theses books but a part of me is still curious about what will happen next...


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