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Kay Scarpetta, Medical Examiner, finds herself drawn into another bizarre murder case. Oscar Bane is the main suspect, but has willingly admitted himself into a New York physciatric hospital- the Bellevue, which just happens to be run by Benton Wesley, Scarpettas husband. So I suppose it comes as no surprise (at least to the reader) when he has asks to be examined solely by Scarpetta. Why? The murder victim is his girlfriend, he strongly protests his innocence, in fact claims to have fought with the unknown assailant and believes Scarpetta is the only person who can help him. But is Oscar just completely nuts? With his claim that his every move has been watched and monitored for months he certainly comes accross a little strange and when his injuries appear self inflicted, it begins to look like an easily solvable case.
Of course, in true Scarpetta style, this is just one of many problems waiting to fall upon our heroine. A rather vicious and popular internet gossip column - The Gotham Gotcha - has taken a sudden dislike to her and posts some vindictive and very personal news about her, including the incident with Marino, her once trusted side kick. (Sorry to be so cryptic, I don't want to spoil anything!) It seems the owner of Gotham
Gotcha seems to know a lot about her, but they have gone to extreme lengths to cover their identity. So who can it be?
I like the way the whole thing knitted together, but I had guessed the murderer a fair while before the end and I'm not really one of those readers who tries to work it out, I usually just like to get lost in the book. One thing I haven't mentioned so far is that the victim and the accused are both little people. I really couldn't understand the big reason behind Cornwell making an issue of this and at first I thought it was angling towards them both having anxiety issues because of their size which seemed a bit off. Although when it came to looking into how the murder had been committed and at what angle the murderer would have needed I could see why it affected the story.
The previous novel, 'Book of the Dead ' was quite a disappointment for me (and many other fans it seems). The plot line was scary and gruesome enough, but lacked something I just can't explain, I think there was far too much said from the perspective of the murderer, which ended up feeling like 'filler' for the book. Also the characters who have grown throughout the history of the novels all seemed depressed or angry and had at least one problem each! Cornwell definitely isn't scared of taking a dark turn or twist and suprising us with her characters, but for them all to take a downward turn in the same novel was too depressing.
In Scarpetta, they do seem to be making a bit more effort! Lucy is a lot less moody, Scarpetta a little less cold and Marino? Well for those of you who read the last book, I'm glad to say Marino has dropped the trashy women and seems to be making a return to his old self.
My problems with it are just that though, it's nice to see them getting back on track, but although the previous problems are refferred to, quite a lot in some cases, they are not resolved or even mentioned between the characters and these are serious issues. For a group who are quite fiery and outspoken, I was expecting (and wanted) a good argument.
Also, the 'tech talk' is still a bit too much for me. We all know each character is amazingly brilliant in their field, but please, I don't need to be bored with all the details (or made to feel stupid!) I understand it helps to have an explanation of how Lucy managed to hack into someones computer and unscramble a million deleted files, but can I have it in a condensed, simpleton version please?
Yes, Scarpetta fans will be happy that the characters are a little more like themselves and first time readers shouldn't be too lost with the few past references. Although, since getting hooked on my first Scarpetta novel many years ago, I must say that there are quite a few authors I now prefer.
I've very kindly given it a 4 star rating, although I would prefer 3.5.
After covering the writing feature articles and covering the police beat for the Charlotte Observer, she worked for the Chief Medical Examiners Office in Richmond, Virginia which is where Kay Scarpetta starts out in this series of novels, although Cornwell wasn't actually Chief Medical Examiner herself. Her first Scarpetta novel Postmortem was published in 1990, Scarpetta is the sixteenth in the award winning series. As well as this collection she has also created two other fictional series, written two cookbooks, a childrens book, her own findings on who Jack the Ripper actually was, a biography of Mrs Billy Graham and has also co-written and co-produced a movie - ATF. Busy lady.
Released 2nd December 2008 by Little, Brown.
Available at Amazon for £8 (at time of posting- 9/12/08)
For info on this book and all the others by Patricia Cornwell, visit www.patriciacornwell.com.