VJ Books Blog

(examiner.com, Dec. 2, Michelle Kerns)

Bestselling author Patricia Cornwell‘s latest addition to her wildly popular Kay Scarpetta series, Scarpetta, goes on sale today, December 2nd, and boy, is it a doozy.

It’s been a year since we’ve seen Dr.Kay Scarpetta in action, and many of us Cornwell followers would rather forget our last encounter with Kay and her long time sidekick Pete Marino who broke the hearts of fans as well as the trust of many when he attempted to assault Kay in the 15th book of the series, The Book of the Dead.

Cornwell shows us that, despite the strangest circumstances, life, love — and crime — go on.

While Scarpetta focuses on the brutal murder of Terri Bridges, a young woman with achrondroplasia (dwarfism), the intense backdrop of the story is all about the relationships of the characters Cornwell fans have come to know and love over the years: Kay and Benton Wesley; Lucy and Jaime Berger; Benton and Marino; Kay and Marino; Berger and Marino.

While the group struggles to make sense of the Terri Bridges’ murder and to separate fact from fiction in a case where Kay herself has been impersonated, the tension between them all as they deal with their feelings for one another — particularly Kay and Benton, who is still reeling from Kay’s assault — and their reaction to Marino is palpable.

The crime involves what appears to be an intense sexual assault, and the scene in which Kay and Marino examine the victim’s bedroom — the first time the two have been alone together since the incident between them the previous spring — is as compulsively readable as it is uncomfortable for the characters.

Scarpetta is a turning point in the Kay Scarpetta series — each character is entering into a new phase of their lives: Lucy and Berger into a possible relationship; Marino into reluctant but repentant sobriety; Kay and Benton into the trials and contentments of married life. However, the other elements that have made all of Patricia Cornwell’s books fresh and compelling are still there and still as riveting as ever.

Cutting edge forensic technology has always been one of the most fascinating elements of the Scarpetta books and forensic computing as well as neural networking (a la Lucy, computer maven) plays a starring role in Scarpetta. Cornwell also introduces the use of the large Chamber Scanning Electron Microscope when searching for trace evidence on a chair believed to have been used in the crime.

Subtly nuanced minor characters have also been a hallmark of the Scarpetta series (actually in all of Cornwell’s books, including her newest, the Win Garano series) and in Scarpetta readers are introduced to Oscar Bane, the victim’s boyfriend who is convinced he is being spied on by the true killer; and the Shrew, a lonely and somewhat neurotic woman living across the street from where Terri Bridges was killed.

Patricia Cornwell broke new ground in crime fiction with her creation of Dr. Scarpetta in Postmortem, first published in 1990. With Scarpetta, Cornwell gives her fans another thought-provoking and suspenseful addition to this fantastic series.
See Patricia Cornwell‘s titles at www.vjbooks.com!