Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell – Book Review


After performing an autopsy on executed prisoner Ronnie Waddell, his prints are discovered at a crime scene. Of course a dead man could not have committed this crime, so Scarpetta must work with Detective Pete Marino and FBI Agent Benton Wesley to try to figure out how on earth this can have taken place. There are betrayals, challenges and misleading paths.

I went looking for other reviews of this novel just out of interest and have found that many people mention it is their least favourite of the Scarpetta novels. That’s quite interesting – I thought that the concept that Scarpetta did not know who to trust was good, although I guess it was not the most interesting way to do it. I liked the idea of the wrong man being executed, and when the whole scenario was revealed, I hadn’t guess much of it at all. Having said that, I did put the book down for days at a time, and was hesitant about picking it up, so perhaps it hadn’t fully engaged me.

The other thing it did which I didn’t totally love was that there was a large skip in time between this and the previous book, and there was a major event which was not explained until the end. I felt somewhat resentful about this.  I wanted to know what happened because I was enduring Scarpetta’s response to it.

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