I feel like the Scarpetta series may be close to jumping the shark at this stage. Scarpetta has moved to Florida and is working as a consultant, but gets involved in cases that drag her back to the whole Chandonne plotline that was wearing seriously thin in the last book. Plus now Lucy is going a bit rogue, or more so.
I’m taking a bit of a break from Scarpetta, though I’m sure I’ll get back to them eventually. I can only hope that the next one drags me back in.
With Chandonne in custody, Scarpetta is still trying to connect him to other murders, however there are inconsistencies, and she needs to work with others to try ensure there is a conviction.
I’m starting to get a bit sick of the Chandonne plotline. I know it needs to get to a conclusion, and there were some pretty big twists toward the end, but yet it continues.
While Scarpetta deals with her grief, she is dealing with a series of horrific murders which feature the same wild injuries having been inflicted, and mysterious, long white hairs that appear to be human. The first is found in a container from Belgium, and so the investigation takes them to Paris where she and Marino find themselves working with Interpol office Jay Talley. But things get confusing, as they believe they have identified the killer, but can’t find him, and are worried about more deaths
This killer is awful, Scarpetta is not functioning at her own usual high standards. None-the-less, things seem to be moving forward until things get pretty intense, leading to a massive show-down at the end.
Scarpetta is called to a fire on the property of a very wealthy horse trainer. Many horses have died, and the body of a woman is discovered inside the house. But neither Scarpetta nor the ATF officers, including her niece, Lucy, can figure out where the point of origin of the fire was. Gradually, other similar cases are discovered, and on top of this, there has been communication from a serial killer that Lucy had had a relationship before she was discovered and locked up.
Loved it. So much intrigue, some red herrings. There are some hard things to read in a book of its time, in particular Scarpetta’s attitude to Lucy being gay, and I’m hoping that this improves as the books go on.
Dr Scarpetta is looking at cases that seem to connected, only some of them are in Ireland and some are in the US. Plus, Scarpetta has been receiving photos online of one of the crime scenes, and so it seems that the killer has somehow got her email address (it is one of the difficult things living with 2020 technology but reading a book with 1997 technology… when Scarpetta gets her niece to explain how a photo can be sent by email, it seems ridiculous). Then there appears to be smallpox in the mix… and that’s a whole nother concern, although lead to some great quarantining, which is always fun times.
This is a great Scarpetta book, intrigue, twists that I didn’t guess, violence and excitement left right and centre. Very cool.
Temple Gaunt, the serial killer who first appeared in the Scarpetta novel Cruel and Unusual, has killed again, this time in New York. As more bodies pile up, Scarpetta starts to lose her usual, unflappable demeanor.
I’ve discovered a new favourite thing – reading bad reviews of Scarpetta novels. It’s a negative thing, but I just really like reading what inane things people write about when being negative. Really, do people expect high literature. We are talking here about a paperback where the author’s name is bigger than the title of the book. It is an airport book, a quick and fun read. That is what the audience wants from the book and that is exactly what is delivered.
Cornwell has created a series of characters that I want to know what will happen to them and how they will face the problems presented. The ever-developing relationship between Scarpetta and her niece, Lucy; the relationship that always seems to be deteriorating between Scarpetta and Marino; the doomed romances and even the relationship to the victims and the criminals.
From Potter’s Field didn’t grab me as much as the previous novel, The Body Farm. But I think it was that it was relatively quickly revealed that Gaunt was not the killer in that one, and so the whodunit aspect was very strong, whereas in this, there’s no who.
I’m going to take a break from Scarpetta for a while. I will return just, not for a bit.
Emily Steiner, an 11-year-old in rural North Carolina, has been found dead, and it appears to be the work of serial killer Temple Gaunt. However, when Scarpetta, Marino and Wesley go to the town to investigate, things are not as they seem. Scarpetta’s niece, Lucy, is in training for the FBI, but it appears that she has broken into and sabotaged some of their highly classified computer stuff. Scarpetta wants to believe that Lucy is innocent, however the evidence seems strong.
Whilst I giggle at the obsolete nature of the computer talk, I really enjoyed this subplot. Lucy is a great character and if she were not in Scarpetta’s life, Scarpetta would have almost no personal relationships outside of work. The idea that their personal and professional lives are starting to overlap could have been a problem except that the relationship has been well and truly set up.
The twists involved in this were excellent – whilst it quickly became obvious that the key suspects were innocent, it took quite some time to reveal who the guilty party was.
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.
Beryl Madison has been killed, murdered in an extremely violent chase in her own house. Prior to her death, she fled to Miami, fearful of a stalked. Yet, when she returned, she let him in. Why? Scarpetta needs to know.
I’m loving getting back in the Scarpetta series. She is a top character, although I question some of the decisions she makes regarding her old flame, Mark. The relationship between Scarpetta and Marino is solidifying into a grudging respect, if not an actual friendship. I like it and am heading immediately to the library for the third book, All That Remains.
Postmortem is the first of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta novels, following the life of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia. There are twenty-one books in the series, with the most recent, Dust, coming out at the end of this year. I’ve read a few, but not for ages, and thought it was time for a revisit.
There is a serial killer on the loose in Richmond, attacking women in their houses, raping, torturing and killing them. Scarpetta is attempting to find any clues to help Sergeant Pete Marino and the police to capture them whilst having to constantly prove herself professionally as she is the first woman in this position.
These books are so readable. The characters have started a bit clunky in this, the first novel, but I know that I get to love them a lot more as the series goes on. I think what I enjoyed the most about the novel is how dated it is – with references to computers without hard drives and floppy discs, plus the fact that DNA has only been used in a couple of court cases. How times have changed! In this novel, Scarpetta’s niece is just a young girl, and I’m aware of how her career develops as she grows. I can’t wait to experience these books again.