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Scarpettaby Patricia Cornwell
Synopses & Reviews
From America's #1 bestselling crime writers comes the extraordinary new Kay Scarpetta novel.
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 talk — and 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.
Throughout, Cornwell delivers shocking twists and turns, and the kind of cutting-edge technology that only she can provide. Once again, she proves her exceptional ability to entertain and enthrall.
"At the start of bestseller Cornwell's plodding 16th thriller to feature Dr. Kay Scarpetta (after Book of the Dead), the forensic pathologist — who recently relocated to Belmont, Mass., with her forensic psychologist husband — is called to Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital for reasons that don't become clear until she gets there. Oscar Bane, who voluntarily committed himself to Bellevue while denying he brutally murdered his girlfriend, refuses to speak to anyone except the high-profile Scarpetta. Bane, Scarpetta discovers, is obsessed with her. Meanwhile, someone masquerading as Scarpetta is lurking in cyberspace and supplying an online gossip site with dirty secrets about the doctor. For help on the murder case, Scarpetta turns to her computer whiz niece and a macho former colleague whose shocking actions in Book of the Dead severely damaged his relationship with Scarpetta. With a plot full of holes and frustrating red herrings, this entry falls short of the high standard set by earlier volumes in this iconic series." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Autopsy report on "Scarpetta," by Patricia Cornwell. Condition on arrival: D.O.A. Description of corpus: Rigor mortis set in with this suspense series somewhere around entry No. 12, "Blow Fly." In an attempt to resuscitate the series (and to compete with all those other medical examiners popping up on TV cop shows), the author resorted to extreme measures: Murder... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) methods became more baroque; psycho-killers grew more sadistic; stalwart characters inexplicably surrendered to darker impulses. Meanwhile, the series heroine, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, retreated into the shadows, hemmed in by her moral rectitude and increasingly glum personality. Recommendation for corpus: Dispatch "Scarpetta" to the Rue Morgue for discreet disposal of remains. Fans of Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta series will doubtless bristle at my irreverence, but their loyalties might waver when they learn that the weary plot of this latest novel features the following: the requisite psycho-killer, who yearns to add Scarpetta to the running tally of salaciously slaughtered victims; a pair of dwarfs, or "little people," who share a zest for frequent showers, depilatory treatments and kinky sex; and — the ultimate horror! — a passel of dead puppies. Most likely, however, Cornwell's fans won't give a hoot about what I (or any other reviewer) say about this silly novel. Cornwell long ago ascended into the ranks of The Untouchables: Like Robert B. Parker, Dick Francis and Clive Cussler — to name a few other mystery and suspense writers whose tattered tents are pitched on that literary Mount Olympus — she can write no book so bad that it won't instantly appear on the best-seller list. And you know a book is bad when, instead of losing yourself in its world, you start arguing with its premises. For instance: Why would Scarpetta drop everything (in this instance, her trusty Stryker saw covered with brain tissue) and catch the shuttle from Boston to New York on a blizzardy New Year's Day to examine, at his insistence, a murder suspect sitting manacled in the psych ward at Bellevue? We're meant to think that because the suspect's murdered girlfriend hero-worshiped Scarpetta (doesn't everyone?), who now has a regular gig on CNN, she's famous enough to attract such celebrity solicitations; but why does she consent? Anyway, since when do murder suspects dictate such requests for medical specialists? Is Scarpetta the only doctor willing to work on the holiday? Ditto for Scarpetta's computer-whiz niece, Lucy; Scarpetta's new husband, forensic psychologist Benton Wesley; and her former Keystone Kops sidekick, Pete Marino, all of whom assemble in New York City to crack the case. In all of New York — nay, the whole Eastern seaboard — is there no one else of competence available to combat crime? The slaying they're gathering to investigate is that of Terri Bridges, a little person who's found in her Manhattan apartment, savagely assaulted and made to witness her own demise in a gilt-edged mirror. Oscar Bane, Terri's boyfriend, is temporarily residing at Bellevue, under suspicion in the murder. (His body is bruised, as though he'd been in a struggle.) As Scarpetta and her team dig deeper, however, it becomes evident that Terri's death has all the marks of the work of — are you ready for this? — a serial killer!!! Serial killers are as ho-hum as dryer lint in the Scarpetta universe. This one, however, doesn't even try to hide his/her/its nutso impulses under a mask of cordiality. (Hint: If you can't identify the serial killer du jour within the first few chapters of this book, you're probably also stumped by those Where's Waldo? picture puzzle books.) Subplots involve Marino's hesitant reconciliation with Scarpetta after a drunken incident months before, when he forced his lustful attentions on her; the marriage troubles between Scarpetta and Benton; and Scarpetta's online stalking in the columns of a gossip rag called Gotham Gotcha! None of these story lines is very compelling because Cornwell's writing in this novel is unusually flat. For instance, here's a passage in which Benton reflects on Marino's sexual molestation of Scarpetta: "When (Marino) forced himself on her, he wasn't showing contempt or hate or trying to humiliate. Marino was taking what he wanted when she wouldn't give it, because it was the only way he could kill an unrequited love he could no longer survive. His betrayal of her was actually one of the most honest things he'd ever done." A little of this clinical commentary goes a long way, but "Scarpetta" is long on analysis and short on drama. When Patricia Cornwell's signature series began, its plots were thrilling but restrained; its main character was a complex and engaging career woman, streaked with melancholy. As the tired title of this latest entry suggests, however, the series might be ready to be rolled off the dissecting table and into the freezer drawer. Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan, who is the book critic for the NPR program 'Fresh Air.' She teaches a course in detective fiction at Georgetown University., Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"The blend of forensic investigation and high-tech intrigue will please Scarpetta's legions of fans." Booklist
"The title perfectly suits a challenging mystery that's only a pendant to the endless soap opera revolving around a heroine who just can't stop posing for Mt. Rushmore." Kirkus Reviews
A woman has vanished while digging a dinosaur bone bed in the remote wilderness of Canada. Somehow, the only evidence has made its way to the inbox of Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, over two thousand miles away in Boston. She has no idea why.
But as events unfold with alarming speed, Scarpetta begins to suspect that the paleontologists disappearance is connected to a series of crimes much closer to home: a gruesome murder, inexplicable tortures, and trace evidence from the last living creatures of the dinosaur age.
When she turns to those around her, Scarpetta finds that the danger and suspicion have penetrated even her closest circles. Her niece Lucy speaks in riddles. Her lead investigator, Pete Marino, and FBI forensic psychologist and husband, Benton Wesley, have secrets of their own. Feeling alone and betrayed, Scarpetta is tempted by someone from her past as she tracks a killer both cunning and cruel.
About the Author
Patricia Cornwell's most recent bestsellers include Book of the Dead, The Front, and Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper & #151; Case Closed. Her earlier works include Postmortem — the only novel to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards and the French Prix du Roman d'Aventure in a single year — and Cruel and Unusual, which won Britain's prestigious Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of 1993. Dr. Kay Scarpetta herself won the 1999 Sherlock Award for the best detective created by an American author.
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