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As a compulsive, addicted reader of crime fiction, it would seem a surprise so far that I have not reviewed a novel by Patricia Cornwell. I have a very well read lady in my office who is always trying to encourage me to read a novel by this author. With that in mind I specifically went to the library and chose this book. Now at least I can discuss the merits of this author with her.
==About the author==
Patricia Cornwell was born in Florida on June 9th 1956. Her early career was in journalism, before she turned her attention to writing in 1970. Since then she has become an international best selling author, having racked up 21 novels already.
With her most famous being the Kay Scarpetta series of which account for 16 of these. In 2007 her 'Book of the Dead' won the coverted BCA Crime thriller Award for 2008.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Winston Garano or plain Win to most people, is a Police investigator but is currently being trained on a highly intensive training course. When his boss the District Attorney Monique Lamont calls him back to investigate an unsolved murder that dates back 20 years. When a wealthy lady Mrs Findlay is brutally murdered in her home in the middle of the day.
Win soon discovers there is far more to this than meets the eye. Why does his ambitious boss want this murder investigated after all this time? He realises this must be for Political reasons especially as she is seeking election to Governor in the forthcoming election.
However he has hardly had time to catch his breath when arriving back, when he has an odd conversation with her. He goes round to her flat and finds her tied and naked on the bed having been raped. The man holding her there he shots and kills as he too goes for his gun. Is this somehow related to what happened all those years ago? As Lamont was on television on hours before advising the Public that they were re-opening this case. Win must find out the answers.
==My thoughts on the book==
Without wishing to alienate myself from the hoards of Patricia Cornwell fans, I have to say this was a very disappointing novel. I found it very hard to get into it and it lacked direction, for me it was a weak example of crime fiction. Indeed I had to really pinch myself that this was the work of a very experienced and highly successful author.
This is my first experience of the writings of Patricia Cornwell. I expected great things especially as I heard so much about her books from a variety of sources. Indeed the only thing that worried me was these books might be a 'chick flick' as it was that gender that were telling me to read her work.
So maybe when I came to read it you could argue that my expectations were too high. To be honest I was expecting to be impressed a lesson from the master of crime fiction, but if that was the case I was certainly in for a rude awakening. When I finished this book I was utterly unfulfilled and totally unimpressed with what I had read.
I knew the author wrote very successful crime fiction, just from the very vocal lady I work with. Maybe I should have chosen her more famous novels featuring Kay Scarpetta, but instead I chose this one for two reasons. Firstly it is the first in the series featuring Winston Garano and secondly I didn't know which one was first in the other series as there were so many of them. At least with the book I selected there were only two with this one being written in 2006.
When I picked up this book I was immediately drawn to the books title. It to my mind opened up so many possibilities and sounded like something I would really enjoy. However I wasn't impressed with all the comments telling me how great this author and this book was. Not only was this on the front cover but the back cover as well I thought it was far too much and really switched me off.
I even found more praise for the author in the summary in the inside cover of the book. I take it this summary was not then written by the author as it's quite an unusual and un English thing to do and totally unnecessary in a summary of the book. It was totally over the top for me and I was bored before I even found out what the novel was about.
Anyway back to the summary, after taking away the first paragraph, I was left with two that told me about the book itself. These were quite short but did at least make the novel sound interesting. It from this sounded like a classic investigation where several elements are brought up and you wonder how and why they interact with eachother. It certainly got me curious in the story.
It may sound a little odd but for some reason I always assumed this was an English author. Clearly I was wrong. This presented me with my first challenge when reading this book as I really struggle with American writers. I cannot get my head round the different culture and ideology as a result I rarely enjoy and feel I cannot relate to the concepts that they talk about. So be warned that in this respect my review is not totally unbiased.
With the story I found this very difficult to get into. From the very start I was never really convinced of what was happening and how realistic it really was. I did not really know what the main story was and when the books star would start to investigate it properly. I soon realised there were two stories but I expected his boss's involvement to decline and the real story take over but this did not really happen at all.
What I did appreciate was the good scene setting and describing the characters. I thought the author was good at getting into the heads of her characters and through this I could understand the motivations of most of them. I could certainly see from this why she is a good author but I thought even this lacked body and soul. By this I mean it lacked a detailed investigation and the depth as to find the answers.
I found it astounding that this in theory interesting investigation into what happened 20 years ago and it was solved very simply with DNA testing. Maybe it really is that easy, but somehow I felt cheated, especially as Win seemed to have done very little in the way traditional investigations are solved. I thought it lacked any build up as it was explained how it happened over just a couple of pages. Yes it made sense but it was very frustrating not seeing clues or an organised investigation.
The pace of the book by contrast was always fast moving. There was always something going on and something to consider which helped me get through when what I really wanted was a proper and thorough investigation. I kept expecting Win to really get his teeth into it but instead it was fleeting paragraphs about his team doing the background work on his behalf.
I think had I not wanted to have a complete picture of the book, I would have given it up long before it ended. It was not a good or enjoyable read, it was hard to understand and difficult to feel you were involved in it. I know we all look for different things in what we read and as a result we all have different perspectives, but even given that I believe this is a very poor example of a crime novel.
The novels lead character Win, I tried very hard to like. I enjoyed the fact he was a pawn in a game where he didn't know who was making the rules. I also liked his more compassionate side with his Nan and animals. But for me he was too brash, too confident, too smart and too perfect. I like characters I can relate to and to be honest there was little in him I could do this with. For me he was a weak character in terms of understanding him and his thought processes.
Sadly the same was true with the novels support characters. I found them lacking real identifiable personalities. The only redeeming aspect I did enjoy was the way Win's team interacted with each other, their banter and the way they worked as hard as they could for him.
I think because the story was quite flat and lacked real purpose, I found little suspense in it. Maybe this in part was because the murder did happen 20 years before, so it was a little cold!! I found little in the way to build up and excitement within the story. Yes there was mystery but for me the biggest mystery was what was really happening to Win's boss and what was the story behind it.
In research for this review, I checked out a number of other review sites to see what other people had to say about this book. And I was amazed that people shared my view on how bad this book was. It was a real relief to find out it wasn't just me! It made me think that had this been her first novel no publisher would have been interested in it.
On the positive side the book was very short. I think it really needed far more thought behind it as it was disjointed and really lacked depth. The concept was very good but the execution of it was very poor. I thought I deserved a rare glass of wine to celebrate the completion of this awful book.
I must admit this authors web site (details below) is probably the best one I have ever visited. It has lots of interesting information and is very easy to navigate your way around it.
I found it almost impossible to believe this is a true and real representation of this successful International writer. As this was for me a very poor piece of crime fiction, with the story lacking both detail and depth and I found myself desperate for it to end. I'm sure this author is better than this and I must try one of her other books then at least I will have a fairer understand about her work.
About the author: www.patriciacornwell.com
Thank you for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
@CPTDANIELS November 2009.