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Another great book by a great author. In this book Cornwell continues on from her last book, Point of Origin. It sees Scarpetta and Co dealing with the death of Wesley while trying to find a serial killer. In the mean time, Scarpetta has to try to figure out who is trying to ruin her reputation. The plot is gripping the whole way through and even the deeply scientific parts keep you interested. The author manages to take you into this dark and dangerous world with brillant descriptions while somehow managing to maintain a dry sense of humour. The only real downside is the killer is a bit one dimensional and not entirerly convincing and the ending felt a bit rushed (why would she open the door when she knew there was a killer on the loose?!).
All that said, great book and keeps you guessing till the very end.
In Black Notice, Patricia Cornwell weaves a dark fairytale reminiscent of a Hans Christian Anderson story filled with grief-stricken people and animalistic acts of rage and desire.
The change of location two-thirds in (a device that Cornwell has used successfully in previous books) from Richmond, USA, to Paris, France, refreshes the reader just as the plot begins to stagnate (one-dead body-after-another). Thankfully this shift of scene forces Cornwell, and therefore Kay Scarpetta, away from routine and laboured autopsies to an exploration of international policing and, yes, some passion, as Scarpetta explores emotions that have been buried since the death of her partner. Cornwell has always been able to expertly convey tone in her novels and Black Notice is a good example of this. The fluid shadows along the banks of the Seine contrast to the clean lines and clinical backdrop of the Chief Medical Examiner's autopsy suite in North America.
Throughout the novel the desperate grief of both Scarpetta and her niece, Lucy, builds to a crescendo of destruction for one and physical abandon for the other. This is all juxtaposed with the growling frustration of the increasingly unlikeable Marino who has been demoted within the police force - all conveyed with precision, for by now Cornwell knows these people well.
Cornwell rightly avoids the cliché of Scarpetta's dead lover coming "back to life" after being in a witness protection program organised by the FBI, although interestingly the Marino character acts out the part of the reader/fan who desperately wants the twist in the tale to incorporate the return of Benton Wesley. Scarpetta's frustration at this suggestion from Marino may well be Cornwell's, as I suspect many letters were written to her by well meaning fans encouraging her to write this into the books. Who knows, maybe she has in later ones which I haven't read yet...
If you look back in history the time that man has spent on Earth has been full of evil acts. Recently we have seen mass genocides in Africa, Yugoslavia and all over Europe with the Nazis. Further back life was even worse as the day to day life of a typical person could see your killed, raped of forced into slavery. It is only the fragile rule of law that prevents anarchy from ruling the streets, if it were not for the morality of the silent majority our world would be overrun by people committing evil and selfish acts. What would happen if a darkness came that encouraged everyone to do the things their darkest dreams where made off? Would there be enough goodness in us to defend?
The Dark begins in a quiet road in a London Suburb. A place inhabited by families and couples looking to have the easy life. The street begins to change after a mass suicide occurs in one of the larger houses; there is a sense of evil in the air. The suicides are only the beginning of the madness as family members begin to murder one another or attack perfect strangers on the street. The police only take notice when so many crimes occur that it can not be a coincidence. Bishop is already investigating the house where the initial people died and as a cynical ghost hunter he works with a women and her blind father on a theory that evil could have been unleashed from the house. The dark begins to spread across all of London until Marshall Law is called; can Bishop and the police work out the reason behind the crime sprees before its too late to save society?
This is by no means Herberts best book, but even on his worst day he is able to come up with a good idea. The core concept of a darkness being within everyone is a very interesting one and The Dark tries to explain it via both psychic and scientific means. Herbert is able to do this by having main characters that look at a situation with different opinions; Bishop believes in facts and science, whilst others are far quicker to jump to a supernatural explanation. Herbert is able to balance these two arguments in a really interesting way, especially for the first two thirds. Unfortunately I still feel that he could have explained the concepts more clearly and a bit deeper.
This lack of substance continues with Herberts characters in The Dark. Neither main character is anything more than a cut out action hero or lady in distress. Herbert tries to develop Bishop by his care for his mentally ill wife, but this seems half hearted and does not conclude realistically. The story itself can also be criticised as it is very linear, with parts reading like a straight chase. I would have preferred a bit more subtly to the plot, rather than all out action. The final area that marks this book as limited is its very dated feel. Written in the late 70s you certainly get that vibe. The book feels incredibly British, but also has harsh American style scenes. I think this Herbert book has dated more than others as it deals with social issues that no longer plague Britain, whilst ignoring those that do.
The book is by no means poor throughout as it still highlights Herberts skill as a horror writer. Whilst being linear and quite generic Herbert still manages to produce some great descriptions of horror. The elements that make up the main story are ok, but Herbert sometimes describes one of the attacks of the dark as it roams London. There are some great set pieces that do not contain any of the main protagonists, including a vicious riot at a football match and a man bludgeoning his wife to death at a National Front meeting. These pockets of horror show Herberts skill as a writer of terror, but also underline the problems that the main story has.
Overall I enjoyed The Dark due to the interesting concepts it discussed and the frequent set pieces. However, it can not be considered anything more than an average Herbert novel as it suffers greatly from being too linear and confusing towards the end. I would recommend it Herbert completeists only as it may put off a new reader. Herbert's 'Rats' trilogy or 'The Shrine' are far better starting points.
This is another classic from Herbert, its similar in some ways to The Fog, i.e, the majority of people go mad with only a few people not succumbing who are left to save the world from evil. The story, as always, sees a main male character by the name of Chris Bishop who is a cynical ghost hunter (much in the mode of David Ash of the Haunted/Ghosts of Sleath) sent to investigate the strange goings on in a quiet suburban house. As usual with Herbert there is plenty of suspense thrown in with lots of twists and turns to the plot. There are several excellent scenes which really grip you and have you frantically turning the pages over to get to the next line, the one I really enjoyed was the football crowd chapter. Having experienced first hand being part of such crowds (albeit with not so violent results) at football grounds I could really associate with the atmosphere that Herbert captures so authentically. In fact I enjoyed that bit so much I actually went back and read the whole chapter again. Anyway, the story progresses with further mayhem being caused by some mysterious force that seems to lurk in the dark and turns ordinary people into homicidal maniacs who murder and rape for no apparent reason, they usually then end up ending their own lives in some horrific way. In a strange way you can almost sense that Herbert enjoyed writing this book as it seems to flow from page to page and you get the impression that he really threw himself into it. I know it kept me in its grasp from start to finish …… a finish incidentally which has a totally unexpected twist but which I am not even going to give you a clue about because it will spoil it. In summary another excellent offering that you will not be able to put down and which you will end up reading over and over again.
If you don't like the dark, it's probably best that you miss this one out. I read this book after his trilogy 'Rats', so this book had a lot to live upto (which it did). Although not as good as The Rats, the idea of writing a book about darkness is great, as a lot of people dislike the dark anyway (a good way to play on peoples fears). As usual the book is superbly written and so descriptive the book consumes you. It employs the same framework as his other books i.e. a graphic sex scene, but it wouldn't be a James Herbert book without it. :)>) Horror readers will really enjoy this one.
Some people seem to have been quite disappointed with 'Black Notice' but all these people seem to have read all of Patricia's previous books. This is only the third of Patricia Cornwell's books which I have read. However, Black Notice is undoubtedly the best yet. Cornwell has managed to describe every character, crime scene and situation with such great detail that you feel as if you are actually in the book. The plot is gripping the whole way through and even the deeply scientific parts keep you interested. Without trying to give too much away, the murderer seems so evil and horrendous it's as if he's from a fairy tale, but yet he still seems so real and completely possible. The book never becomes boring and is extremely hard to just put down and leave for very long. It combines so many excellent ideas, each one more shocking and brilliant than the one before, that I wonder how Cornwell thinks some of them up. The book keeps you guessing till the very end and every guess will be wrong so that when the mystery is finally solved it leaves you startled and amazed at how wrong you really were! I'm sure you'll enjoy this book, no matter what some people say, so what are you waiting for, read it!
I was thrilled to see that Patricia Cornwell had another novel out in the UK, and quickly snapped it up. However, I have to say, as a character, I am finding Kay Scarpetta is getting on my nerves, as are the other main characters in these novels. Ok, so in the last novel, Scarpetta lost the love of her life (not for the first time!), but it got SO boring reading her depressed details. I also got SO irritated with the fact she and her neice cannot see eye to eye; in the first few novels, it was quite the opposite. Now, they seem to be fighting each other all the time, and it's hard to suss out who is "good" and who is not. Despite that, I read the book, and the actual thriller bit was up to Patricia Cornwell's usual high standards. i did expect, though, to see her murdered lover turn up at some point in the final pages! I hope that there are more Scarpetta novels to follow, but I also hope that Patricia Cornwell takes a long, hard look at the characters in these novels, and brings a bit more reality back to them, otherwise the next one I read will probably be the last.
I have read all the Cornwell books, and was starting to think that she had lost her edge. The characters were wearing down...that is until Black Notice. This was a real breath of fresh air for me. The charaters were more real than ever and Cornwell managed to inject more emotions than you could shake a stick at. The story itself was original and as ever graphically written. A top read moving from America to Paris without a pause. Scarpetta manages to track the killer as she battles with her own demons, and the best part...a totally unexpected ending. Top read, I was on the edge of my seat throughout. I highly recommend it.
I used to love the Scarpetta novels, especially the first few. Then Kay Scarpetta seemed to disappear up her own arse. Does this woman possess a sense of humour? My friends and family became used to hearing my screeches of anguish as I read yet another passage in which Kay makes fresh pasta or cooks some amazing stew from scratch. I thought she was supposed to be a busy woman! Now I find Cornwell's written a book called "Scarpetta's Winter Table", which appears to include a collection of recipes. Either Cornwell's got a better sense of humour than her protagonist, or she's totally gone insane. Anyway, as for Black Notice - I was relieved to find myself enjoying it, after the astonishingly anti-climatic ending of "Point of Origin", but once again, the ending left a lot to be desired. There's no interplay between heroine and villain like we used to get, just the obligatory break-in and the chase through the various rooms of the house. Ho-hum, seen it all before. Hey Patricia, how about a nice prolonged confrontation scene? Pretty please?
I would not recommend this book. I've only read a couple of other book’s by Cornwell and some of the other books were much better the this one. Cronwell seems to spend two-thirds of the book analyzing Scarpetta and her loss of Benton, and allowing Marino to give everyone a lot of lip. By some very tedious twists and turns, she connects the dots in the last fifty pages. Pity the rest of the book is not as good as the last 50 pages. Sending Scarpetta on a trip to Paris was nice, and the INTERPOL idea is pretty good; however, these are used in a quick-and-dirty fashion, sort of thrown into the mix for good measure. An easy read, if you're interested in reading about someone's personal problems. Don't bother if you're interested in reading a murder mystery.
As an avide Scarpetta fan I was thrilled to find out Ms. Cornwell had written another. I truly enjoyed Point of Origin, and each that led up to it, and was eager to find out what was to come next for our characters. Unfortunately, this new one fell a little short on my Scarpetta meter! Just when you think we're going down a new road, with infinite possiblities, the road comes to a dead end. I will not be specific because I don't want to ruin the book for other Scarpetta fans. If you truely are, the book is still worth your time just don't get your hopes up that it will be like the earlier ones. Lets hope the next one improves!!
I really love all Kay Scarpetta novels, and I was really excited to get to read Black Notice. It seemed that this book was focusing mostly on the charactors and not on the murder. I think she was trying to make this book as a bridge to another hopefully more interesting story line. That's probably why the murder was so rushed. Yes I really hope her writing will get back to its usual style - exciting, edge of your seat. I think you should read this book just so you can follow the characters personal lives. I loved this book except for the ending - too predictable. I love reading the Scarpetta books because of the detail in forensic evidence. I also have grown to care about the characters and how their lives are progressing. In a series it's important to have a strong foundation within the characters and Kay, Marino, and Lucy are all interesting, complex characters that I enjoy to read about. I especially am enjoying Kay's new romance with the Interpol stud. Hope to see more of him in the future.