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As a fan of the Sacrpetta series, I was a bit disapointed by this installement. For those not familiar with the series, and because the jacket of the book claims that this is the perfect way to get re-introduced to the coroner sleuth, I shall summarise what the series are all about. Scarpetta is a medico-legal expert, head of her department in Virginia, except in this installement, where she works in New York. Together with her trio sidekicks (her now husband and former FBI agent Benton, her uber-gifted niece FBI agent Lucy and her rogue police partner Marino) she solves some of the worse crimes whose victims end up on her coroner table. In this volume of the series, Scarpetta and her entourage are all personally targetted in different ways but appear somehow linked together and as a result the narative's focus alternates from one character to the other until the final chapter brings all the characters and all the naratives together. The book was actually not focused on Scarpetta as much as on previous volumes, but on her usual sidekicks as well, all of which appear as quite unpleasant people really. I used to like the characters, but they are portrayed in such negative light (all of them dissimulative, going behind each others' back, selfish, etc) in this book that I did not want them to "win". Ambiguous heroes can be interesting, but here their negative portrayal just hindered the course of the action as they attempt to hide information from one another. Scarpetta, on the other hand, seems like an old woman, always behind the action and not quite able to cope with the events of which she is meant to be at the centre. Another disapointment was the near absence of medico-legal evidence in a book meant to be centred on a medico-legal expert using her skills to solve crimes! Finally, the book was not boring in itself, but the build up to the climax led to an anti-climax more than anything. The end was quick, explanations of everything given in one page, and the final action short and uneventful. The Uber villain portrayed as a moriarty-type oponent dies without talking of even putting a fight, just like his henchmen (which were actually the most interesting characters). All in all, a goodish summer read, but below the level Cornwell got us used to!
I love the Scarpetta series and have read every single book and am always waiting with excitement for the next one to come out. I must admit I was disappointed with this book. The book seems to focus more on the characters of Marino and Lucy rather than Scarpetta. There is a lot of technical jargon in this book as Lucy features so much in it and I was completely lost at times. Apart from the technical jargon I also found this book confusing as the scenes don't seem to follow. There are too many characters and it seems to flit from one to the other with no clear path. The ending is predictable and poor. The ending of previous books has always been dramatic and nail biting but there was a build up throughout the book and then ending was such an anti climax. Bringing back an old villan should have worked but it didn't. It just seemed desperate and weak. I can't believe this is by the same author who wrote the earlier books in the Scarpetta series. Patricia Cornwell seems to have lost her touch and the characters have lost their way and are not the ones who gripped us several years ago. I hope the next book is better or I won't be bothering to continue with this series.