Because I'm a librarian, and literally have millions of books at my disposal, it's impossible for me to quit authors/series. There, I said it. Don't get me wrong, I stop buying my own personal copy - but it's damn hard for me to cut the cord completely. Shiny copies of offending series roll into work, I get distracted by the smell of new ink, and I think to myself, "Maybe this time will be different."
Which means when an ARC of Book Of The Dead by Patricia Cornwell rolled into my office, I got excited. Against my better judgment and the "Danger, Danger Super Librarian!" bells going off in my head. However, that was back in September and I'm just now getting around to reading this book that was released to the masses in October 2007. Why? Because I was scared. Because this series just ain't what it used to be, and I'm holding a grudge. Finally, the Older Sis read it and nagged me into finally reading it so we could discuss. So I did, and I have. My reaction?
Well....I didn't hate it.
How's that for faint praise?
This is the 15th book in the Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Medical Examiner series. The problems I had with this book are pretty much the same problems I've had with the last several. There's too much head-hopping, not enough Kay, and the author's betrayal of the Pete Marino character continues to grate on my nerves. Also, this series stopped standing alone a long time ago. I can't see any reader, not familiar with the series, starting with this book, and understanding anything that's going on. The writing style doesn't help matters, as it continues to spiral into disjointed and abrupt territories.
All that being said? I liked some things. For one, I liked Lucy in this book, and if you tell anyone I said that I'll deny it with my last breath (she's normally a character that annoys the crap out of me). I also like that Cornwell has finally pushed Marino off the cliff. Yeah, I'm still pissed that she's betrayed his character (in my mind anyway), but if you're going to do that, you might as well go whole hog. Frankly, assuming she doesn't drop the ball, it should make for compelling series fodder.
As for the plot? Um, yeah. I could have done without the politics. Listen, I know the Iraq war is a huge
I also feel that Cornwell has strayed too far afield from her trademark. Over the years she's focused more on her characters - much to their detriment (see above Pete Marino rant). Because of that, she's gotten farther away from her suspense threads. There's still a kernel of a compelling suspense thread, but between the disjointed writing and the character angst, it tends to get lost and underdeveloped. Says I, and I know all.
This is a hard book for me to assign a grade to, especially since this review is rather stream of consciousness. Lets go with Final Grade = C. I'm still pissed about Marino, but I was compelled by his story in this book. I also felt that while the writing left a lot to be desired, the author ended the whole affair on a strong note. Sucker that I am, I'll be reading the next book in the series. Damn me, and damn my job.