I have a long, colorful history with Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta series. I've loved some of the books, and hated others. I've been frantically glued to the pages of some, and hurled others towards the nearest wall. So you're probably wondering (or maybe not), what does Super Librarian have to say about the latest book in the series, Scarpetta?
Well, it didn't suck.
Yes, it's true. I've always had a way with words.
Before I continue on with this review, for those of you not read up on the series who don't want spoilers? Yeah, turn back now. There's no way I can review this book without providing spoilers for previous entries. You've been warned.
A new year finds Dr. Kay Scarpetta hard at work in Boston, when she gets a call from her husband, former FBI profiler, Dr. Benton Wesley. There's been a shocking murder in New York City. A single woman, a little person, savagely murdered in her apartment and found by her boyfriend, also a little person. The boyfriend, Oscar, is extremely paranoid and is having delusions that he's being followed, tracked and spied on. Now he's discovered his girlfriend's body, and he's really freaked. So he checks himself into Bellevue, demands to see Dr. Benton Wesley, and then states in no uncertain terms that he'll only let Dr. Kay Scarpetta examine him. The New York District Attorney, Jaime Berger, is sitting on a powder keg, and already the tabloids are calling Oscar "The Midget Murderer." Heck, they're not even sure Oscar is guilty of anything and the stick-up-her-ass New York City coroner is hesitant to even rule the murder a homicide. Against his better judgment, Benton calls Kay and she travels to New York to meet with Oscar.
What unfolds is a complicated case involving Oscar's paranoia, another plot to "sabotage" Kay, a vicious online gossip site called Gotham Gotcha!, and charges of animal cruelty.
I found this story, for the most part, a nice return to form. It appears to be better written (or maybe I've just gotten used to it by now) than the last several books. I also enjoyed that the investigation took more of a central role, with all the character baggage taking more of a back seat in this installment. There's a lot of loose threads floating around in this book, and the author ties up everything quite neatly in the end. I also felt the climactic finish really cooked, and I tore through the second half of this novel.
A lot of this felt like same ol' same ol'. I mean, how many times do I have to read a book in this series that features someone who is "out to get" Kay. Seriously, this woman has more enemies than Richard Nixon. Also, while Kay has always been a smart, attractive woman, she's nauseatingly too good to be true in this book. I kept waiting for her to say, "Can't we all just get along?" in regards to all the character baggage that now populates this series.
In regards to that baggage, yes Detective Pete Marino plays a sizable role in this story. For the most part, I thought Cornwell handled his fall from grace and redemption well. That being said, I guess I expected Lucy, Benton and Kay to be a lot more pissed off. Kay especially. She seems determined to sweep his actions under the rug completely and essentially doesn't acknowledge it. Despite his odious behavior in the previous book, The Book of the Dead, I really liked Marino in this story. It was lovely to see him back to being a good investigator!
While the writing was better here, I did feel this story was easily 100 pages too long. Maybe I've been reading too many shorter books lately, but Scarpetta seemed to take forever to get moving in a forward direction. Once Kay finally gets done with her examination of Oscar, and the investigating begins, the book picks up steam.
The suspense thread is no real brain-bender, given the lack of suspects, but Cornwell has never been a writer of traditional Whodunits anyway. And after the last few lackluster entries, I'm finding myself surprisingly easy to please. Probably the lowered expectations. Final Grade = C+