Yes, I still read Patricia Cornwell. I know, I know. But before you start throwing stones, I'd be willing to bet most of you have a similar deep dark secret. An author you can't give up, even though you know you should. A series you can't quit, even though each new installment leaves you questioning your sanity. I've been reading mystery/suspense way longer than I've been reading romance, so the nostalgia factor is harder for me to kick in that genre. And that's why I still read Cornwell. That, and my job has made it hard for me to kick the habit completely. "I'll just put myself on the wait list for it at work, and when I get it, I'll read it. No big deal."
After slogging through The Scarpetta Factor, the 17th installment, I think I am finally able to call it quits. I'm done. I'm out.
In lieu of an actual review, I'm going to steal Kati's terminology and call this a review-ish. Partly because I'm lazy and partly because I'm not sure what the hell I just read. When a book clocks in at almost 500 pages that's typically not a good sign.
The older I get, the less tolerance I have for bullshit. Just get to the bloody point already. Reading The Scarpetta Factor left me wondering if the author gets edited anymore. Had I been the editor on this book the margins would have been littered with red-inked chicken scratch saying things like, "Who is this? And why should the reader give a crap?," "Where the hell is this going?," "Are you going to get to the point sometime this century?," "Could we drop this nonsense and flesh out the 'suspense' - like yesterday?"
This entire book had a completely unfocused feel. There's one dead body, and one missing person. There's a whack-job former mental patient, a sleazy Hollywood actor, a crack-pot forensic specialist, the mafia, the current economic meltdown, and a CNN talking head who is a bit like Nancy Grace on crack. On top of all that is the mountain of character baggage that by now is so out of control I'm left wondering why these people aren't on serious psychotropic drugs yet. It might have worked, and been interesting, if the author had cut out about 150 pages, and got to the point - tying it all together in some way that made sense. There's also a ton of series-itis going on here - most of it I don't remember. I was left with the impression that I was supposed to already know some of the baddies, and frankly, I didn't. Which is probably an indication of how unmemorable the last several books in this series have been.
It's a mess. Truly. The only reason I kept reading was because I got my Detective Pete Marino fix. Now that the author is done bending him over and screwing with him, he's back to being a politically-incorrect, semi-hostile, but good cop. There's a moment in the story where he's telling Scarpetta how annoyed he is with his state-of-the-art Blackberry and I actually laughed. Out loud.
In the end though, none of this worked. Kay is a pale shadow of her former self. I'm left wondering how Lucy isn't in a maximum security prison yet, and I wanted to bitch-slap Benton Wesley repeatedly. Too much series baggage left unexplained. Too much unfocused rambling, and the suspense was so loosey-goosey that by the final chapters I didn't care how it all turned out or even what the hell was going on - I just wanted it to be over.
Final Grade = D-
Now let's see if I can remember all this when the next book in the series comes out. Stay strong Wendy. Stay strong.