My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After reading dozens of cozy mysteries, I had a craving to get back to the hardcore suspense thrillers I used to enjoy. I flipped through my To Be Read (TBR) pile and was reminded of the fantastic ‘Kay Scarpetta’ series by Patricia Cornwell. I read 18 of the books in the earlier part of this decade but stopped when they were getting a bit repetitious. Nearly 5 years later, I ordered the next in the series, Red Mist, and eagerly dove into it. I’m so glad I picked now to start up the series again as it was a fantastic book and supercharged my desire to read the last 5 so I’m fully caught up in the series.
Dr. Kay Scarpetta is a renowned medical examiner, doctor, professor, special investigator, government contractor, et al. The list could go on forever. Everyone wants her to be on their unique and puzzling cases, but there are also many who want to see her ridden from the world. She’s tough. She’s stubborn. She’s been nearly killed a few times. And she loves tracking down serial killers. In this latest edition, Kay is determined to find out what happened to her former right-hand man in the ME’s office. Fielding worked for her, disappeared, worked for her again, disappeared, then was killed in a previous book. The killer came after Kay, too, but failed. We know it was Fielding’s secret daughter (begotten while he was sexually abused by a psychologist when he was 12 years old). What we don’t know is all the things that happened since that point. Kay visits the psychologist in a Georgia prison. She’s been jailed for other crimes in recent years but has hopes for early release. Kay chats with her, learns some secrets, and is then shocked to discover connections with other national cases where people have been murdered in the last few years. How does it all connect?
Ten pages into this book, I knew I’d waited too long to pick up the series again. I missed Kay despite how ornery she can be. It’s almost the reason I love her so much. Cornwell is a great writer. Strip away the medical jargon, frequent technology drops to seem current, or the science terminology, and you’re left with brilliant writing. She strings along phrases and images that pop and draw you in tightly. That said, sometimes the other parts are so over the top, I find myself skimming some paragraphs if it’s a topic I’m not interested in. For example, when there are a few pages about how all the security cameras work, I’m like… ‘hmmm… three sentences, yeah, cool… three hundred, no, I’ll push forward a few pages.’ But then she’ll go into details about DNA and I’m all aboard for the minutia. It’s a matter of taste. I’m willing to ignore some of the jargon because no author can appeal 100% with this stuff to 100% of their audience. It doesn’t affect my rating either, as it’s surface stuff.
I’ve given this one a 4 for a few reasons. Apart from the stellar story and gifted writing, there are a few niggles (to borrow a friend, Shalini’s favorite word). I feel like the plot twist / culprit connection has been partially done before, possibly by Cornwell in previous books. It’s a good one, but it could have used a slightly different arc to make it even more vivid. I also thought the book didn’t explore her relationships with the supporting characters as much as it should have. She connected with Lucy in a big way, which was fantastic. Yet her time with Benton and Marino was lackluster compared to previous installments. On the flip side, Cornwell’s choice to kill off a semi-major character was shocking and saddening for me. All in all, I’m glad she did it, as I think it moves the story forward.
Based on this one, I’m psyched to push thru the rest of the series and am ordering the next one tonight so that I can read it right after the new year. Anyone else a fan?
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For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.