Book Review: Dust by Patricia Cornwell

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Dust (Kay Scarpetta, #21)Dust by Patricia Cornwell

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Dust by Patricia Cornwell is the twenty-first book in the Kay Scarpetta series consisting of about twenty-five (and still counting) novels in the medical and FBI thriller mystery sub-genre. I began reading the novels nearly two decades ago but stopped for a while when I ventured into other genres. I recently picked them up again and want to get current before the next one releases in late 2019 (from what I can tell thus far). They focus on a medical examiner who’s worked for the states of Virginia and Massachusetts but now runs an even larger firm where she employs security, investigative and technical staff. Her husband, Benton, is an FBI profiler. Her niece, Lucy, is a tech whiz. And her best friend, Marino, is now a cop again. All in all, I don’t particular like any of them as people; however, as characters they’re strong, complex, and challenging… hence why I keep reading these books.

In Dust, the body of a young tech whiz who was suing a company for losing some of her money, is found dead on campus. A weird dust covers parts of her body and she’s wearing underwear that don’t belong to her. Scarpetta realizes the girl has ties to a serial killer several states away, but she shouldn’t know this because Benton let a few things slip about his case. Unfortunately, his boss is out to get him, which makes the case and any next steps quite difficult. Benton comes home for a surprise weekend and helps Kay connect the dots on the cases, which leads to an all-out investigation. What is Benton’s boss hiding? How is a dead person’s DNA still showing up on new murder victims? What does this have to do with a case Kay oversaw years ago where she thought the victim was murdered but her deputy filed it as a suicide? And how connected is Lucy to this new victim since they were both working on the same tech inventions? Phone records show many people were connected in secret.

Overall, the plot is intense and complex. It’s the best part of the book. The story unfolds with a great deal of medical and technical details; some is over the top, but much of it is easy to follow. The conclusion has a nice surprise twist and made the book feel quite strong. That said, I had a few concerns which I can’t help but wonder how they slipped through in the final editing process. The reason the first victim was killed is still unclear. Unless that’s the plot of a future story, that’s a problem for me. The who/what/when/where/how of why the killer is connected to someone else in the story isn’t explored enough. It’s just dropped as a suspenseful cliffhanger mid-book, then shares a one-page explanation near the end where we’re supposed to connect the dots on our own of how it all began. It needed more development in those areas to tie things together more closely.

There were a few other incidents like this which prevent me from giving it a 5-star rating. I end up with 3.5 star rounded higher on the book sites, but I really hope the next one is cleaner. I’m ordering it this week and will buddy read with my friend, Medhat, in the near future.

View all my reviews

About Me
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.

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Dust by Patricia Cornwell

    watchingthedaisies said:
    January 21, 2019 at 7:22 AM

    Sounds intriguing Jay. I read all of Patricia Cornwell’s early books but I am due a catch up too.

    Liked by 1 person

    The Cozy Pages said:
    January 21, 2019 at 10:12 AM

    I don’t like when I don’t get all the answers to the mystery. Some ‘mystery’ residue is okay but I still need to feel satisfied after investing in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    lghiggins said:
    January 22, 2019 at 5:30 PM

    Interesting review. There must be a lot good about the series in general for there to be that many in it. I hope the next one is a better read for you.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      January 22, 2019 at 5:53 PM

      Thanks, L. It was a good read, but it always bugs me when things are left too vague. I’m just a freak over details! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    carhicks said:
    January 26, 2019 at 9:17 AM

    I am glad you enjoyed this one Jay. I had been on a Cornwell kick when I read this one and had had enough of the repetitive story line so only gave it a 2. I think I would probably rate it differently if I were to read it again now.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      January 26, 2019 at 9:51 AM

      That’s such an interesting topic… different ways to rate the book and how different periods in life affect it. I keep meaning to start the post series. I would have given it less also if I had read a lot at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

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