Book Review: Chaos by Patricia Cornwell

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Chaos (Kay Scarpetta, #24)Chaos by Patricia Cornwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chaos is the 24th book in the ‘Kay Scarpetta’ thriller and suspense series focusing on a medical examiner’s investigations. It is currently the last book Patricia Cornwell has written in this series as of 2016 as well as serves as the third issue in an arc about serial killer Carrie Grethen.

The novel is a slower read than usual. We spend a lot of time in Kay’s head worrying about things that we don’t know a lot about yet. For the most part, the book takes place in just a few days. Several odd deaths occur, and little by little, Kay, Marino, Benton, and Lucy connect them together with the help of various staff. It seems like Carrie Grethen has found another accomplice, and she’s sought revenge on Kay. Unfortunately, someone close to Kay pays the price in this installment. We also end the books with an incredibly concerning secret reveal about a new character who was introduced a couple of books ago. What drama!

As a three-book arc, it was definitely interesting to see the progression of the serial killer’s mind. I almost wish we had chapters from Carrie’s perspective, so that we fully appreciated her psychotic need to get revenge. That’s my biggest concern in this series right now… if an author wants to build up a huge nut as the crazy killer, we need to know why not just through other people’s views, but through the killer’s mind, too. We get that only if they provide messages in writing, make phone calls, or interact in scenes with dialog. That hasn’t much happened in this arc, so I struggled to really understand ‘why’ it was so important to hurt Kay.

As a standalone book, other than being a little too slow of a read, it was fascinating to learn all about the technology and weapons being used. It’s probably one or two levels above my knowledge base and capability of understanding the detail, but not so much I felt removed. It clicked, but I found myself skimming on occasion when we got into paragraphs about exactly how it came to be in the hands of the serial killer. The best aspects were seeing Kay’s connections with Marino and her staff. She shines with them. Not with Benton. He’s a bit too boring for her. And Lucy has been too far removed for a boatload of books, so I’ve kinda lost any interest in her. The new girlfriend and son angle is interesting, but I wish we’d met them sooner.

That said, it’s a fine ending for the arc. I’m left wondering where the books go next… she’s due for one this year, but I can’t find anything about it. I’ll get it when it comes out… this installment was a 3.5 for me.

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11 thoughts on “Book Review: Chaos by Patricia Cornwell

    Martie said:
    March 15, 2019 at 7:01 PM

    I have a friend who loves this author. I will share your review with him.

    Liked by 1 person

    Cozynookbks said:
    March 15, 2019 at 10:11 PM

    Nice review, Jay. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    lghiggins said:
    March 15, 2019 at 11:13 PM

    Good review. You do a nice job of sharing the positives and negatives of this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    foodinbooks said:
    March 16, 2019 at 11:39 AM

    Good ol’ Carrie Grethen. She refuses to die. She’s been around since The Body Farm (#5) and like a Timex watch, keeps on ticking. An excellent review. You always make me want to start reading Cornwell’s books again, even though I got so annoyed with the series after that silliness with Benton (I won’t spoil it for other readers but I’m sure you know what I’m referring to if you’ve read the entire series of books) that I gave up. Thank you for this great post!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      March 16, 2019 at 4:43 PM

      You’re welcome. Yes, I know exactly when you mean. Ever since then, I dislike the pairing, too. I don’t see her with Marino either, tho.

      Liked by 1 person

    robbiesinspiration said:
    March 16, 2019 at 2:35 PM

    I have read a few of Patricia Cornwall’s books and I never really enjoyed them. My mother loves her though. Thanks for this review, Jay.

    Liked by 1 person

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