kay scarpetta

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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Book Review: Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell

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Depraved Heart (Scarpetta, #23)Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Depraved Heart is the 23rd novel in the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. It is also the middle novel in a three-book arc focusing on a common villain who’s resurfaced from the past. To be honest, I don’t recall whether we read about Carrie Grethen in one of the very early novels, but I believe she was mentioned at some point given the books began in 1990 and the time period referenced was 1995 thru 1997 when the criminal interacted with the main characters. Sorry! After this many books read and this long of a period passing by, my mind isn’t 100% certain on everything I read (without a refresher); and I’m too lazy today to verify. Ha!

Depraved Heart was a strong book for me, although others didn’t love it as much. It’s hard to keep momentum in a series, especially when they are technical and detailed. Most of the plot of this book takes place over a 24-hour period when we focus on the legal aspects of what the FBI can and can’t do to Lucy based on a tip they’ve received and an inkling they have about what really happened in the last book in Florida. While we do have a body and an autopsy, Kay isn’t doing it herself, and she only comments on what she’s seen or heard from others. We’re not even certain who killed the woman as it could be a couple of people, but we’ll be sure in the next book when the arc concludes.

Overall, this was the kind of book where I couldn’t stop flipping pages to see what the key characters would learn about Carrie Grethen, the criminal FBI mastermind who’s been stalking them for years in the background. She’s a formidable villain and can hold Scarpetta AND Lucy at bay for their actions in the past and currently. We see very little of Benton in this book, and Lucy is only there for a few conversations. We’re almost entirely witnessing a few hours of time between Kay and Marino as they investigate a potential homicide, receive a video about Carrie and Lucy’s former friendship, and realize the crime is connected to the past.

For suspense and thrills, it’s top notch but not in terms of a chase. It’s a methodical look at how Carrie could pull off such actions from the dive ‘accident’ in Florida to the copper-mining to the murder of the starlet’s daughter in the initial crime that we think is unrelated. Watching the drama unfold was fantastic, but I like this sort of novel. If you’re looking for detailed medical procedures and analysis, this book strays from the norm. If you like connecting prior events we’ve seen bits and pieces of to something current and crazy, you should love it.

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Book Review: Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell

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Flesh and Blood (Kay Scarpetta #22)Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Kay Scarpetta series clearly shows the work of a brilliant imagination, clever plotter, intelligent and savvy mind who understands people, and intense soul. After 22 books, I’m unable to put them down… and knowing what it’s like to write a series, I’m in awe of Patricia Cornwell’s talent. With Flesh and Blood, the 22nd of ~25, she continues building and developing a set of characters I often feel are so real, they’re sitting in my living room or bedroom as I’m reading… being their usual sarcastic and bitchy selves… poking a stick in my direction to do more with my life… urging me to push the boundaries. That’s the kind of character I love to experience.

So… why just 3 stars? I think the question for this book and my opening paragraph really goes back to the definition of a book review. Is it an honest opinion of a standalone book? An opportunity to highlight what you liked about it so others might read it? A chance to just complain because you prefer to focus on the negatives? A comparison of it to other books in its genre? A focus on its place within the entire series? A commentary on how well the author conveys something (a) new, (b) different, (c) above standard, (d) comforting, (e) I could go on forever… I often see other people’s reviews and wonder… what were they thinking? do they just like to be mean? Are they so easily contented they give high ratings because they love the author? I’m not judging anyone at all, I’m merely highlighting different ways of writing a review.

That said, I ask again… why just 3 stars from me? To me, a 3 star book is one that is a good read, has interesting parts, has not so interesting parts, doesn’t stand out from the rest of its genre/series/author/type, has no egregious errors, and leaves me feeling okay but not thirsting to read a sequel or another book by the author. Given I love this series, I will read them all, but I might think twice about picking up a different series.

Flesh and Blood has all the gore, science, technology, and deep-rooted psychology I’ve come to adore in the author’s style and books. The writing is good, but not stellar. It didn’t force me to read more chapters, but I didn’t feel it was painful to read. I think it fell prey to average plot with no standout characters other than the main 4 (Benton, Lucy, Marino, and Kay). If we had a powerful viewpoint from the killer, or a strong secondary character who was loved or hated by one of the main ones, I might have latched on a bit more.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I wouldn’t rate is one of the higher ones in the series. I didn’t rush at night to get to bed to read. Thankfully, it was a buddy read with my friend Medhat which is always fun… so that helped since we could discuss it along the way. I’ll still be borrowing the next one from the library in March, so stay tuned for more on this series from me.

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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.

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.

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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.

Book Review: The Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell

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The Bone Bed (Kay Scarpetta, #20)The Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a five-year absence, I decided to catch up on the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. I read the 19th book last month and now I’ve just finished the 20th book, The Bone Bed. If this were a standalone book, I’d be totally thrilled… but after finishing two within a month, I know why I slowed down a bit. It can be a little much at times, and having a year in between is a good thing. I still plan to read the last few in the next couple of months so I’m fully caught up, but then it’ll be nice to keep them spaced out… assuming Cornwell keeps writing more. We’re over the 25 mark already… The Bone Bed is less of a technical thriller and more of a medical thriller. By getting back to the basics, I found myself more interested in the actual murders and autopsies. It’s amusing that I go from reading a light cozy mystery to a hardcore gruesome thriller, but I like to keep the balance in my life as tight as possible. Perhaps I’m a little too wound up?

A body is found at sea attached to a reptilian-dinosaur-turtle creature. A man is on trial for killing his wife but the body hasn’t been found. An archaeologist is missing in Canada. What do they all have in common? A few interesting things and perhaps the same serial killer. But why is (s)he doing it? Kay must find out except as things start to come together, people close to her begin hiding things from her. Then she’s called to testify at a trial only to see it’s a completely orchestrated game where she’s the intended victim. Her entire scene when she’s performing an autopsy then rushing to the courthouse for the trial is absolutely stunning. It’s about 5 to 6 chapters (~100 pages, 25% of the book) and it’s one of the most thrilling and immersive things I ever read. It bounces all over the place but I am completely mesmerized by its power over me. For that, I wanted to give it 5 stars. I was so angry at the judge and the attorney who were treating Kay horribly when she did the right thing no matter if it meant she was late to court. OMG, I wanted to kill them. Luckily my other half, who is an attorney, is not a trial lawyer. Or we’d have a problem!!!

Anyways… the rest of the book was strong, but there were some let-downs which prevented a higher rating. For one thing, we lost a major supporting character in the last book, and this person wasn’t at all mentioned in this book. WHAT? Then, we find out Marino did some stupid things again, and we never see him and Kay have it out. That’s not the kind of thing to leave for the next book. We needed recovery in this one from his antics. And the fine Kay pays for being late to court… I want justice against that judge and opposing council. I also don’t think we should’ve waited til the future for it (I’m making a big leap assuming it will happen in the next book). So… I was let down enough to drop 1 star. I also felt Benton and Kay’s relationship was a tad weak in this book… and Lucy’s sudden new relationship was a surprise but should’ve been more prominent. Lastly, in the final chapter, the man on trial might possibly still be guilty of coercing someone into killing his wife even if he didn’t do it and we know who really did. Are readers supposed to guess from the coy dialog? I wanted it to be firm, not vague. Otherwise, it’s a fantastic read… some frustrating moments but definitely improved by STELLAR courtroom scenes and vivid ME actions.

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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.

Book Review: Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell

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Red Mist (Kay Scarpetta, #19)Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell

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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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.

Review: Blow Fly

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Blow FlyBook Review


3 out of 5 stars to Blow Fly, the 12th book in the “Kay Scarpetta” thriller and mystery series, written in 2003 by Patricia Cornwell. In this book, Cornwell changes the point of view to third person, which is different from previous books. It was awkward at first, but I am usually good with these types of switches. I found some problems with it, but I wasn’t as concerned as several other readers were. What did bug me a little was this felt a bit like the Hannibal Lecter series for a short minute. Kay needs a break and takes off to Florida. She’s pulled into a case from another state. And suddenly, the Wolfman (a killer from previous books) who is still in jail, asks to see Kay. And he’s got information about what’s going on. I was like “wait wait wait…” but then it takes different turns, so it’s OK. Given the interesting changes and confusion, I wasn’t super keen on this book; however the plot and mystery aspects were strong, so I it evened-out for me. It’s not the best in the series, not the worst. But it’s a turning point.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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