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The End is Nigh...
on December 19, 2011
I've read all of the Scarpetta novels and after the last 2, vowed never to read another one as I've watched Kay et al slide inexorably down the slippery slope into tedium, repetition, predictability and implausibility. However, last week Cornwell came to our local bookstore and so off I went in the vain hope that if she was actually putting in an appearance in our humble neck of the woods then she MUST have something worth offering. The event was extremely well attended with much overflow milling about in the aisles and generally raising the blood pressure of her "security" (a young man with a Secret Service-looking curly wire hanging out of his ear) and the event organizer who would have been right at home in the Catholic school of which I have shuddering memories. Suitably chastised into order, the tension mounted as we were promised the imminent arrival of Cornwell ("how excited are you??") for 20 minutes. Which is exactly how long we were given. No reading from Red Mist, 20 minutes of questions and answers, and on to the book signing. No dedications please, no conversation or questions (probably just as well as I don't think that my comment of "I hope this is better than the last one" would have gone down very well) - just an illegible scrawled signature and on to the next in line. Move `em along and rack up the dollars. I spent longer trying to find a parking space than I did in the esteemed author's presence. I left clutching my hardback copy for which I paid $$$ and wondering vaguely what had just happened.
Feeling somewhat disgruntled I settled in at home with a pot of tea and The Book. 120 pages later I felt the panic starting to creep in. 50 pages further on I was tempted to fling myself on the floor kicking and screaming. A couple of days later when I had finished it (not all in one sitting - I can only take so much at once) I was leaning towards returning the book and demanding my money back. I mean, it's not as if you can even read the signature! As many other reviewers have stated, Red Mist is an incredibly disappointing novel. Cornwell seems to have reached the sad but often inevitable place that many authors with an initially much loved character reach - she's quite simply run out of steam. It pains me to admit that I no longer like any of her characters; although I must admit to never having liked Lucy. She becomes ever more sociopathic (a word that Cornwell herself used to describe her at the signing) but not in a Dexter-ish way. Benton quite simply should have remained dead. Marino continues to barge about in his boorish/boring manner. Scarpetta has lost the clever edginess for which she was first famous and has simply become an angry, paranoid shrew. Dialogue is weak, plot lines are unlikely, unnecessary repetition is rampant.
Watching Cornwell at the book signing was actually like watching the demise of the Scarpetta novel. One got flashes of humor, breif connection with her audience and semi-interesting tidbits. Then reality hit and you realize that this is about the business of selling novels and content does not really seem to matter anymore. However for me, the proof of the pudding IS in the reading and this is a particular flavor that I wont be indulging in any more. RIP Kay.