From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Cornwell's compelling 18th Kay Scarpetta novel (after The Scarpetta Factor), her strongest work in years, involves the chief medical examiner in a case that's both far-reaching in its national security implications and deeply personal. The story begins at the real Port Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, where Scarpetta is assisting in developing techniques for virtual autopsies, then shifts back to her recently adopted home at Boston's Cambridge Forensic Center (CFC). A young man's mysterious death becomes even stranger after full-body scans reveal destruction so extensive it's as if a bomb went off inside his body. Scarpetta and husband Benton Wesley-along with her niece, Lucy Farinelli, and ex-cop turned CFC investigator Pete Marino-discover links not only to a government project with the ability to cause mass casualties but also to another grisly case currently under investigation. As Scarpetta's military past rears its head, the emotional damage the investigation of the cases is bound to wreak on Cornwell's steadfast heroine will leave readers eager for the next installment. Long-time fans will welcome the return after a decade to a first-person narration with direct access to Scarpetta's thoughts.
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Cornwell returns to form—somewhat—after the plodding Scarpetta Factor (2009). Told in the first person, the story finds Kay Scarpetta, now the chief medical examiner of the new Cambridge Forensic Center in Massachusetts, involved in a couple of cases: the mysterious sudden death of a man and the murder of a child (whose confessed killer seems to be innocent). Soon she begins to suspect the two cases are related—joined by a piece of high-tech hardware found in the first victim’s apartment—and before too long, she realizes she’s facing what could be her most clever foe yet. For the first time in a while, Cornwell seems genuinely interested in Scarpetta again, giving the novel that spark of life that has made the series so enjoyable for its many fans. The book is still a long way from the glory days of Postmortem (1991) and From Potter’s Field (1995), but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Series fans who have felt a bit let down of late will be pleased. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Print, radio, television, in-person, billboards, Twitter, Facebook, iPhone apps—about the only thing Putnam isn’t doing to promote Cornwell’s latest is a graffiti campaign. --David Pitt