From Publishers Weekly
At the start of bestseller Cornwell's plodding 16th thriller to feature Dr. Kay Scarpetta (after Book of the Dead
), the forensic pathologist—who recently relocated to Belmont, Mass., with her forensic psychologist husband—is called to Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital for reasons that don't become clear until she gets there. Oscar Bane, who voluntarily committed himself to Bellevue while denying he brutally murdered his girlfriend, refuses to speak to anyone except the high-profile Scarpetta. Bane, Scarpetta discovers, is obsessed with her. Meanwhile, someone masquerading as Scarpetta is lurking in cyberspace and supplying an online gossip site with dirty secrets about the doctor. For help on the murder case, Scarpetta turns to her computer whiz niece and a macho former colleague whose shocking actions in Book of the Dead
severely damaged his relationship with Scarpetta. With a plot full of holes and frustrating red herrings, this entry falls short of the high standard set by earlier volumes in this iconic series. (Dec.)
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Critics agreed that readers familiar with Cornwell's series will find Scarpetta
a weak addition; novice audiences will certainly want to skip over this one and start with Postmortem
(1990), Cornwell's award-winning debut. Although Scarpetta
is not one of the better entries to date, the thriller contains Cornwell's meticulous attention to detail (from autopsies to investigations) and edge-of-your-seat plotting. However, reviewers cited too much backstory, overly complex twists, and only mediocre characterization. The Rocky Mountain News
even accused Scarpetta of becoming "something of a cipher," while the Guardian
found nothing to like at all. The bright spot? A thrilling, unpredictable ending.
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