Customer Reviews


908 Reviews
5 star:
 (271)
4 star:
 (125)
3 star:
 (103)
2 star:
 (157)
1 star:
 (252)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


238 of 265 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of the series in a long long time
To be frank, I was never going to read another Scarpetta mystery after the last few disasters that Cornwell wrote. However, there the book was on the new releases shelf at the library staring down at me with a silent "read me" plea. Seemed like fate that I got to the library in time to pick up Cornwell's latest entry in the ongoing Scarpetta series. I opened it and...
Published on October 22, 2009 by Deborah Verlen

versus
746 of 774 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What A Fan Wants
Your sales were down 50% from last year. You failed to hit the #1 slot on the NYT bestsellers list for the first time in, like, a hundred years. So what do we, the readers, want?

1. Brevity. Your last two books ballooned to 500 pages. And you used to be so concise!!

2. The third person has to go. We all loved Kay, we loved hearing her thoughts...
Published on January 6, 2010 by Anonymous


‹ Previous | 1 291 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

746 of 774 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What A Fan Wants, January 6, 2010
Your sales were down 50% from last year. You failed to hit the #1 slot on the NYT bestsellers list for the first time in, like, a hundred years. So what do we, the readers, want?

1. Brevity. Your last two books ballooned to 500 pages. And you used to be so concise!!

2. The third person has to go. We all loved Kay, we loved hearing her thoughts.

3. Dump the spouse. Benton is boring. Your new forays into the mind and psychobabble are also boring.

4. Go back to the morgue. Yes, it's been done a billion times since you introduced it but readers still like it and you still do it better than anyone.

5. Take a lesson from Sue Grafton. U is for Undertow just hit #1. The Scarpetta Factor did not. Kinsey's still Kinsey. Kay is no longer Kay. There's no more sharp tone, sharp heels, dread, bad dreams, bad tempers, worry, loss of appetite, compassion, sleepless nights, wry banter with Marino, ability to work 5 days straight without changing clothes .... We want that back. None of this idealized version you've given us, with everyone lusting after her or admiring her or losing it while she floats above it all in her highrise apartments. What happened to her gardens, the fresh tomatoes, the cooking? Highrises are so sterile. Benton is so sterile. (The Scarpetta Factor had one cooking scene at the end that felt very contrived.)

6. Stop trying to elevate Kay. She got fired from Richmond. She tried and ended several apparently unsuccessful businesses. With that past no way will she be on CNN hosting the Scarpetta Factor. That would be like you hosting CNBC. Ain't gonna happen. Kay's superiority came from her brains and moral compass -- not her jobs and not her money.

7. But what's wrong with being "just" an M.E. in NY or Boston anyway? It's what we want.

8. Marino is a big, crude, uncouth man. Forever, he'll have wisps of hair and trail his raincoat belt. He's a great cop. Why mess with him? Forget the biker, forget the shaved head. Marino's all about cheap suits. Remember that.

9. Lucy is best in very, very small doses. She's WAY too crazy and a brat and should have been in jail long ago. If you're going to keep her, keep her relatively poor. She got crazier with every dollar.

10. Your own words: "Write what you know." You know cops. You know forensics. You're not a shrink. We don't want you to be.

11. Ditto: "All my science is real." Now it's suddenly "possible." Awful. Stop that.

12. You used to have beautifully written scenes. Now it's dialogue and the most basic prose. "The Monday I carried Ronnie Joe Waddell's meditation in my pocketbook, I never saw the sun. It was dark out when I drove to work that morning. It was dark again when I drove home. Small raindrops spun in my headlights, the night gloomy with fog and bitterly cold. I built a fire in my living room and envisioned Virginia farmland and tomatoes ripening in the sun. I imagined a young black man in the hot cab of a pickup truck and wondered if his head had been full of murder back then...."

That was good stuff.

13. Stay on track. You had a formula: Kay solves a death, someone's after Kay. Sometimes that someone had to do with the case, sometimes not. Simple. Stop taking these unending side trips to nowhere with dog torturers, and weird lonely people. Your bad guys have gone from a gentle man crazy under the influence of drugs (Waddell), to a beautiful and evil mother to the brilliant Gault to increasingly far-fetched fantasies. Werewolves, shrinks, twisted celebs.... Sometimes simple is elegant.

14. Stop being too topical. Your best books -- your earliest books -- are a pleasure, a comfort, to pick up. I can't tell what the economy was doing or who was president. They carry me deep into a world I don't know but find exciting and want to know. I don't want so many reminders of where I actually am.

15. NO SEX. Not with Kay, not with cardboard Benton, certainly not with Marino. Really. At this point it would be like hearing about your parents having sex. Do NOT want to go there.

16. Quantico was a great place to visit. Yeah, yeah, you hate the FBI since you-know-what but they once gave you a wonderful vehicle. Maybe it's time to forgive and forget.

17. You made a huge mistake when you brought Benton back. You made another mistake when Marino did that crazy thing you said he did -- I won't even dignify it by repeating it, it's so out of character. You made another mistake when you made Lucy as rich as Buffett and as lawless as a criminal. The Rocco murder -- too crazy to even address. As readers, we don't gasp and say "brilliant! we didn't see it coming." We say it's out of character and would never happen.

18. You made another mistake when Kay got married (UGH!) and shared her space. Kay was a hero to the unsung, to misfits, to the weak. She's friends with judges but family to Lucy and Marino. (Oddly enough, Benton has never felt like family.) She's somehow diluted by Benton. She's become something less, taken on some of his duller, cooler colors. She seems meeker, removed, out of touch. It's terrible to see.

19. Benton was at least bearable in the beginning. He had a talent (now it's useless psychobabble and navel-staring). He had a twinkle in his eye. Now he's petty and vindictive. For sure, Kay and Benton shouldn't be working together.

20. Get an editor. No, a real one, not your ex- for Pete's sake! One who's not afraid to take a red pen to your work and keep you honest.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


238 of 265 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of the series in a long long time, October 22, 2009
To be frank, I was never going to read another Scarpetta mystery after the last few disasters that Cornwell wrote. However, there the book was on the new releases shelf at the library staring down at me with a silent "read me" plea. Seemed like fate that I got to the library in time to pick up Cornwell's latest entry in the ongoing Scarpetta series. I opened it and started reading with a lot of trepidation as her last few books have been truly dreadful. To sum it up--I was pleasantly surprised to find Cornwell has regained her stride in the series and has written a taut, suspenseful mystery with believable characters and situations. There are a lot of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end.

The series opens with Scarpetta doing pro bono work in New York City as well as fulfilling her role as senior forensic analyst for CNN. During her appearance on the CNN show she is asked about details on the ongoing case of Hannah Starr. The complexity of the mystery starts to weave almost immediately. Her husband Benton and her friend Marino are clashing. Her niece Lucy continues to waiver between the gray areas of the law. But all three must work together with Scarpetta as they race to solve this mystery.

This book still lacks some of the sparkling dialogue of the first books and rehashes old hurts and insults. However, Scarpetta comes of more human somehow as she struggles with the mystery of Hannah Starr, the offer of her own show, her shaky marriage, her injured friendship with Marino, and of course her troubled niece. It is truly nice to see Cornwell once again pick up the reigns of the series and alter course for the better!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


130 of 145 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too long and over-stuffed with technical jargon, October 24, 2009
At 500 pp this book needs serious editing. Parts of it were incredibly boring (mostly the Benton parts) and parts of it were meaninglessly techno-filled. Cornwell tries to dazzle us with all the research she does but the book would be A LOT better if Kay and her world were the focus and the Bentons and Lucys remained minor satellites. In fact, if she cut out most of the stuff she probably learned from the list of people in the acknowledgements, she'd have a stronger and more readable book. Resorting to recycling one of the most mocked and reviled characters in Scarpetta lore was unnecessary, too.

Not one of her best, not one of her worst, but I don't understand what's now a two-book trend of forcing us to swallow 500 pages. She leads us on long and detailed side trips with characters and drama that turn out to be irrelevant and unnecessary and I'm not talking about red herrings, either, but long, winding meanderings: Agee, his hearing problems, Berger and her romance woes with Lucy, the ridiculous voodoo/poo-poo bomb, Hap and his necrophilia, the missing Blackberry and the huge drama surrounding it, the RIDICULOUS and boring psycho-babbling between Benton and an old colleague in the beginning of the book that nearly had me putting the book down for good; the immature Benton-Marino tension that dissolved seemingly in an instant. It's a shame that Cornwell feels the need to keep piling on to keep our interest.

It was interesting that Lucy apparently has lost a substantial part of her fortune. It may be the best thing to ever happen to Lucy as her brattiness and craziness seemed to increase with her wealth. That was an event that I thought deserved more detail and certainly more of an emotional reaction from Kay.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


87 of 96 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Made me angry, November 12, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I believe I have read every book Patricia Cornwell has written. The excellent ones have propelled me through those that didn't click with me. These books have never been "easy" reads, in that the characters seem unnecessarily hard-edged, bleak, and 2 dimensional. But the plots were interesting and I like the forensic aspects, so I soldiered on.

But no more. I see this book as something that was phoned in. The characters have deteriorated to one dimensional. The skimpy inner lives of each one of them reek of paranoia and unhappiness (in a one-dimensional way). Cornwell sees the need to fill in the backstory on each of the characters through contrived, stilted dialog. I suspect padding here. Also, Cornwell uses two descriptors where one would do the job. I used to do that when I was inflating my homework. As an added bonus the additional descriptors give the writing a melodramatic air that to the naive among us could be confused for good writing.

These tricks were obvious when I used them on my homework, and they are obvious now. Once you deduct the awkward attempts to bring the reader current on the characters' lives and the redundant descriptions, there are about 10 pages of interesting writing.

So I must say that I am sorry, regretful that I can no longer purchase, buy, order, read Ms. Patricia Cornwell's books, manuscripts, writings. This makes me sad, blue, cheerless, and dejected.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh, Kay, November 3, 2009
By 
Jim (Billings, MT, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Oh, Kay...what's happened to you?

For years, Kay Scarpetta was my hero. Brilliant, beautiful, strong, emotionally scarred and oh-so human. The initial Scarpetta books, written in the first person, will continue to be some of the best mystery fiction every written. But the more recent Scarpetta books -- those written in the third person -- have been a disappointment, especially this one. In "The Scarpetta Factor," Cornwell continues to distance herself from her character. The once-vibrant heroine is now helpless, preoccupied, scattered, bland, without focus and, here it comes, aging badly. Cornwell seems to have tired of Kay and the people in Kay's life. Kay is no longer a force to be reckoned with; in this book she must be "saved" repeatedly: by Lucy, by Marino, and finally by Benton in an impotent climax that has both Kay and the reader blinking what-just-happened-here?

Most of the action in this book happens "off-camera" and the reader hears about it in a near-epilogue fashion that was disheartening to this avid Cornwell fan. I bought it because of the good reviews on this site, but in all honesty, I would recommend you save your money and read/re-read her earlier, timeless works. I intend to.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


138 of 160 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Patricia Cornwell should be ashamed, February 3, 2009
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Scarpetta (Hardcover)
I have always been a big fan of Patricia Cornwell, and have read all of her books. I was so excited when Scarpetta came out--I ordered it immediately. What a disappointment!!! I'm sure she is laughing all the way to the bank, but I have to say--if this was the first novel I'd ever picked up by Cornwell, it would be the last. It was initially boring, but I kept figuring it would get better. I managed to actually finish it after putting it down several times. Boring, boring, boring. What happened to the old Patricia?? Her first books were her best books. Now it's just blah blah blah, and very pretentious. The best character is Marino. Scarpetta has always been a snob, and frankly, I'm tired of her.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a waste of time......, November 14, 2009
I have been a fan of Patricia Cornwell since her first book came out and I have read them all in order and waited anxiously for the next to come out. I am sooooo over her. She just doesn't have it anymore.

The Scarpetta Factor was just a big waste of days for me. I am a very fast reader, and normally if I really like a book of this size I can finish it in a day two at the most. But I got this book from the library nearly 4 weeks ago and have been trying to read it ever since. I just finished it out of sheer determination.

It wsa too technical.....to bizzare.....to stupid to even comprehend. Too many facts to take in....too many things from the past that just turned to a bunch of jumble. The characters are every bit as pathetic as they have become in her last few books. I am sick to death of Lucy.....she is a whiney excuse for a genius. She lost some money....a nine figure amount....and she is mad. But yet.....she is still loaded with all her fancy cars and jets and helocopters. She is still a mental basket case. She makes me mental just reading about her.

Marino is typical Marino.....but trying hard to change for the better.....too bad he is surrounded by a bunch of over priviledged egotistical counterparts. Scarpetta feels sorry for him because he spends time with a dog at a fire department precinct? Thinks this is a sign of his ongoing depression and his feelings for her. Oh please....I would take a dog's company over boring old Kay and Benton....Feel Sorry for Me Lucy and her Lover of the Month....in a second.

No matter what city they end up in....this time it's NYC.....the world revolves around them. My world has stopped including wasting time on Patricia Cornwell books. I have 7 more Best Seller to read and now I only have a week to do it in because I wasted so much time on this crap. I wish I had my time back again. I think Cornwell's future as a gifted writer is long over. I have not spent a dime on any of her books in ages. Funny to think I used to be at the bookstore the day they were due out.....now I just wait for them to come into the library and not strangely.....it is not a long wait.

I know there will be many people who will not agree with my thoughts and that is great! That is what makes reading so wonderful....we get to use our imagination and form our own images in our heads about things. I just did not get a good image from this book and I was not impressed. I truly hope that those of you who choose to read this book don't feel like you wasted your time because time is a precious thing to waste.

Good luck to anyone out there taking this book on. You just may need it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


56 of 65 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DOA, February 12, 2009
By 
N. King (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Scarpetta (Hardcover)
All of a sudden, Scarpetta has gone from what seems to be a struggling, independent pathology "consultant" in South Carolina, bereft of an official position and attacked by Gorilla Marino, to a highly successful, MARRIED, Massachusetts Chief Medical Examiner, CNN reporter, and - oh, yes - professor at CUNY (yes, there is such a place as John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in case anyone cares). All in the course of less than a year! Is there an installment I missed?

Frankly, I found this book deadly dull. After 135 pages (out of almost 600!), I still didn't know what was going on. I knew who the serial killer was from the moment he walked onto the page, and I have frankly grown extremely tired of Cornwell's dropping every acronym out there (and, of course, explaining what it means to all and sundry - who in heaven's name doesn't know what an ISP is at this point?), even though it breaks up the flow of her writing and has nothing to do with the plot line or story.

Scarpetta's (and Cornwell's) moral rectitude verges on the santimonious, Lucy is as unsympathetic a character as ever, Benton remains a self-conscious jerk, the novel's other chracters are not well fleshed-out as unique individuals. Only Marino is once again quasi-interesting.

Why did I finish this book? Well, the library lends books for three weeks! And it took me nearly that long to finally slam it shut. I guess I keep hoping that her novels will rise to her early writing again (I don't agree with some other reviewers that she's anywhere near her early best). But at some point, disappointment will trump curiosity.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sure Cure for Insomnia, November 27, 2009
By 
I was going to title this review "P-O-S" but decided to be more refined.

I remember the fabulous thrill of reading the earliest Cornwell novels starring Kay Scarpetta. They were like lightning! But in too many subsequent books the characters have become caricatures of themselves . . . and each one has become more boring and tiresome than the last. What a dreary, unhappy, neurotic bunch! Why oh why do these people stay in touch with one another???! I don't want to spend time with them -- my reading hours are precious! If these were real people, I would not accept their invitation to friend them on "Facebook." But as a longtime faithful reader, even though I've often been disappointed, I gave Cornwell yet another chance ... what a mistake!

The character Lucy, who some readers believe is Cornwell's alter ego, has apparently lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the financial crisis. Now the alter-ego thing sounds reasonable -- maybe Cornwell lost zillions in the meltdown and is trying with this book to recoup some financial losses quickly. Or maybe her publisher has been riding her a**? (The downfall of many a great author.)

Regarding Benton: Could there possibly, ever, be a more boring fictional character? Gloomy Heathcliff seems like jaunty Jack Sparrow in comparison to Benton. I've never gotten this guy. What a dour fella. Couldn't this fabulous creature, Kay Scarpetta, come up with a more interesting and passionate love interest? If this is the best she can do, no wonder she's always depressed! Patricia Cornwell, just let Kay be single, OK?

And why are these people always too busy? The most successful people I know always manage to carve out some time--in fact, LOTS of time!--to enjoy the fruits of their labors. The characters in the Scarpetta novels never seem to have time to sleep more than two or three hours at a crack.

Why, for example, would Kay Scarpetta agree to appear with some regularity on a news cable talk show? It's suggested in the book that she does this to disseminate info. Please. The Kay character would go on NPR. Not on a sensationalistic program with a fame-crazy showboating hostess.

It's an awful book, a truly pathetic effort to create some new fabric out of old, old, old threads--and most of those threads were stupid and repulsive (and not in a good mystery-writing way) to begin with, like that hairy villain character and that ludicrous phony death of Benton. I couldn't believe the gyrations the writer (Cornwell or a ghostwriter???) went through to weave together a tale involving so many previous books/villains/characters/plotlines. Cornwell or her ghostwriter managed to pull the very worst our of her very worst books to "solve" this particular mystery.

Ghastly, miserable. I can't believe I read the whole thing. On the bright side, I caught up on my sleep. After devouring the initial pages of laying out the basic story, I could hardly read two pages without dropping off to sleep.

Yet I read it to the very end, simply because I can never NOT finish a book I start. I read it through the entire labyrinthine "plot" that failed to answer anything and that made me so frustrated I wanted to throw the book into the fireplace. This book asks you to go faaaar beyond suspending disbelief.

Can you tell I'm mad? I am. I'm mad that Patricia Cornwell has failed once again to meet her potential. She once was a master writer. Now she's just another hack. Please, Cornwell, if you're not feeling up to the task to writing a really good book, that's OK. You've done your share in the past. Just don't write if you're not really into it! Surely you are earning enough royalties from your good earlier work to keep you going. When you're feeling the muse, write again, but please don't disappoint your once avid fans again with another P-O-S.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars boring, November 29, 2009
By 
Heli Fink (Wilmington / Delaware) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have read all of Patricia Cornwell's books over the years and some were indeed excellent, but lately she has lost that special touch and has come up with some very boring books with screwy plots and repulsive people, with inexplicable motives and this book definitely belongs to that group.......Perhaps Cornwell is trying to elevate the genre of forensic mystery to another higher level, by producing this unnecessarily big tome ( 500 pages ) I have no other explanation. Surely, they know about editing at Putnams?

I was approached by Amazon to buy this book before the official publication and I obliged. Unfortunately. Then I was asked to review it.

It you are a person like me, who does not have the time to sit down and read for hours, this book of unnecessarily twisted inscrutable plots, subplots, undeveloped characters, perverse and unexplained relationships and motivations between characters, and other general confusion, makes for a very frustrating and boring reading experience and you quickly lose your thread and interest. It was so boring to me, I never finished the book and passed it on to my husband who has more perseverance and struggled through it. He suggested I read the last 20 or so pages for an explanation and the dénouement, however, I couldn't care less. I would never buy this book again. The book luckily has left my house for a free reading center and was picked up there already by some other unfortunate sucker......

.........The name Patricia Cornwell on a new publication unfortunately no longer guarantees `a good read.'
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 291 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Scarpetta
Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell (Paperback - August 25, 2009)
$15.99 $12.15
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.