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The Scarpetta Factor (A Scarpetta Novel) Hardcover – October 20, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: A Scarpetta Novel
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399156399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399156397
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (878 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson: Author One-on-One
In this Amazon exclusive, we brought together blockbuster authors Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson and asked them to interview each other. Find out what two of the top authors of their genres have to say about their characters, writing process, and more.

James Patterson is one of the bestselling writers of all time, with more than 170 million copies of his books sold worldwide. He is the author of two of the most popular detective series of the past decade, featuring Alex Cross and the Women's Murder Club, and he also writes nonfiction and The Maximum Ride series for young readers. Read on to see James Patterson's questions for Patricia Cornwell, or turn the tables to see what Cornwell asked Patterson.

James Patterson Patterson: Here's a chance to say all the great things the critics would about The Scarpetta Factor, if there were any newspapers left that still reviewed books. Or, as they say in the TV interviews: Tell us about this one, Patricia.

Cornwell: As was true in the last book (Scarpetta), the new one is set in New York City, and it begins with Kay Scarpetta working on the autopsy of a young woman who presumably was murdered the night before in Central Park. While the apparent circumstances of the violent crime say one thing, the body is telling Scarpetta a very different and incredibly disturbing story that causes the prosecutor, the police, other officials, and even Scarpetta's friends and colleagues, to wonder if she's making mistakes or has begun to believe her own legend. While others are questioning and criticizing her, she begins to doubt herself and her decision to be the senior forensic analyst for CNN—an exposure that possibly leads to her BlackBerry disappearing and a suspicious package being left for her at her apartment building. As the intrigue unfolds, the past is no longer past, and she is soon faced with an old nemesis who threatens to be her final undoing.

Patterson: This book is set in New York again—what do you like about the Big City? What don't you like?

Cornwell
: Certainly New York City is the ultimate Big City. By placing Scarpetta in the midst of NYC within its medical examiner's office, I've positioned her on an international stage where anything can and does happen. The machinery is huge (NYPD and the FBI field office, for example), yet the private lives of the characters remain intimate and small. Not only is this a big story about a big-city case that captivates the world, it's also a very close look at the characters and who and what they are to one another in contemporary times. In terms of what I like and don't like about NYC? The only thing I don't like about it is driving there.

Patterson: I often get asked what I have in common with Alex Cross. What would you say you have in common with Kay Scarpetta?

Cornwell: Scarpetta and I share the same values and sensibilities. We approach cases the same way (which should be rather obvious, since I work the cases by taking on her persona). Beyond that, there are many differences. I'm not Catholic or Italian or married to Benton Wesley. I'm not a forensic pathologist with a law degree. I don't have her emotional discipline or inhibitions, nor do I have her professional dazzle. (I always remind people I was an English major who started working at age eleven, first as a babysitter, then in food service!) I don't have Scarpetta's pedigree. But then, she isn't a writer, unless she's writing professional journal articles or autopsy reports.

Patterson
: What's your routine like when it comes to writing? Do you do write every day? On the road? Do you need vacations from your writing?

Cornwell
: I wish I had more of a routine. I begin each book with research that continues up to the very end of the process. But gradually, as I approach the deadline, I sink deeper into seclusion until eventually I don’t even answer e-mails or the phone anymore (unless it's my partner, Staci). I just write morning, noon, and night. The pulling together and completion of a novel is so intense, I'm almost living out of body by the time I'm done. It's the most wonderful and miserable experience imaginable. I would love a vacation but never seem to have time, and I doubt I'd know what to do if you made me "do nothing." In fact, Staci and I have a strange habit of going to foreign lands and visiting their police departments and morgues instead of just hanging out at the beach. I don't write every day because I do so much research, and currently, I have many other responsibilities that keep me busier than ever (filming, involvement with forensic institutes—just the business of life, for example).

Patterson
: What's the best feedback you've had from a reader? Or—what was the best piece of writing advice you've had?

Cornwell
: Frankly, the best feedback was when a reader complained some years ago that he wasn’t sure I liked my characters anymore. And I thought about this and realized I wasn’t sure I did, either. A horrible thing to realize. It was because the series had gone on for so long that it was time to reinvent the characters and their relationships with one another and the world they inhabit. I think this remake is most apparent in the last book, Scarpetta, and I am on a wonderful and invigorating new course that is even more evident in the new one, The Scarpetta Factor.

Patterson
: Bonus question: How do you feel about the Hollywood adaptations of your work? Don't be afraid—let it all hang out.

Cornwell
: In the past, very disappointed, because the projects went nowhere. Now, so far so good. The first films (Lifetime movies of At Risk and The Front, which are non-Scarpetta novellas) air this spring. I had a magnificent experience from beginning to end with the producers, actors—everyone. It's way too early to talk about the 20th Century Fox project with Angelina Jolie, although who wouldn't be excited about her?


From Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Cornwell's solid 17th thriller to feature Dr. Kay Scarpetta (after Scarpetta) finds Scarpetta—who's the senior forensic analyst for CNN—probing the murder of a Central Park jogger as well as looking into the disappearance of Hannah Starr, a wealthy financial planner. Quizzed on-air about previously undisclosed details of the perplexing Starr case, Scarpetta realizes that the tentacles of the case reach further than she imagined. Her niece, forensic computer whiz Lucy Farinelli, has her own reasons for digging into Starr's disappearance, along with Lucy's girlfriend, New York County ADA Jaime Berger. NYPD Det. Pete Marino, another series staple, is also in the loop as a member of Berger's task force. But it's the dark past of Scarpetta's psychologist husband, Benton Wesley—particularly his presumed death in Point of Origin and shocking reappearance five years later in Blow Fly—that binds the disparate pieces together and make this one of Cornwell's stronger recent efforts. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

In 1990, Patricia Cornwell sold her first novel, Postmortem, while working at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. An auspicious debut, it went on to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards as well as the French Prix du Roman d'Aventure prize - the first book ever to claim all these distinctions in a single year.

Today, Cornwell's novels and now iconic characters, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, her niece Lucy and fellow investigator Pete Marino, are known all over the world. Fox 2000 is actively developing a feature film about Kay Scarpetta. Beyond the Scarpetta series, Patricia has written a definitive account of Jack the Ripper's identity, cookbooks, a children's book, a biography of Ruth Graham, and two other fiction series based on the characters Win Garano and Andy Brazil.

Cornwell was born in Miami, grew up in Montreat, North Carolina, and now lives and works in Boston.

Visit the author's website at: www.patriciacornwell.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

733 of 761 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on January 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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?
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238 of 264 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Verlen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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!
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129 of 144 people found the following review helpful By A.R.N. on October 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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.
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