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Blow Fly (Scarpetta) Paperback – September 7, 2004

2.2 out of 5 stars 891 customer reviews
Book 12 of 24 in the Kay Scarpetta Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Please don't go there. The past is the past," sighs New York Assistant District Attorney Jaime Berger, who herself was introduced in Cornwell's last Kay Scarpetta novel, The Last Precinct (2000). Alas, many of Cornwell's fans are bound to agree. One fascinating nonfiction bestseller (Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed) later, Cornwell now returns to Scarpetta, formerly Virginia's chief medical examiner. From the start, however, the formidable author is up against the equally formidable task of getting her charismatic main character off ice and back in action. We encounter Scarpetta languishing in a crumbling little rental house in Florida. She has taken refuge there and become a private forensic consultant after she was driven from her job for her alleged involvement in the murder of a deputy police chief. The violent death of her lover, Benton Wesley, the brilliant FBI psychological profiler, has left her filled with an unappeasable grief. When the coroner in Baton Rouge asks her advice on a cold case concerning an affluent woman found dead of a drug overdose in a seedy hotel, it seems little more than a diversion. Yet it becomes clear that the overdose may be related to a fresh string of serial killings. Also disturbing Scarpetta's somber peace is a troubling letter from someone out to kill her, the sick and obsessed death-row inmate Jean-Baptiste. When Scarpetta is at last allowed to get back to business, she is a feisty, independent powerhouse whose capacity to concentrate and observe rivals Sherlock Holmes's. But too much of this book is bound up in retrospective musings about events in previous books. The great Scarpetta, her fiery crime-busting niece, Lucy, and a colorful supporting cast deserve better.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Kay Scarpetta fans will miss their favorite forensic pathologist in this new thriller, as Cornwell cedes much of the spotlight to other characters in the long-running series. Lucy, Kay's defiant niece, and Marino, the bad-tempered, opinionated cop, are here, as are several familiar depraved psychopaths--among them, "Wolfman" Jean-Baptiste Chandonne and his twin brother, who first surfaced in Black Notice (2000). It appears that Chandonne, whose execution date is drawing near, wants to see Kay, ostensibly to reveal information about his family that will ensure the collapse of their Mob cartel and to have her administer the drug that will end his life. But, as usual in Cornwell's more recent books, absolutely nothing is what it seems. Granted, there are some compelling (and gruesome) moments, and a few loose ends from previous books are finally taken care of... Otherwise, though, this is a murky stew, indeed, with action careening in way too many directions. Oh, for a return to the Cornwell who created the tough but vulnerable Scarpetta, who, at center stage, used her intellect and forensic training to solve a more straightforward mystery. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Scarpetta (Book 12)
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reissue edition (September 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425198731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425198735
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (891 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Patricia Cornwell used to write terrific books about Kay Scarpetta, filled with action, suspense and science. Her latest effort, Blow Fly, is terribly disappointing. For two thirds of the book the main characters stumble and bumble their way through the plot, lost in self-pity and paralyzed by neurotic worries. They have become pathetic caricatures, and fill the pages with anxiety and meaningless dialogue. Dr. Scarpetta half-heartedly investigates a brutal murder that turns out to be irrelevant to the flow of the narrative. The book comes to an unsatisfying, sudden ending, as if the author remembered that she had another engagement and had to abruptly end her writing.
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By A Customer on November 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is the last time I buy a book from Patricia Cornwell before reading the amazon.com reviews. No more pre-ordering for me after Blow Fly. I hated Isle of Dogs immensely and didn't even pay attention to her Jack the Ripper book, but I thought "finally, back to Kay Scarpetta" and pre-ordered Blow Fly. Big mistake. I felt like most of the book was taken up introducing new readers to all of the characters and summarizing her previous Scarpetta books. When it finally did get going, toward the end, I kept looking at the number of pages left, wondering how it was possible that I was almost finished when there was obviously so much story unresolved. The answer came when, in the last few pages, she completely rushed through ending the book. She spent a great deal of the book in the Wolfman's mind, but couldn't spare us 20 more pages for a halfway decent ending?
As to the characters and their attitudes/outlook and whether they're realistic or not and the present tense and the third person writing that the other reviewers disliked, I won't pass judgment on that. It was probably part of the overall "yuck" I felt while reading this book, though.
Next time, I'll be sure to read the reviews here BEFORE I give Patricia Cornwell another dime of my money.
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Format: Hardcover
After the last two Scarpetta disasters, I swore off Cornwell. But got suckered back in by the promise of the "old Kay." Well, I got the "old Kay" but from the last two disasters. Tortured, lugubrious characters; improbable, conspiracy-theory plots; and worst of all - written in present tense! How pretentious and very distracting to read. Like it or not, Ms. Cornwell, the prime consideration for a writer is the audience. I suggest you stick with a diary if you feel so compelled to put forth your own agenda at the expense of the reader.
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By A Customer on November 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I wholeheartedly agree with the previous posters. In fact, one review sums up my feelings exactly - "When it finally did get going, toward the end, I kept looking at the number of pages left, wondering how it was possible that I was almost finished when there was obviously so much story unresolved." I thought for sure there was a 'To be continued' in my near future. I was shocked when the answers were supposedly crammed into a few short pages. Did Ms. Cornwell run up against a deadline? The book definitely seemed like merely a segue to the next installment, which will hopefully be much more fulfilling.
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Format: Hardcover
Evidently Patricia Cornwell believes that content doesn't matter anymore and environmentalists everywhere should be up in arms that even one tree was sacrificed to print this book. Ghosts from the past are resurrected so that new characters need not be created, the plot is contrived, bloody and boring, Kay is almost beyond redemption and Lucy should be in prison. I will not read the next book if this plot is continued and I have read them all.
Kay Scarpetta fans everywhere need to send a message that we want the original tough, smart, forensic marvel back.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first starting reading the Scarpetta novels I thought it was fairly clear what the attract was to each story: a viscous but unusual murder, or series of murders was committed, and Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner for the state of Virginia, would be called in to use her forensic expertise to discover and unravel the clues. Remember that this all began after "Quincy, M.E." went off into syndication and before "C.S.I." first aired, so detective stories hinging primarily on forensic investigation and detailed medical examinations of corpses was not as prominent as it was today. Plus there was the entire sub-text of Scarpetta as an extreme competent woman who was always the target of professional jealousy and/or political intrigue. For years my main complaint about the Scarpetta novels was that they rarely provided a satisfactory sense of catharsis, especially with regards to the despicable characters who were gunning for her professionally; they never seemed to get their comeuppance.
But then the novels started to link up in strange and bizarre ways, and it became clear that Kay Scarpetta was the target of a complex and intricate conspiracy. No matter what the crime, and no matter how unrelated it seemed to what had happened in the previous novels, it turned out that it was all part of this giant conspiracy. From this perspective it is not surprising that there is no true catharsis at the end of any particular novel, because in terms of the big picture there is always more fun to come. However, this leads to the key question with regards to this concerted effort to destroy Kay Scarpetta: Why is author Patricia Cornwell out to get her own creation?
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