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Book of the Dead Hardcover – October 23, 2007

3.0 out of 5 stars 759 customer reviews
Book 15 of 24 in the Kay Scarpetta Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Cornwell's 15th novel to feature Dr. Kay Scarpetta (after 2005's Predator) delivers her trademark grisly crime scenes, but lacks the coherence and emotional resonance of earlier books. Soon after relocating to Charleston, S.C., to launch a private forensics lab, Scarpetta is asked to consult on the murder of U.S. tennis star Drew Martin, whose mutilated body was found in Rome. Contradictory evidence leaves Scarpetta, the Italian carabinieri and Scarpetta's lover, forensic psychologist Benton Wesley, stumped. But when she discovers unsettling connections between Martin's murder, the body of an unidentified South Carolina boy and her old nemesis, the maniacal psychiatrist Dr. Marilyn Self, Scarpetta encounters a killer as deadly as any she's ever faced. With her recent switch from first- to third-person narration, Cornwell loses what once made her series so compelling: a window into the mind of a strong, intelligent woman holding her own in a profession dominated by men. Here, the abrupt shifts in point of view slow the momentum, and the reader flounders in excessive forensic minutiae.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It's hard to fault Cornwell for trying to redeem herself after missing the mark with her last few Kay Scarpetta novels, but this new one won't do the trick. The frosty forensic pathologist and her entourage remain as annoyingly self-absored and screwed up as ever, and their emotional baggage once again gets in the way of the story. A lengthy, vivid scene during which a young tennis star is slowly and brutally tortured sets up the mystery, which unfolds in artless leaps, mostly through halting dialogue and occasional forays into the mind of the killer. Once again Cornwell trots out venal characters from previous Scarpetta books; prominent here is psycho-bitch teleshrink Dr. Self (Predator, 2005), who is hoarding information about what turns out to be a string of loosely related murders. Then there's Scarpetta's longtime investigator, Pete Marino, foulmouthed and crude but tolerated, who reveals true ugliness in what may be the best scene in the book. As to forensic detail, it seems right up to the minute, and Scarpetta uses it often in her search for the killer, all the while trying to preserve balance in her personal life. Only for diehard Cornwell fans, of whom there are still many, despite the author's continued slump. Zvirin, Stephanie

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 405 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (October 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399153934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399153938
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (759 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Dear Patricia Cornwell,

I wrote you a letter back in 2005 after you released Trace. I was, quite frankly, worried about the direction that you were taking poor Kay Scarpetta. And I must say that The Book of the Dead has not done anything to set my worries to rest.

I'll start with the things that I liked. I read once that you should always open a critique with things that you like. I liked that you let Scarpetta finally make fun of herself for some of the conspiracies which she imagines are aimed in her direction. It beggared the imagination that absolutely everybody was out to get the poor woman. In this book, many people were *not* out to get her. And that was a refreshing change. And for that I give you an extra star.

But, oh dear, the rest of the book...

First of all, shock schlock is one of the most virulent diseases of modern airplane novels. The world doesn't need another entry in the race to find The Most Sadistic Serial Killer Ever. Just say no. Please work with a nice straightforward killing, and solve it! I realize that this sounds terribly retro. However, I am tired of seeing writers burn their creativity in an effort to imagine a string of ever more icky things to do with eye sockets and bath tubs.

Second, you failed to get my disbelief to suspend. Too many coincidences. Too many links between all the characters and killings. Too much. Way too much. My disbelief actually didn't even levitate, let alone suspend. Honestly, I think that you ought to have a serious chat with your editor on this point. That is the person who should get paid to warn you that you have broken your plot.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't normally write online reviews, but I am taking the time to write this one in the hopes that I can save someone from spending their hard-earned money on this book.

I have been reading Patricia Cornwell since the beginning. I have always loved her characters and looked forward to new Scarpetta novels, even though they have been less frequent in past years.

The last Scarpetta book, "Predator", was tough to get through...and "Book of the Dead" takes it to a new low. It seems as though everything is over-written. Just get to the point, already! Cornwell spends too much time over-describing and not enough time telling the story. It's almost painful to read. At times, I just wanted to put the book down, which is sad. The main characters, once enjoyable, are now conflicted and unpleasant. The story was disjointed and hard to follow, and once the killer was uncovered/caught, Cornwell did a poor job of wrapping up the story and bringing closure to the reader.

If possible, I would give this book 0 stars. Shame on Patricia Cornwell and her editors for bringing this book to market and subjecting loyal fans to such a terrible piece of fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
"Ellen" from Ellen from Atlanta said what I would say in spades. Patricia, my dear, you gave me hours of undone housework reveling in your books; you gave me gore, intrigue and my favorite, forensic medicine. Why was everyone so angry in "Dead"? You left three people hanging in literary space which means you are going to have to write, hopefully not three books, to put them to rest. But then you aren't good at that - Boom! Benson is gone - Boom! Bensen is back - no good explanation. Patricia Cornwell has left the building. Tess Gerritson bring it on - you've yet to fail me!
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Format: Hardcover
Several years ago, I quit reading Patricia Cornwell's novels because they actually became boring and the characters unlikeable. In the past 5 or 6 years I passed up several at both the library and bookstore. This past week, I decided to give her another try. After all, I thought perhaps I had just tired of the genre and maybe they really hadn't been that bad. Or I thought perhaps sometime through the intervening years Cornwell had recaptured the magic and excitement of her first few novels. Alas, it was not to be! This novel is worse than any that I remember, and although I didn't (or couldn't stand to) finish it, I read enough to conclude that the characters were obnoxious, the storyline disjointed, and the dialogue absolutely absurd. I really think this book may have been produced by a very disordered mind, and how it got into print baffles me. If Cornwell is not able to get it together . . . and she probably would have by now if she could . . . she should call her career as an author "Done" and move on to something else.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've never written a review before, but I'm compelled to after reading this latest Scarpetta paperback. I've loved the character and this series from the get go, having read them all over the years. But this book is just plain stupid. It's weak, the plot development is ridiculous, the diagogue is absurd -- there are so many things wrong with this book on so many different levels. I actually wondered if Cornwell wrote this herself or if it was farmed out to a ghost writer. It's nowhere near the quality one has come to expect from Cornwell. A huge disappointment. I think Cornwell is just plain tired of this character and has flat run out of ideas. I'm disappointed and certainly don't recommend this book.
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