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Port Mortuary (Kay Scarpetta, No. 18) Hardcover – November 30, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Cornwell's compelling 18th Kay Scarpetta novel (after The Scarpetta Factor), her strongest work in years, involves the chief medical examiner in a case that's both far-reaching in its national security implications and deeply personal. The story begins at the real Port Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, where Scarpetta is assisting in developing techniques for virtual autopsies, then shifts back to her recently adopted home at Boston's Cambridge Forensic Center (CFC). A young man's mysterious death becomes even stranger after full-body scans reveal destruction so extensive it's as if a bomb went off inside his body. Scarpetta and husband Benton Wesley-along with her niece, Lucy Farinelli, and ex-cop turned CFC investigator Pete Marino-discover links not only to a government project with the ability to cause mass casualties but also to another grisly case currently under investigation. As Scarpetta's military past rears its head, the emotional damage the investigation of the cases is bound to wreak on Cornwell's steadfast heroine will leave readers eager for the next installment. Long-time fans will welcome the return after a decade to a first-person narration with direct access to Scarpetta's thoughts.
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Cornwell returns to form—somewhat—after the plodding Scarpetta Factor (2009). Told in the first person, the story finds Kay Scarpetta, now the chief medical examiner of the new Cambridge Forensic Center in Massachusetts, involved in a couple of cases: the mysterious sudden death of a man and the murder of a child (whose confessed killer seems to be innocent). Soon she begins to suspect the two cases are related—joined by a piece of high-tech hardware found in the first victim’s apartment—and before too long, she realizes she’s facing what could be her most clever foe yet. For the first time in a while, Cornwell seems genuinely interested in Scarpetta again, giving the novel that spark of life that has made the series so enjoyable for its many fans. The book is still a long way from the glory days of Postmortem (1991) and From Potter’s Field (1995), but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Series fans who have felt a bit let down of late will be pleased. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Print, radio, television, in-person, billboards, Twitter, Facebook, iPhone apps—about the only thing Putnam isn’t doing to promote Cornwell’s latest is a graffiti campaign. --David Pitt
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I do like the fact that the perspective switched back to a first person point of view through Scarpetta's eyes because I think everything should be viewed through her eyes the way they once were. I also thought it was good to shine a measure of light on topics that rarely get talked about in fiction. All of this said, I was still depressed by this book because I know how much better the Scarpetta books can be and I just had a hard time with this book as a whole. And as a final note, I know that hardcore Scarpetta fans will not be deterred just as I wouldn't have been because I just had to know myself, but that said, I found the humanity, the relationships and the basic foundation that makes the series so good to me lacking in this novel.
I had trouble at times with figuring out who was doing the talking and thus following the plot was a problem. I got very tired of references to the South African thing and what role she may have had.
I find it increasingly unbelievable that the character of Dr. Kay Scarpetta would surround herself with all these "flawed" people and then be surprised that their flaws are biting her in the ass. She is suppose to be smart and capable...why else would she be in the positions she is in at various places? It has been a theme since her days in Richmond that she feels persecuted and attacked so this theme in this book is not a new one but it IS getting tired.
I use to love Lucy (whose character reminds me of Clarise Starling of the Silence of the Lambs at least when she was a younger adult). Benton's character in this book is one dimensional and that is sad. I don't understand why characters such as Marino are kept around. It is so unrealistic to believe that he would be put in a position of such stature by the woman he groped/assaulted a few books back. He is as unsympathetic a character as there is.
I have similar comments about the other characters, who in Post Mortuary are stale, predictable and boring.
After reading the reviews for the next in the series, Red Mist, I decided not to spend my money on it. I'll take it out from the library. It may be the last Kay Scarpetta I read.
All due respect to Ms. Cornwell, but it's not always about selling books and the almighty dollar. Is it time for Kay Scarpetta to rest in peace?