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Scarpetta (Kay Scarpetta) Hardcover – 2008

3.2 out of 5 stars 1,090 customer reviews
Book 16 of 24 in the Kay Scarpetta Series

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Patricia Cornwell's most recent bestsellers include Red Mist, Port Mortuary, and Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper���Case Closed. Her earlier works include Postmortem���the only novel to win five major crime awards in a single year���and Cruel and Unusual, which won Britain���s prestigious Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of 1993. Dr. Kay Scarpetta herself won the 1999 Sherlock Award for the best detective created by an American author.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Twenty years after launching the Kay Scarpetta series, Cornwell returns to form (the last few entries have been disappointing) in this thoroughly contemporary, high-impact outing. Though she lives and works in South Carolina, medical examiner Scarpetta is asked for by name by a man being accused of murder in Manhattan. He says he won’t let anyone else examine him for DNA evidence except Dr. Scarpetta, who is nationally known after making numerous appearances on CNN. Normally Scarpetta wouldn’t abide such an odd request, but her forensic psychologist husband, Benton Wesley, convinces her after evaluating the accused himself. Despite having the victim’s DNA all over him, Oscar Bane insists he did not commit the murder and insists to Scarpetta and to anyone else who will listen that he is being electronically monitored by someone or something and implores them to watch their backs. Initially, Bane seems to be just another paranoid criminal, but evidence emerges to show he just might be on to something. All the while, Scarpetta herself deals with electronic scrutiny of a sort when an anonymous online gossip columnist reveals horrible secrets from her past. Can she convince her colleagues to listen to Bane’s warnings before it’s too late? The blend of forensic investigation and high-tech intrigue will please Scarpetta’s legions of fans. --Mary Frances Wilkens --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399155163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399155161
  • ASIN: B0040RMEXA
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,090 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #874,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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