#CBR4 Review 09: Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell

17 Jan

This is my first foray into Patricia Cornwell’s novels and I’m not sure what I’ve been doing. These books were basically written for me. Scarpetta is a professionally successful female character with a realistically compelling love life. Here, Scarpetta’s extremely long term relationship with Benton, finally culminating in a long distance marriage, provides enough fuel for conflict but suits her character. Plus, the book was highly technical. I’ve always loved the Temperance Brennan novels (the books Bones is based off of) because the level of technical detail given about forensic anthropology appeals to the science nerd in me. Here, Scarpetta is a pathologist, another high powered scientist using her super powered brain to solve crimes. I love it.

I tore through this novel on my last day of winter break. The book had a lot of unusual plot points – an anonymous gossip blogger, an animal cruelty mystery, an obsessive-compulsive victim, identity theft, little people – that made it reasonably challenging to identify the ultimate killer. Portions of the book were told from the potential witnesses/potential killers’ point of view. This made it much easier to get a sense for the killer as a person, and to give the reader insight into the crime, and keep the reader guessing. While you don’t always know who’s perspective is credible, it’s a neat trick.

What was missing was a crazy cast of side characters. Many mystery novels limit the characters to a handful – usually the protagonist, their superior, a law enforcement officer they work with, and a love interest. But I like some supporting characters scattered throughout the series for comic relief, and to reflect how life actually works. Scarpetta’s “supporting cast” are all very serious, very focused and frankly, don’t seem to have any fun. A little fun, whimsy or quirk to liven the mood once in a while would make the series easier to get through.


4 Responses to “#CBR4 Review 09: Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell”

  1. petalfrog January 18, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    I actually used to read tons of Patricia Cornwell but stopped after Scarpetta for a lot of the reasons you mentioned here. I found the plot virtually impossible to keep track of and was pretty bored by the end. Never thought of it that way, but you’re right that the story has no humor. Earlier incarnations of her books had more light-hearted moments and more cohesive storylines so I would recommend that you read some of the books from several years ago. Her newer stuff just does not work for me.

  2. asoulwalker April 8, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    I actually like several of her earlier books much better than I liked this one. I don’t know if I’m alone here but I felt like this one seemed a little different than some of her others and the seriousness seemed turned up a notch.

  3. asoulwalker April 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    (but I also liked some of her newer ones better than this one… although not the newest one- maybe I’m just too fickle)


  1. HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #09: Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell « Cannonball Read IV - January 17, 2012

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