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Scarpetta. She has likened her life to that of Kay Scarpetta in many respects, with both
iami!born, divorced, and worked in forensic departments. "owever, Cornwell herself
worked at a crime lab in #irginia as a technical writer and computer analyst, but not in
any official medical or forensics capacity.
$n the first novels, Kay Scarpetta is a Chief edical %&aminer in the 'ichmond, the State
$n events detailed in the book ()he *ast Precinct( Kay Scarpetta resigns and she locates to
+lorida where she becomes a private forensic consultant.
Kay Scarpetta does return to #irginia for one novel ,)race-, but in novel (Predator( she
becomes the head of the .ational +orensic Academy in +lorida.
"owever in this book, Scarpetta has relocated as +reelance %&aminer to Charleston,
'ecurring Characters //
*ucy is Kay(s niece, who is first seen in the novel (Postmortem ( and she eventually
makes a great deal of money with her computer skills. )his in turn leads her to setting up
the .ational +orensic Academy, in +lorida.
$n the earlier books, Pete arino worked as a homicide detective for the 'ichmond
police department, where he rose to the rank of Captain. "e then 0oins Kay at the
.ational +orensic Academy after retiring from the police force in Predator.
1enton is an +1$ profiler and Kay(s lover ,first while still with his wife, and then
eventually moving in with Kay-.
$n the book (Point of 3rigin( 1enton appears to be killed, however he then reappears in
the novel (1low +ly( having faked his death to try and capture a seriel killer.
Kay Scarpetta relocates to Charleston, South Carolina to launch a private forensics lab of
She is asked to consult on the murder of a 4.S. tennis star, Drew artin whose body,
which was mutilated, was found in 'ome. She then works with the $talian Carabinieri ,A
branch of their police force that is both civilian and military, their elite force as it were-,
and Scarpetta(s lover, forensic psychologist 1enton 2esley.
All struggle to work out anything about the crime, but then eventually Kay discovers
some connections between Drew artin(s murder, and the body of an unidentified South
)he link begins to place evidence in the direction of Kay Scarpetta(s old nemesis ! the
maniacal psychiatrist Dr. arilyn Self.
3verall impressions //
Dead boring is the first thing $ think of. A lengthy, vivid scene during which a young
tennis star is slowly and brutally tortured sets up the story and initially $ was hopeful that
while this wasn(t her greatest book, it was an improvement over more recent publications.
$ was to be left disappointed once again. As the story begins to unfold, so do the same
problems $(ve found in the later books. 2e are still given the switch from first to third
person narrative, and it 0ust pushes such abrupt shifts in points of view, it slows the
momentum. 5ou are also floundering in e&cessive forensic minutiae that 0ust makes you
want to shut your brain off because most of it 0ust flies over your head unless you have
some sort of education or real interest in +orensics( and so can follow it all.
As $(ve said, the dialogue shifts and we(re given occasional forays into the killer(s mind
that often don(t seem necessary and therefore are superfluous to the whole plotline.
All the characters we grew to care about in the earlier books ! Scarpetta, 2esley, Pete,
and *ucy ! continue to revel in anger, 0ealousy, and pettiness, as well as the astounding
situations or thought process that 0ust beggars belief at times.
At one point you find repetition of some words almost 6unbelievable6, and you wonder
who on earth was editing the book to allow it to happen7 Several rules of writing are not
0ust broken by Cornwall in this book but shattered into tiny shards.
+inal thoughts //
3nly die!hard fans can surely find anything to en0oy about this book, and even then $ am
sure this will have some leaving and looking for alternatives out there ,of which there are
some really good writers in this genre-. $ would say don(t waste your money. $f $ could
give negative stars in this instance $ would because it is so dire.
$(m afraid this is a writer living on her past glories, and a publisher who is doing the
same, with no real attention to detail where it should be given ! and far too much
attention where it doesn(t help one iota.
Kay Scarpetta, who makes her 15th appearance in Patricia Cornwell’s BOOK OF THE
E!, is settle" in Charleston, So#th Carolina, where she "eci"es to open a pri$ate
patholo%y practice& Her mission is to help local m#nicipalities that "on’t ha$e access
to the technolo%y she an" her collea%#es o''er& She contin#es to work with Benton
(esley, her lo$er)collea%#e* +#cy, her ,rilliant niece* Pete -arino, a 'ormer cop, a
lon%time 'rien" an" her in$esti%ator* an" .#th, the loyal secretary who has always
'ollowe" Scarpetta where$er she mo$e"&
(hen the story opens, Scarpetta an" (esley are /0i1nsi"e the $irt#al2reality theater
0with1 twel$e o' 3taly’s most power'#l law en'orcers an" politicians, whose names, in
the main, 'orensic patholo%ist Kay Scarpetta4an" 'orensic psycholo%ist Benton
(esley ,oth4the only non23talians5 0in the room1& Both are4cons#ltants 'or the
3nternational 3n$esti%ati$e .esponse 633.7, a special ,ranch o' the E#ropean 8etwork
o' Forensic Science 3nstit#tes 6E8FS37& They are there ,eca#se the 3talian
%o$ernment is in a $ery "elicate position&
rew -artin, a 192year2ol" !merican tennis player who was on her way to win the
:&S& Open, has ,een 'o#n" nake" an" m#tilate" /in the heart o' Pia;;a 8a$ona4the
heart o' .ome’s historic "istrict&5 !s it happens she is not the only woman whose
,o"y has ,een torn apart in recent "ays& The ,i;arre m#r"ers ca#se o#tra%e all o$er
the worl"& r& Scarpetta, e$er stron% in her opinions an" o,ser$ations, %oes hea" to
hea" with Captain Ottorino Poma, a me"ico le%ale in the !rma "ei Cara,ineri, the
military police hea"in% the in$esti%ation& He will ar%#e with her a,o#t her
o,ser$ations an" 'in"in%s thro#%ho#t the in$esti%ation&
(hat Scarpetta an" (esley "on’t know at 'irst is that ,ehin" the scenes, psychiatrist
r& -arilyn Sel', who hates Scarpetta, is "emonically manip#latin% e$ery aspect o'
this case& r& Sel' is "etermine" to take re$en%e on Scarpetta, e$en makin% s#re she
"ies, ,eca#se Scarpetta testi'ie" a%ainst her in a co#rt case that Sel' lost& Scarpetta
has ,ecome her main tar%et, ,#t Sel' has no ,o#n"aries e$en when she is
responsi,le 'or the "eaths o' others& 3ronically Sel' has a $ery pop#lar T< show
where she is 'ree to mess with her %#ests’ hea"s while keepin% her own "ark secrets
locke" away in some "#n%eon where she n#rt#res her psychoses&
Back in !merica, Scarpetta’s niece, a tr#e %eni#s, is 'ollowin% e$eryone’s mo$ements
as she %race'#lly hacks into all o' the comp#ters the players are #sin%& She is
especially intereste" in Sel'’s email con$ersation with someone who calls himsel'
/San"man&5 She an" Scarpetta are worrie" a,o#t -arino who is o#t o' control& !
yo#n% woman picke" him #p at a ,ar an" =#ickly takes o$er his li'e& -arino is a
lonely, #nhappy man who is $ery $#lnera,le, an" this h#ssy knows it& She %ets #n"er
his skin an" ,e%ins a campai%n to ,reak him "own 'or the p#rpose o' #n"erminin%
his relationship with Scarpetta& oes she ha$e a personal a%en"a> (hy in the worl"
"oes she care a,o#t the 'rien"ship ,etween -arino an" Scarpetta>
!s the 'orensic team works a%ainst time, they start to conce"e that one killer is
responsi,le 'or the act#al "eaths ,#t may not ,e workin% alone& His /si%nat#re5 is
stran%e an" %rotes=#e& Scarpetta has always "epen"e" on her int#ition when
workin% a case& She is a,le to see what is /#n"er5 the s#r'ace o' a crime& This /%i't5
emer%es in '#ll 'orce a'ter the ,o"y o' a yo#n% ,oy is 'o#n" 'ace "own in the m#"*
he ha" ,een star$e" an" ,eaten to "eath& This m#r"er can’t help ,#t h#mani;e the
team& !#tomatically, comparisons are ma"e to the other $ictims an" a""s to the
theory that one killer is committin% all o' the crimes& Scarpetta is notorio#s 'or ne$er
closin% a case #ntil she is satis'ie" that e$ery rock has ,een o$ert#rne" to 'in" the
(hile all o' this is #n'ol"in%, personal pro,lems cast a pall o$er the alrea"y tro#,lin%
sit#ation& Scarpetta is tryin% to #n"erstan" what has come ,etween her an" (esley*
she is '#rio#s with -arino ,#t "oesn’t want to lose him* an" s#""enly, her
in"e'ati%a,le secretary, .ose, is actin% stran%ely& Scarpetta is "ist#r,e" an"
"istracte" ,y the e$ents in her personal li'e, yet she mana%es to keep her priorities
in or"er ,y relyin% on her skills an" common sense& Fans e?pect no less 'rom the
in"omita,le Kay Scarpetta&
!ltho#%h Patricia Cornwell ,e%an with a $ery interestin% i"ea, BOOK OF THE E!
"oes not reach the hi%h stan"ar"s o' her pre$io#s works& (hile the ,e%innin% o' the
no$el is en%rossin%, it has %apin% holes an")or too m#ch #nnecessary in'ormation&
She also ,rin%s characters on sta%e witho#t %i$in% them some kin" o' ,ack%ro#n",
which lea$es rea"ers won"erin% what they are "oin% there& ! %oo" portion o' the
narrati$e is "e$ote" to technical "etails, replete with con'#sin% acronyms that "on’t
mo$e the plot alon% in any si%ni'icant way&
Kay Scarpetta and her romantic interest, fellow pathologist 1enton 2esley, are in 'ome,
$taly, where they are consultants assisting the $nternational $nvestigative 'esponse, a
branch of the %uropean .etwork of +orensic Science $nstitutes. )he case!at!hand is the
murder of a beautiful young tennis star, American Drew artin8 her horribly mutilated
body was discovered near the Pia99a .avona. $talian officials, the +1$, and ! of course
Scarpetta ! are eager to solve this most mysterious and most heinous crime. "owever,
there are very few sensible clues. 1i9arre evidence, which is slowly revealed in
protracted e&position and helter!skelter narrative, points to a probable serial killer who
has been given the moniker )he Sandman because of his perverse placement of sand
,from some mysterious, unidentifiable location- into the eye!sockets of his victims.
eanwhile, having hit an apparent dead!end ! at least for the time being ! in the Drew
artin murder investigation in 'ome, Scarpetta, formerly of 'ichmond, #irginia ,at least
until her abrupt departure under unpleasant circumstances-, returns to her home and
office in Charleston, South Carolina, where she ! and her investigative assistant, the
unpredictable Pete arino ! become involved in investigating another ,seemingly
unrelated- case, the murder of a young boy. )hen things get more and more complicated
for Scarpetta ,and for Cornwell(s readers- as Dr. arilyn Self ,(the most famous
psychiatrist in the world( and Scarpetta(s relentless nemesis-, Shandy Snook ,arino(s
latest romantic challenge and the unrestrained daughter of a potato chip tycoon-,
Scarpetta(s niece *ucy ,all grown!up and e&traordinarily resourceful-, and assorted other
characters ,both ma0or and minor, eccentric and ordinary- converge in a slowly evolving
case that involves plenty of intriguing relationships and more than a few surprises !
especially in the final pages which contain the solution to Cornwell(s :;< page enigma.
Pioneering pathologist Kay Scarpetta ,)race, =;;:, etc.- goes up against a wraithlike
killer whose self!appointed mission is to 6relieve others of their suffering.6Practice,
practice, practice. $f only >?!year!old South Carolina tennis phenom Drew artin had
stuck to the court instead of going off to 'ome to party, her tortured corpse wouldn(t be
baffling the $talian authorities, headed ine&plicably by medico legale Capt. 3ttorino
Poma, and the $nternational $nvestigative 'esponse team, which includes both Scarpetta
and her lover, forensic psychologist 1enton 2esley. 1ut the young woman(s murder and
the gruesome forensic riddles it poses are something of a sideshow to the main event@ the
obligatory maundering of the continuing cast. 2esley still won(t leave 1oston for the
woman he tepidly insists he loves. Scarpetta(s niece, computer whi9 *ucy +arinelli,
continues to be 0ealously protective of her aunt. Scarpetta(s investigator, Pete arino, is
so besotted by the trailer!trash pickup who(s pushing his buttons that he does some
terrible things. And Scarpetta herself is threatened by every misfit in the known universe,
from a disgruntled mortician to oracular )# shrink arilyn Self. Cornwell(s trademark
forensics have long since been matched by Karin Slaughter and CS$. 2hat(s most
distinctive about this venerable franchise is the kitchen!sink plotting8 the soap!opera
melodrama that prevents any given volume from coming to a satisfying end8 and the
emphasis on titanic battles between Scarpetta and a series of Antichrists.
1estseller Cornwell(s ><th novel to feature Dr. Kay Scarpetta ,after =;;<(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 4.S. tennis star Drew artin,
whose mutilated body was found in 'ome. Contradictory evidence leaves Scarpetta, the
$talian carabinieri and Scarpetta(s lover, forensic psychologist 1enton 2esley, stumped.
1ut when she discovers unsettling connections between artin(s murder, the body of an
unidentified South Carolina boy and her old nemesis, the maniacal psychiatrist Dr.
arilyn Self, Scarpetta encounters a killer as deadly as any she(s ever faced. 2ith 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. "ere, the
abrupt shifts in point of view slow the momentum, and the reader flounders in e&cessive
)he book opens with a lengthy, vivid scene as a terrified young American tennis star is
slowly and brutally tortured by the man holding her hostage. 3ur lead, Kay Scarpetta, is
asked due to her world renown in forensic investigation to consult on the murder. )he
murder is committed in $taly, while Scarpetta is based in South Carolina. 4pon returning
home, Scarpetta begins to uncover similarities between a murdered boy in South Carolina
and the murdered tennis star. )his sets us the mystery, which unfolds in third person
narrative, using dialogue between the main investigators and occasional forays into the
mind of the killer to deliver the story.
As to forensic detail, it seems right up to the minute, and Scarpetta uses it often in her
search for the killer, all the while trying to preserve balance in her personal life.
1ut by then, we(re in Scarpetta(s life, and it is a mess. Although Scarpetta seems to be
drawing closer to former +1$ investigator 1enton 2esley, her long!time lover, their
relationship remains problematic. 2esley is now a forensic psychologist in
assachusetts, at c*ean "ospital, while Scarpetta has relocated from #irginia to a
private forensics practice in Charleston, S.C. $t(s not simply physical distance that has
strained their interactions. Aealousy and misunderstandings contribute to a situation that
has 1enton using unprintable language even as he proposes marriage. )heir impending !
and unlikely ! union results in complications for both of them, particularly as Scarpetta(s
longtime sidekick, the gruff former homicide detective Pete arino, starts acting on his
frustration and 0ealousy. $n addition, self!serving television shrink Dr. arilyn Self,
Scarpetta(s nemesis from =;;<(s 6Predator,6 is back, this time hiding out at c*ean as
she tries to clear herself of involvement with the man who may be responsible for the
death of the tennis star and, perhaps, others.
)here are actual crimes here for the dysfunctional team to solve. $n addition to the young
athlete(s case, Scarpetta also has the corpse of a boy who seems to have been both starved
and beaten before his death. As always, the details and specificity with which Cornwell
writes about these victims drives home the horror of violent death. $n her glamour!less
version of 6CS$,6 Scarpetta has both a keen sense of 0ustice and a soft heart@ She can
perform autopsies with sober focus but cannot stand that birds freBuently fly into her
windows, killing themselves. "owever, in this outing, the author seems to have hardened
her sensibilities. $n addition to the turmoil that she throws in 2esley(s and Scarpetta(s
courtship, Cornwell seems determined to make all her ma0or characters suffer. 1oth
Scarpetta(s secretary, 'ose, and her tough!as!nails computer!genius niece, *ucy, face
ma0or health challenges. 1ut it is arino who fares worst. Previously a hard!drinking,
somewhat self!destructive type, in this book he(s a walking disaster. Driven by 0ealous
rage to break the rules of Scarpetta(s lab, where he works, he escalates to a dramatic and
dangerous peak. "is attack, when it comes, may be the best scene in the book. )old in the
present tense, it builds with ordinary details@ 6"e kisses her and grabs her, and she turns
her head away, tries to push his hands away, struggles and tells him no.6 $t(s a shocking
scene, very real, but an e&treme turn for a formerly reliable colleague.
)hat flat third!person delivery works well at describing a se&ual assault in progress, but it
doesn(t help in less dramatic scenes. %ven when Cornwell started this series in >CC;(s
6Postmortem,6 her characters had an edge, and Scarpetta has long flaunted her abrasive
attitude. 1ut the recent switch from first! to third!person, the increasing coolness of the
narration, and increasing distance between the characters makes this a hard book to relate
to, as if the author was growing angry at her audience, as well.