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Author: Patricia Cornwell
Genre: Mystery
Reviewed by Kevin Tipple

traceFor Doctor Kay Scarpetta, it has been five long years since she left Richmond, Virginia. Fired from her job as Chief Medical Examiner and run out of town on the proverbial rail, the phone call from her replacement, Dr. Marcus, asking for help is a bit of a shock. He has a case involving a dead 14-year-old girl with no obvious signs as to why she died. Political pressure has been brought to bear on him and he decided to call the one person nobody wanted around five years ago.

Despite her strong misgivings, Dr. Scarpetta agrees to help and travels to Richmond with Pete Marino. While some things have changed, many have not, and she soon has good reason to regret coming back to Richmond. She also regrets the fact that she isn't on vacation as planned in Aspen, Colorado with Benton.

Benton cancelled it at the last minute telling her that she couldn't come. She doesn't know why and all Benton will tell her is that he is working. Scarpetta has no idea that Benton has his hands full with Henri, Lucy's employee, friend and lover, who was recently attacked in Lucy's home. Henri is in Aspen, ostensibly to recover, while Lucy and Rudy work the case in Florida. Lucy has become the target of a deranged psychopath and Henri's damaged psyche may hold the clues to find the man.

Guilt has always been a heavy theme in Cornwell's work almost to the point of being a secondary character. This is certainly true in this novel with its twin themes of guilt and regret where both storylines slowly weave together. And while guilt and regret continue throughout the work, by the end, one gets a sense of hope as things seem to be getting better not only in this book but across the mini story arc of the last several books in this long running series.

So too is the overall read, especially as compared to the chaotic mess of the last novel titled "Blow Fly." This read is much more focused and resolved and does not fly off in so many unnecessary tangents as did the last book. Those that expect a more complex final twist may be a bit disappointed as it is readily evident about the midway point who the killer is, though those involved seem to have no clue despite seeing the same clues as the reader. While slow to get going, as many of the more recent books from this author seem to be, once it does, at around the midway point, it provides an enjoyable read straight through to the end. Hopefully, as symbolized in the book, the author has come through her own rough patch writing wise, and will once again return to the form that made her books compelling and worth reading in the first place.


December 1, 2004 in Mystery | Permalink


Great review! I was a big Cornwell fan up until her last few books. I miss the quality of her early books. I'll give Trace a try, though.

Posted by: Tania | Dec 9, 2004 1:35:10 PM

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