2013 Reads: Five {Predator - Patricia Cornwell}

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

This always happens with the Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. I read one and then, no matter if I love it or not, I have to read another. I just need to see a little more of those characters, read another novel of crazy crimes and watch their reactions. And I think that, perhaps more than anything else, is what keeps me coming back to this series. Can you really fault a series as bad if you keep wanting to read more of it and spend more time with its' characters?

Anyways, in my last post on this series I explained the main gist of this series and its characters to those of you who may not have ever read any or even hear of the series before. No need to rehash that again in this post, so if you want to check that out feel free to go back and read up!

In this book we kind Dr. Kay Scarpetta working for the National Forensic Academy in Florida - an organization/academy that was fronded by her niece, Lucy, to train the best of the best to consult on the worst of the worst cases out there. She finds herself, yet again, caught up in a web of mysterious murders with strange and horrific evidence which seemingly may or may not link them together. Two sisters are reported missing along with two boys they rescued from an African orphanage. A case, forgotten about for years, deals with the disappearance of a mother and her daughter. A dead woman is found outside of boston with strange body paint on her body. The cases are wrought with limited evidence and little to no motive.

Meanwhile Benton is stationed in Boston working on a research study called PREDATOR that is looking to analyze the brain structure and function of the most repulsive serial killers out there. One of his subjects even relays to him an aspect of a murder committed but never discovered. Lucy is dealing with some serious personal health issues. And Pete Marino is seeing a famous and expensive psychiatrist, Dr. Self, to help him deal with his money and personal issues.

Add into the mix an arrogant and vile new intern at NFA, Joe Amos, and the egocentric and manipulative psychiatrist, Dr. Self. Joe Amos is out to destroy the NFA and all those who operate it. He feels slighted at Scarpetta's desire for all of her interns to be able to do all aspects of forensic pathology - even down to creating the gelatin used for the ballistic tests. Dr. Self is a famed psychiatrist who charges $300 for an hour session, hosts a radio show, and has just started her TV talk show. Her narcissistic lifestyle has her looking at every patient as the next guest on one of her shows; in particular she is interested in bringing Marino into her fold further - from her office to national TV.

Top it all off with one of the most interesting and sick killers Scarpetta has faced and you have one quick moving, hard to put down crime novel.

Like I said before, I enjoyed this book for what it is: a good, gripping, and fast paced crime novel. So, it succeeded on that front. I still enjoy the characters - though Marino totally got on my nerves this time. More so than usual. I think he's a character created to grate on you a little bit - you love him because Scarpetta loves him and because you can see through the shield he's put up around himself with the cigarettes, alcohol, irrationalness, impulsive, and offensiveness. But in this book he goes over the edge for me a little. He's overly irrational. He's overly impulsive. He's overly offensive. I get where it comes from in this book, but I still think he should have/ought to have opened his eyes up a little more instead of thinking the world was collapsing on him and everyone was out to ruin him.

I also felt a little gipped out on a few potentially awesome story lines. Cornwell creates this crazy, intensive plot with Dr. Joe Amos - and then it gets neatly solved at the end. But there are no ramifications for his actions. There's no look at the fallout from his actions on the NFA. I wanted to see the reconciliation between all of the main characters - instead what we got was this general understanding of the characters being like "oh, that's what happened? well, let's not be pissed anymore at all, okay?" I expected a pissed of  Lucy to confront Amos somewhere about stealing her phone. I mean, that is HUGE in this story - and it's just passed off as a minor fact. And a confrontation between Amos and Scarpetta. He messed with her flights and her records and her life. And she never really has anything to say about it in the end?! I also expected to hear more about Amos's girl on the side and what happened to them after the whole thing. I also expected (and wanted!) an awkward meeting between Scarpetta and Marino. And some sort of reconciliation between Kay and Benton when they realized Amos had played them.

I also felt like the Dr. Self plot line was put in place and then not used effectively at all. Her role in the book was rather pointless, in my opinion, except that she happened to have her trees painted for cankers. Her meeting with Marino? Pointless. Her narcissistic ramblings? Pointless. I wish Scarpetta would have done something more with her or edited her out completely.

I can only hope that Cornwell brings up some of these minor characters/subplots into other books. But, most likely, she won't. That's been her habit - things that happen in one book, stay in one book. There have been only a few times where there's been an arching plot point or villain for a few books story line. Those times, in my opinion, are when Cornwell really hits her stride with this series. Showing some sort of continuity between books and developing the pieces of the story she choses to open up.

It was good, don't get me wrong, it just wasn't great.  

Title: Predator
Author: Patricia Cornwell
Genre: Crime; Thriller
Medium: Paperback
Pages: 453
Date Read: 28 January 2013
First Line: It is Sunday afternoon and Dr. Kay Scarpetta is in her office at the National Forensic Academy in Hollywood, Florida, where clouds are building, promising another thunderstorm.
Last Line: They cover their hair with caps and go down the warped old steps, pulling on gloves, covering their faces with the face masks.  [Whited out for spoiler's sake]
Recommend: Yes, if you're looking for a quick, engaging read, but not looking for amazing literature. 
Recommend For: Scarpetta fans, lovers of crime novels, those looking for a quick entertaining read. 
Challenges: Goodreads

So, what are you reading these days? Book recommendations are always welcome! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Do you have any theories about:

    (i) Why Helen/Hog/Jan/Stevie specifically targets our main protagonists?
    (ii) Whether Helen's uncle actually killed some of the victims buried around his abandoned farmhouse himself, or whether his sins were confined to abuse of Helen only?



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