I have been a reader of Cornwell's for a while now. I have really grown to love her characters, particularly Kay Scarpetta, and have enjoyed reading this series. Sure, it has its flaws. But I feel like you don't go into certain novels expecting high literature, but instead looking for enjoyment and engagement.
If you haven't read any of Cornwell's novels before, here's the gist of the series:
Kay Scarpetta: Brilliant Medical Examiner, forensic consultant, amazing cook
Benton Wesley: FBI/Former FBI Behavioral Analyst/Profiler, major romantic interest for Kay
Pete Marino: VA Homicide Detective, overweight, bad health, close friend of Kay, Issues with women,
Lucy Farinelli: Kay's niece, genius, billionaire, helicopter pilot, reckless, brilliant with computers/anything technological or machinery, Joins FBI/ATF, Quits FBI/ATF, etc
This gang of characters always seem to find themselves in the midst of a series of interconnected murders/disappearances/crimes/etc and do their best to solve and save. A whole bunch of forensics, dead bodies, ME jargon, times spent in the mind of the criminals, and some personal stories of the characters mixed in for good measure. The Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell is a well known series within the crime/mystery genre and a good series for people who love shows like CSI, Bones, or Criminal Minds.
Now, onto this book: In this novel Kay Scarpetta has left the ME position in Virginia and has spent the past five years working as a freelance consultant out of Florida. She receives a phone call from her replacement, Joel Marcus, asking her to consult on a current VA case in which a young girl was found dead in her home which takes her away from a much needed vacation with Benton. Very little evidence was found at the scene. When she gets to Virginia she finds out that much has changed and that her help wasn't actually wanted from Marcus. He was told to bring her on by his bosses and he does everything in his power to make Kay feel uncomfortable. And to top it off he has made horrendous changes to the facility and lifestyle of a lab she spent years creating. Her former assistant ME and friend is having personal and health problems that he won't discuss with her. And a nosy FBI agent is trying to meddle where she isn't needed.
Meanwhile, Benton and Lucy have their hands full with another, unrelated case dealing with a potential stalker and are not much help to Kay. Lucy is investigating an attack in her Florida home on her companion Henri that she has kept hidden from her aunt. Henri is staying in Colorado with Benton who is keeping her safe while psychoanalyzing her instead of vacationing with Kay. All of these pieces rest on minute bits of evidence, trace evidence, and culminate in a shocking conclusion that shocks Kay Scarpetta and those she surrounds herself with.
Trace was an interesting read for me. Not that it was particularly educational or a marvelously well written book, but because it was so engaging but somehow left me feeling let down at the end. I feel like I've been reading the Scarpetta series for ages, so I've gotten really acquainted with the characters. It's been interesting (if not a little inconsistent) to watch them evolve. Particularly Lucy. I think she's the most intriguing character of the series and has grown the most out of all of them. I love Kay dearly and find her to be really interesting and intelligent.
As for the plot: it's pretty intricate. I really enjoy the ability to see the story unfold from the eyes of the criminal as well as from those investigating the crimes. It might have a lot to do with the fact that my educational background is in Psychology, but still, it's really interesting to get into the mind of someone whose mind you never really want to get to know. Cornwell also does a really good job of structuring it so that you figure out things alongside Kay, Benton, and Lucy. Despite knowing the criminal, you don't really learn the specifics about him with his narration. It's really masterfully structured.
That being said, I really wasn't that thrilled with the end. Not in the way that I didn't like the ending or what happened, but because it all wrapped up so quickly at the end. There was so much build up throughout the book that when it ended and how it ended it left me feel really cheated out of an ending. I needed more - more conclusion, more fallout, more action. I believed this book as it went along - believed the criminal, believed the work the characters were doing, believed in the process of coming to justice, believed in the torment and danger that was posed to the characters. And then it just ended. To me it just seemed so quick and too neat and well packaged for me to believe the ending.
Like I said at the beginning: not the best literature out there. But it's a good, interestingm and engaging story. And that's exactly what I wanted/needed. So, it worked out for me.
Have you read any of the Scarpetta Series by Patricia Cornwell? Do you like the books? Dislike? Any thoughts?
Author: Patricia Cornwell
Genre: Crime; Thriller
Medium: Soft Cover
Date Read: 19 January 2013
First Line: Yellow bulldozers hack earth and stone in an old city block that has seen more death than most modern wars, and Kay Scarpetta slows her rental SUV almost to a stop.
Favorite Line: Rain slowly slides down the glass as if the night is crying.
Recommended: Mostly. Particularly if you're already invested in the series. Good if you just want a nice fluff read.
Recommended For: Fans of Scarpetta; Crime Novel Enthusiasts
Source: Purchased a while ago
Challenges: Goodreads; TBR Pile Challenge; Off the Shelf Challenge