How does Patricia Cornwell manage to keep her literary batteries charged? Long-time admirers always breathe a sigh of relief when (after various experiments and diversions) she brings her signature character Kay Scarpetta back to the fray. But the author is savvy enough to realise that it is (occasionally) a good idea to ring the changes, which she did successfully in such non-Scarpetta books as The Front
, with a Massachusetts investigator assuming centre stage. But, let’s face it, it’s her new book, The Scarpetta Factor
that is going to be the real crowd pleaser, with her single-minded forensic anthropologist back on the case.
Since the groundbreaking Post Mortem which introduced the character, there have been some ups and downs in terms of Cornwell’s achievement, but nobody could deny that the author has earned her poll position at the top of the crime-writing stakes by dint of her remarkable narrative skills. Are those skills on full throttle here?
In the week before Christmas, Kay Scarpetta, suffering (as are so many of us) from the credit crunch, decides to work on a pro bono basis for the office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City. But Kay finds the spotlight this puts her under is not a comfortable one, when she is asked (during a live broadcast) about the disappearance of a wealthy woman, Hannah Starr, who is presumed to be dead. This is followed by a strange call from an ex-patient of Kay’s psychiatrist partner, Benton Wesley -- and Kay finds a suspicious package when she returns home – is it a bomb? She finds that the missing woman had secrets she shared with Kay’s gay niece Lucy.
Perhaps this isn’t Patricia Cornwell at her most adroit, but it’s much more than a routine outing for Scarpetta. Admirers will want to pick up The Scarpetta Factor. --Barry Forshaw
--This text refers to the
Cornwell has never written better (Evening Standard
The Scarpetta Factor is a novel that has clearly engaged Cornwell in the same fashion as her vintage work (Independent
The Cornwell phenomenon goes on (Daily Mail