on 28 November 2012
I was hoping that Ms Cornwell had broken away from the template she has adhered to for the last few books. Employee betrays trust placed in them by Scarpetta. Lucy and other family members keep secrets from Scarpetta. Marino betrays Scarpetta. Animal interest, this time Shaw rather than Sock. I really do not need another blow by blow floor tile by floor tile description of the Scarpetta HQ building either. I've read all Cornwells' other books and I'm afraid this will probably be the last, unless something changes. Sorry but this was predictable and tedious.
on 18 December 2012
I have read all the Cornwell books and thoroughly enjoyed them until about 3 books ago. I agree the another reviewer, and will not be giving away the plot - the angst did it. If Ms Cornwell wants to write a book about a paranoid middle aged woman then she should do it and not ruin our enjoyment of Kay Scarpetta and her life. Not sure if i will ever be going back to Ms Cornwell unless she gets back to basics, lots of bones, lots of intrigue, lots of Lucy and Marino and less of the 'does my bottom look big in this stuff'. I do enough of that myself!
This excellent package of 10 cd's from Patricia Cornwell is appetising and offers so much...except for the droning sound of the American voice that reads it. My wife walked in the room and summarised things perfectly by asking whether they had used a computer generated voice? I love American voices, but this lady is not a good example! The voice is probably very good if you are American, which is of course the big market, but for the Brit's this is a mistake.
So, the content is barely heard for the accent, but what was heard was very good; but by disk 2, I was pulling my hair out.
I persisted to give a fair review but every single disk is tarnished by the same lack of enthusiasm. The voice has very little emotion and made the experience a tiresome one.
I am sure that this would be a great book to pick up and read, but one of the most dissapointing audiobooks that I have ever listened to.
on 28 December 2012
To be honest I have not particulrly enjoyed her last few books and with this one I still never felr particularly riveted. If I had been at home rather than holiday I might have abandoned it
This is the 20th outing for Cornwell's character Kay Scarpetta.
Please note that this review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS - read on at your own risk.
There is an incredible amount of detail in the story - detail upon detail upon detail upon detail - so much so that, at times, it is like wading through thick mud. You will find you are making little headway and then all of a sudden you are galloping along at full tilt and the nag you are on has definitely been taking some highly potent banned substances.
The murder takes place early on in the book and is then seemingly forgotten in the plethora of detail and technicalities. It is only as she approached the last chapters that Ms Cornwell seems to have realised that there was a murder to solve - and here we get the old Agatha Christie favourite of "X - the unknown" - a character that has not, or in this case has barely, been mentioned before and has no visible link to the crime other than the author laying the blame with them.
In fact the only way that Ms Cornwell can bring the killer into the story is when he kidnaps Scarpetta her from a car park. I was suddenly filled with the overwhelming urge to shout "oh come on!" for a couple of reasons:
1. The character had appeared previously, but only in passing and there was no indication anywhere in the book that he had anything to do with the murders in any way.
2. When the killer was revealed I was forced to skim back in the story to find out who it was and where he came in. This is because the mention of his name was merely in passing and, again, there was no indication that he was a character of interest - he was literally nothing more than an extra, someone in the background of a single scene and has a tiny speaking role in another - and that requirement to look him up to see who he was could have been overcome by a summary paragraph or two at the end in the tedious Scarpetta makes pizza scene.
I'll be honest I like murder mysteries because I like to see if I can work out "who-done-it" before the author reveals it, but here there is no opportunity to do that because of the lack of indication as to the identity of the murderer.
The end of her rival for Benton had me wondering about the genius of the killer and how he had come up with a form of transport which would let him be in two places almost simultaneously.
How could he be kidnapping Scarpetta and be killing Douglas Burke at the same time - it can't be done because Douglas speaks to Scarpetta face to face only a minute or two before she (Scarpetta) arrives at the nursing home - she spends a couple of minutes talking to someone there and then leaves - he (the killer) kidnaps Scarpetta from that car park and takes her in her own vehicle on the LONG drive to the murder site - and at some point in this brief time he kidnaps Douglas and lures her into the kill room and disposes of her and gets back in time to kidnap Scarpetta. He must have been supersonic.
According to Scarpetta Douglas must have gone to the kill site before the killer left to see his mother - except that Ms Cornwell had already said that Scarpetta passed the killer as she was arriving at the nursing home and he was leaving. She had only just arrived so the timing is impossible.
Also Burke was all against Marino laying the murder at his door and then suddenly she was all against the original suspect - why the change? It's not explained and it seems very false - just an excuse to get rid of a character.
The biggest problem, however, is the development (or more correctly reverse-development) of the Kay Scarpetta character.
It has become more obvious over the last few books that Scarpetta is a Mary-Sue type character, but as I was making notes for this review I realised something else had happened.
Kay Scarpetta is now completely conceited, arrogant and self-absorbed - everything that happens either happens to Kay or because of Kay. Here her mind is full of mistrust and paranoia; and rather than the intense work orientated Kay with the ability to empathise with the living as well as the dead she is hard and unfeeling - not even an injured creature can rouse the slightest emotion.
She doesn't trust her own employees to perform the tasks that they are trained for and they must be told what to do and when by her. Only she can perform the autopsies and anyone disobeying would be made to understand her anger and their own lowly position in her scheme of life. As far as work goes she is utilitarian and domineering; performing aggressively when angry or upset.
Her arrogance doesn't just show in her `I'm the best at everything attitude', but it shows in her behaviour towards the others who she obviously perceives to be beneath her and towards anyone who may hold sway over her - such as the criminal court. Scarpetta is subpoenaed to appear at a given time and decides that she will turn up when she feels like it. Then because she is subject to a fine by the court for her deliberate insult (most people in her place would have been lucky not to be held in contempt) she excuses the punishment by deciding that there had to be something going on between the defence lawyer and the judge. Just another day in the Scarpetta conspiracy filled, persecution complex life.
Oh yes, the world revolves around Kay Scarpetta - men (young and old) want her - they idolise her, they desire her (how old is she supposed to be now?); women want to be her or to destroy her - to usurp her position, to undermine her, to steal her husband, and so on. She is always the victim.
She is only interested in other people as her conquests or her enemies. In fact, it would appear that, even her beloved Benton is barely tolerated and niece Lucy is not to be trusted. Midlife crisis anyone?
She has become a bully and takes pleasure in demeaning others, especially for what she perceives to be betrayals or personal affronts; both of which are met with the demeaning and destruction of the transgressor for her own self-gratification. It is here where her lack of empathy shows at its greatest form.
Her true interest, however, is in the "game" - the murder.
It has become apparent that the Kay Scarpetta character is a psychopath.
Benton seems to spend as much time away from her as possible and it would appear that he has become somewhat downtrodden and definitely not the strong FBI agent that he used to be.
Lucy is almost as arrogant as her auntie Kay - which is a little strange. Don't get me wrong she's always been an annoyingly arrogant and bratty character, it's just that I used to see it as the other way round - Lucy worse than her aunt.
Even Marino, the hard as nails ex-cop, has become an even more unpleasant character. There were times during a seemingly never ending conversation between Scarpetta and him that I wanted to tell them both to shut up. Worse is the fact he is now a racist, anti-Semite and general bigot to go on top of the other sins he has committed in the previous couple of stories.
This was not a return to the "original Scarpetta" as the bumph states but the further degeneration of a character that I once liked.
Sadly I will probably try the next one as Scarpetta has been a feature of my reading life for such a long time; it is just a shame that she is not the Kay of old but an unpleasantness that I hope will change for the better rather than continue this decline into psychopathy.
I am a big fan of audio books, of pretty much all genres. Occasionally, I get one that I have to force myself through, but thankfully those are usually fairly short. Unfortunately, this Patricia Cornwell audio book, "The Bone Bed", is both one that I had to force myself to finish and is quite long. Not a good combination.
Even on disc one, I found both the writing and the narration annoying. It wasn't just poor, it was actually annoying. The writing felt like it was trying to demonstrate the author's knowledge or research, rather than to be something that provides the listener with something to enjoy. This was then made worse by the author's pretentious choice of words - trying too hard to demonstrate her apparently superior knowledge of language, when all it does is to make listening unpleasant (I was about to say hard work, but that's not true - it's just unpleasant).
Whilst the writing did give an easy visualisation of the characters involved, particularly their temperaments, the narration exacerbated the irritating traits (I guess this means the narrator did a good job, or does it?). Unfortunately, if a character is written to be lacking in confidence and making up for it by being loud and obnoxious, then the narration exaggerates the effect of what has been written, every section about or being spoken by the character becomes unpleasant to listen to. Not good.
Sometimes when there is something annoying about the first disc of a multi-disc set, you find over the course of the first couple of discs that you become numbed to the pain and then cope with the rest of the set better. I didn't find that happened with this book.
So, despite Patricia Cornwell's previous successes, this particular audio book is a tedious, irritating listen. Any positive things I can find to say about it are unfortunately outweighed by the negatives. I therefore cannot recommend it. Sometimes when I find myself writing a negative review (on the whole I give more positive reviews than negative) I wonder if it is just me missing something, but given the number of other reviewers giving this 1 star, I am at least consoled by not being a lone voice on this one...
on 13 December 2012
I used to love Kay Scarpetta novels but those days, I fear, are long gone. There is no doubt that Patricia Cornwall can write, but I no longer feel she is a storyteller. However, my review may be tainted by the fact that I can no longer find a character in the book to either like or care about. They are all totally non-sympathetic. I found myself thinking "who cares about these people, they're all getting on my nerves" so regardless of whether or not the story is any good, and it is ok, I just didn't care. I've been buying these books out of some sort of habit or loyalty to the earlier stories, I will stop now. If Kay Scarpetta were a real person and I ever met, I'm sure I couldn't spend longer than 10 minutes in her company without wanting to slap her!
With apologies to all Patricia Cornwell fans I did not enjoy this at all. This is one in a series of Kay Scarpetta books. Scarpetta is supposed to be a forensic genius but there was not a lot of that genius on show in this near 11 hour audio book.
The story was padded out with over blown flowery descriptions of nearly everything that it was possible to mention. At one point in the book there was a remark that a picture is worth a thousand words. I am sure Ms Cornwell believes that and wrote many thousands of unnecessary words in this audio book.
There was no direction to the plot and it seemed secondary to the ups and downs of the relationships between the main characters. Finally with the last CD of ten just about to end the murderer was revealed. This was not by any detective or forensic work but by an improbable set of circumstances set up by Scarpetta's incredible niece who just happens to be brilliant, owns a estate and mansion, a twin rotor helicopter, rides Harley Davidsons and also happens to have a few Italian supercars on hand and is a lesbian. After this improbable ruse the story just then fizzled out and I then decided that this was the last Patricia Cornwell for me.
This is a captivating novel, arriving earlier than expected and disrupting sleep pattern. The reason is that it keeps the suspense and interest flowing throughout. Wanting to know the next point of thrilling tension locks the reader in. Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta is right back into the heady drama of investigative forensic science. A mysterious e-mail and video arrive taunting her to examine the case of a palaeontologist who is missing and later found dead in Alberta after studying a dinosaur bed of bones. Kay finds this is just a link with other sinister and macabre murders that point to a relentless killer. The details of the discovery and circumstances of the fatalities are for Kay to find out. These challenges are not without danger. They take her on her many travels. Resolving the mysteries the bodies that are found in such odd situations (attached to a turtle, pulled out of rivers), puts Kay onto the scent of something more sinister.
Meanwhile, partner Marino seems to have resorted to an alcoholic relapse of bizarre vodka drinking whilst Kay's husband, Benton, gives out signals he may have made a new aquaintance. Niece Lucy continues with her data skills but is behaving oddly; puzzled, keeping secrets from her aunt and talking in an uncharacteristic way. Is there something amiss? Where has she acquired an expensive piece of jewellry from? These all add to the relentless exploration of the main protagonist's pursuit of the truth, adding to the narrative. Kay turns to an old psychologist friend, Anna Zenna, for support in her troubles. Who is the villain and why?
This is a compelling book and difficult to put down. It keeps the momentum and pace running at speed from the opening. I enjoyed her last novel but this is a step-up to Scarpetta and hence Patricia Cornwell towards their best. A joy to read and difficult not to award top marks.
on 23 August 2015
Miss Cornwall's first few books were wonderful. A mature, intelligent woman investigating interesting crimes was a break from the usual male detective. Somewhere along the line Miss Cornwall decided to write a cross between a detective novel and a TV soap-opera. There are now lots of characters and she seems more interested in their backgrounds than in the crime itself. I don't care about Marino or Benton or Lucy. Perhaps Miss Cornwall should re-read some of the classic detectives i.e. Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. The point of a detective novel is the detection of a criminal. It's that simple. I am trying to read The Bone Bed but by page 52 I've rather lost interest. I can't follow the plot because I'm too distracted by what's going on with Marino, Benton and Lucy.
The point of a detective story is how the detective approaches a crime. Some crimes are simple - killer kills victim or, more complicated - killer kills lots of victims. The detective tries to unravel the plot by reason, a la Holmes or Poirot or, like Tony Hill, tries to get into the mind of the killer. Anything else, such as the detective's marriage problems, is irrelevant to the plot. Some detective writers get away with distractions, such as Frost, but they are mere details to give the detective some humanity. In the Scarpetta stories they are an encumbrance and distract from what should be good detective stories.
In TV detective stories as soon as the crimes involve members of the detective's families or their close friends I immediately think " Oh dear, now the writer's have run out of ideas."
So, Miss Cornwall, get back to basics - Scarpetta, a crime and how she solves it. A good writer should be able to devise a 1000 plots with those elements. If you can't - then stop writing.