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A disappointing slide into mediocrity
on 9 November 2009
Very difficult to write about an author whose books have been so enjoyable for many years but there comes a point where you have to draw a line and say that, as a stand-alone book, this would struggle to get a follow-up and, as part of a successful series, doesn't deserve one. This gets a single star for loyalty across many wonderful books.
I thought it was just me and my high expectations but the last few books have been 500 pages of meandering plot followed by the quickest and laziest endings I've ever read, by any author, all inside a mere couple of pages. No tension, just the feeling of impending disappointment again as you realise you are within 5 pages of the end of the book with no direct action involving the baddie, just speculation. I am still reeling from the sense of injustice that I have fallen for this con a few times now, thinking she can't get away with it again. Mugged again and I won't spoil the finish because you won't believe me anyway.
If you've read the previous few, you know what I mean, a plodding plot, minimal character development and a sense of boredom in the writer that comes across in the text. I started the first few chapters of this book thinking I'd missed 100 pages of set-up and the sense of dislocation persisted throughout. I, like many others, probably bought this under obligation from reading all the others but, as a first read, I would not recommend it at all, stick to the first 6 books which are fantastic and Scarpetta spent some time at work and contributed to solving crimes.
It has been suggested before that Cornwell is profiting from the cash cow that Scarpetta is (always a concern when the character's name is in the title, a wrong committed by James Patterson too), under contractural obligation to produce a few books for her fans but a non-existent plot, lack of set-pieces, pointless tangents and no character development lead to one of the most disappointing and frustrating reading experiences I have ever had.
I understand that this will disappoint some and if you feel you need to buy it, wait for the paperback or borrow from another disappointed friend. A week of my life I won't get back I'm sorry to say.