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3.3 out of 5 stars365
3.3 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 30 October 2009
I loved the early Scarpetta books and reread them until the characters were like old friends. In the last couple, however, I no longer recognise these friends. Scarpetta Factor continues the trend. In fact, I question the title choice since Scarpetta hardly features in it. We have Berger and Lucy and endless technical jargon which would be boring even if I understood half of it! Benton seems to have undergone a metamorphosis where his vocabulary has shrunk to the f-word (whereas he never swore before). Marino is a lost soul. The plot revolves around victims we have not met and know nothing about. The hitherto fascinatingly repulsive Chandonne is now a pantomime villain. Patricia Cornwell has lost touch with readers who loyally buy her new books. She needs to get back in touch with the characters she created and who, like her readers, deserve better than this pretentious prose.
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on 10 May 2010
Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of PC and the Kay Scarpetta series. This notwithstanding,I ploughed my way through The Scarpetta Factor hoping it would improve but sadly it felt like a bloated diatribe about powerful persecuted women, lesbian relationships, Pete Marino's attempted rape and Benton Wesley's continuous hand-wringing. It seems to me that PC is increasingly using these novels to demonstrate how well informed she is and if I have to try and remember what one more set of bloody initials stand for I think I'll die of boredom. The character of lesbian Lucy is tedious beyond words and her continuous flying around in a helicopter like GI Jane is ridiculous. Pete Marino's overhanging midriff makes its regular appearance and Wesley's still whining - well what a surprise! As for Kay Scarpetta she continues to rise above her flawed little posse like a cross between Princess Diana and Dr Quinn Medicine Woman. The plot is so heavy it's like trying to backstroke through mashed potato and she obviously can't dredge up anything new in terms of plot, because we're back with the 'hairy one' Jean-Claude-Baptiste Voulez Vous Coucher Avec Moi Chandonne and his 'crime family' - hardly The Sopranos are they?

Look WE GET IT. Lucy's gay, Marino's a fat sex offender and Benton's a baby. Ms Cornwell needs to get some new material because this was lazy, dull and a waste of three days of my holiday which I won't get back.
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on 22 October 2009
I loved the first half-dozen Scarpetta books with their taut plots, the put-upon and appealing main character, and the complex mysteries. I hadn't minded the repetition such as Scarpetta always becoming the killer's chosen next victim, as that was the series' format. But gradually the stories became meandering and I stopped reading.

Having missed about six books I came back to the saga with a fresh mind, but I hardly recognized this story as belonging to a series that included such gripping novels as The Body Farm and Cruel and Unusual. It's very rare for me to give up on a book, but this one I couldn't finish. It's perhaps unfair to review a book I only half-read, but then again the author didn't care enough to write with due care and attention and I doubt a capable editor worked on it, so why should I worry?

The plot is hard to follow and what I could work out was the opposite of a page-turner. The set-up promises some celebrity satire, but the story is humourless and dreary. Scenes don't flow. Dialogue is just random chatter and whining. There's no tension as I didn't care about or particularly believe in the mystery, and the new format of multiple points of view just appears to make it easier to add irrelevant diversions. Everything is explained in a condescending manner that gave me visions of the author making notes for research assistants and them quoting unnecessary detail they'd found on the Internet. In the early books the detail felt real and necessary and gave the books authority. I believed in Scarpetta's world. Now I don't.

Worst of all, the characters are no longer the same people I last read about. The only link with the Lucy I remember is the name. Scarpetta herself is now insufferably smug. She didn't irritate me before, but she does now with everything she says and does. Perhaps that's by design, but it's not a design I like as I want to be able to empathise and care about the supposed good guys.

For me anyhow this series has collapsed under the weight of its franchise obligations. I'm sorry to say that as I really did want to enjoy a good thriller mystery. Judging by its position in the selling charts I assume lots of people love this meandering style of thriller and I'm in the minority with that view. In fact I checked the reviews here two days ago, wondering if my growing irritation was down to me being overly picky, and the glowing five star rating here and the huge number of reviews lauding this book on the US site encouraged me to give it another couple of nights. But it still didn't click. Please don't shout at me. That's just my opinion! It doesn't stop anyone else from thoroughly enjoying this book!

I rate the early books in this series as masterpieces, but as far as I was concerned this came over as a lazy contractual exercise that exists for no reason other than to get people to part with their money, and no matter if I'm out of line in not liking the current style of the World's Number 1 Thriller Writer, I won't be doing that again.
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on 10 October 2009
The last couple of Scarpetta's outings have been less than exciting and this one is even worse. It doesn't get going until the last quarter of the book, the murderer is obvious from very early on and there is very little to hold your attention. The ridiculous plot from the last book about Marino's attack on Scarpetta was ruminated over so much I was sick of it. Then it was swept away by everybody forgiving him almost instantly, even Lucy who was supposed to be hunting him down to exact revenge! I feel like Patricia Cornwell isn't even trying anymore. It's as if she thinks that she can get away with writing any kind of dross because Scarpetta is so well known. Not so! We readers will only take so much and then we desert and move on to writers who know how to put a good thriller together, like Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter, which I have now done. I gave Scarpetta one last chance but I'm done reading the rubbish this is fast becoming.
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on 22 January 2010
Having been a devotee since book one - I have been so disappointed by the last few in the series. After 'Scarpetta' I decided that I definitely would not buy another one - I was given this for Christmas.........thank goodness I did not waste a penny buying it!! What on earth has happened to Patricia Cornwall's dialogue and plot construction. I used to care about the characters now I could not care less, they have become one dimensional cardboard cutout stereotypes and as for the technical and psycho babble it becomes ever more tedious. It was so laughably easy to guess who the 'villain' was and why not make him more central and compelling as he used to be, the Jean-Baptiste we knew would not send smelly herb bombs - Scarpetta's description of just a few scars and capped teeth being the only signs of cosmetic surgery were risable. If you are new to this series do not bother to start with this one - go back to the beginning which were clever, classic and tightly written and then stop around Black Notice!
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on 21 May 2010
I have been a Cornwell fan, ( well, Scarpetta fan, I never really got on with the others ) ever since The Body Farm many years ago. I wait eagerly for each new novel and pre-order them as soon as I can. I did the same with this one, and have never been so disappointed. This is no Scarpetta novel the standard of previous ones. As the above reviews have put more eloquently than I ever could, the characters have no substance any more. And what I loved about the early Scarpetta novels, the forensic pathology part, is completely missing. I started this book over a month ago and I'm only up to page 345, this has never happened before, I normally read them in 2 days tops, they are usually "can't-put-down-able", sadly not this one. Even my husband commented "This one hasn't gripped you has it?"......erm, no, it hasn't. 345 pages in and basically nothing has happened, it's the most boring Scarpetta novel EVER. I will finish it, as I always finish a book, but it will be an effort. I sincerely hope Patricia goes back to her earlier winning formula or I'm afraid she is going to lose readers of what has been up to now, a fabulous series of books.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 November 2009
I tried reading this after reading a series of wonderful novels in a row (the new Boris Akunin, a John Cheever novel, a Richard Yates, the new Raymond Carver, and the last Stieg Larsson), which really set me up badly. All of those were fantastic novels (some literature, some just wonderful thrillers like the Larsson), and all of them gave me something that was worth my time in terms of either enjoyment or beauty or deep-seated truth, or lexical dazlling. This does nothing of the kind, and is thus worth nothing. I don't have any patience with trash any more, and I literally threw it hard at the floor after about 200 hundred pages, mostly because i was frustrated with myself that I'll still bother with such obvious rubbish. No more. There are far too many wonderful novels to read (it's sad that her earlier novels qualify for that and her later ones don't; I've given this two stars because of the pedigree, not it's own merit). Just don't bother. Seriously.
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on 7 April 2009
Another Patricia Cornwell book bought at the airport for some choice holiday reading. Or so I hoped. I have to agree with some other readers who gave this a low rating. The plot has been dealt with in other reviews, so I won't dwell on it too much. The mystery of the "midget murderer", who turns up at a psychiatric hospital in New York, begging Scarpetta to examine him. There's plenty of attention to forensic detail as you expect from Ms Cornwell, a lengthy description of a REALLY repugnant crime, and for once, a good and exciting ending (unlike the damp squibs that Cornwell can sometimes serve up). But Cornwell's writing has gradually got more dense and bogged down with technical issues (aside from pathology, how computers work, the internet, for example) at the expense of creating a page-turning read. At times, it's like reading a manual. Characters - even the killers - become more unbelievable in terms of their modus operandii. This is not The Body Farm, an intricate and involving story centred on a particular pyschological problem, nor one of the excellent "werewolf" novels in the series. Also, I'm a little tired with her recent books containing characters who have a personal vendetta against Scarpetta, and who are out to ruin her reputation via modern media outlets. In the previous two books it was Dr Self, the cable TV agony aunt. This time, someone is defaming Scarpetta via a blog. Why does Scarpetta attract such out-and-out psychos with the time (and the money) to wage a media war against her? Seeing how mud seems to stick to those in the public eye caught up in scandal, it's a wonder that Scarpetta has managed to rescale her former professional heights since retreating to Florida, given how much negative press must have built up around her. Sadly, I found this to be a rather tedious read and for once, did not enjoy it as a holiday read; there was a book-swap at the hotel so I left it behind for someone else and took an old classic off the shelf instead!
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on 10 January 2010
I have always loved reading Patricia Cornwell novels and whilst the last couple of releases in the Kay Scarpetta series have been a little disappointing, I stayed loyal to the series. This is the last Cornwell book that I will read unless I see reviews indicating that the old Patricia Cornwell is well and truly back. There is no tense, page turning thriller here. There is boredom, and tedium, and going over a lot of old ground, again and again. How many times do we have to go down the Benton guilt trip or explore Lucy's hangups or Marino's dark side. We know all about them, - if they need to be mentioned, do it in a sentance and move on but don't dedicate pages and pages to them, please. The jacket tells us about all about Patricia Cornwell's fellowships and her connections to various institutes related to Forensic Science and medicine. Sadly, this incredible wealth of experience does not seem to have added an edge to Ms Cornwell's writing. Instead it seems to have dulled it as she treats her reader as a pure novice and goes into such tedious detail about every minutia that her story's momentum is lost. A very disappointing read all round.
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