I am not a fan of crime novels but my wife reads them avidly so I decided to give this one a try. This review is therefore written not for the converted but for those who are wondering whether they would like this sort of book. To put this review into context, my favourite 20th Century novelists are, among others, John Le Carre, Evelyn Waugh, PG Wodehouse. What these authors have in common is that they are good writers. I am not sure that Patricia Cornwell is a good writer. For example, early in the book Scarpetta is described as saying something "angrily". This came as a complete surprise because there had been no previous indication either in the dialogue or in the behaviour of Kay Scarpetta that any anger was brewing. Again, towards the end Cornwell describes fire hoses as being "tumescent". Was there any need to describe the fire hoses at all? Would any normal person looking at a fire hose say "That fire hose is tumescent"? Admirers of Patricia Cornwell will argue that the quality of the writing is irrelevant and that what that these books offer first and foremost is a good story and I can confirm that if you want to indulge in some light reading by a swimming pool somewhere hot - as I did - then this would be just the thing for you. If you want good descriptive writing (and I don't believe describing fire hoses as "tumescent" is good) and three dimensional characters and something more than a simple list of events - some related, some not - then read something else. (Just for the record I found John Grisham's The Partner, and Henning Mankell's Faceless Killers equally unsatisfying. If you want to amuse yourself by reading something really really bad try "10lb Penalty" by Dick Francis. It is a classic of mediocrity).