Just finished it, Cornwell’s first Scarpetta novel. I read it years ago when it first came out and have enjoyed my second read :-). Yes, Cornwell has sufficiently good writing to keep me turning the pages. It’s pacey, first person and present tense, not as breathless as her latest one where she’s really got her system going so I start to tense up as Scarpetta is. It’s a pathologist story, about dead bodies that have been killed in very horrid ways, about a serial killer, about very frightening things. Alongside of the serial killer plot and perhaps overshadowing it nicely the story is also about politics, the sort of politics that happens in local government and/or business where someone is set up as a scapegoat for other people’s sins. In this case the scapegoat is Scarpetta. It brings in sexism and even a wee bit of un-realised racism – from Scarpetta herself! – which is very interesting. despite the first person writing Cornwell gives you a good idea of the other characters, even the relatively minor ones.
It also introduces Lucy who gradually becomes a major secondary character for Scarpetta. Cornwell uses Lucy to expand and grow Scarpetta’s character and does this well. The second lead, Pete Marino, is aqn excellent foil for Scarpetta. I like him :-). At first Scarpetta, who has only recently met him, thinks he’s slow and definitely doesn’t like him; gradualy she learns different and is, perhaps, by the end of the story coming to realise that she needs to grow her own concepts quite a lot in order to understand Marino. He’s a tough, streetwise cop with a lot of experience, a lot of attitude and many prejudices that have grown out of years of watching people hurt each other. He no longer believes people are “all right really” and knows that everyone has a dark side. Scarpetta is beginning to learn this by the end.
She has an interesting love relationship through which Cornwell shows us lots more about Scarpetta’s own character. You can be simplistic and “hate the bastard” for being a bastard but you learn a lot more if you take the time to see him for what he is. There’s a nice question mark left over this man too which is not resolved in this story … don’t know if she ever picks it up again 🙂
Ala in all this is a good book and one that will stay in my library for another read in a year or three. I feel Cornwell writes well enough for me to learn and enjoy new things at a second and maybe a third reading. Here’s hoping 🙂
Decided to go for her second Scarpetta novel straight away so am now reading Body Of Evidence … will report back in due course.