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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
In Black Notice, which is the best Kay Scarpetta novel to date, Patricia Cornwell learns what most great novelists — from Dickens. to F. Scott Fitzgerald to Richard Price — learn at some point in their careers. There's nothing wrong with a little soap opera.
Please don't ask me about the plot because it's sort of all over the place. A lover of Kay's dies. Somebody in her office is out to sabotage her career. Her niece Lucy is in a lot of trouble with some very nasty people. And there's a truly terrible killer running around. All of these story elements work, some better than others, but each is serviceable.
But the tone — and heart — of the novel is about betrayal. Kay's friend betrays her in his death. Her mind betrays her in her response to his death. Her superiors betray her in their cynicism and spiritual corruption. Even her niece betrays her in the chances she takes. She tries to find love and fails. And even when she tries to settle for mere piece of mind, she's betrayed. Her office enemies are relentless.
Cornwell has never written this intensely before. In this novel the subtext is far more interesting — and believable — than the surface. The hints of hysteria and paranoia read like an update of Cornell Woolrich. And her sad, lonely battle to salvage some sanity and honor out of what is swirling around her makes for savagely fascinating reading.
This is a triumph for Cornwell — and a feast for her readers.