Blow Fly (Kay Scarpetta Series #12)

Blow Fly (Kay Scarpetta Series #12)

2.9 302
by Patricia Cornwell
     
 

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Readers are in for the shock of Kay Scarpetta's life.See more details below

Overview

Readers are in for the shock of Kay Scarpetta's life.

Editorial Reviews

Connecticut Post
Patricia Cornwell is on target - and spectacularly so - with her latest Kay Scarpetta thriller...
October 26, 2003
Publishers Weekly
"Please don't go there. The past is the past," sighs New York Assistant District Attorney Jaime Berger, who herself was introduced in Cornwell's last Kay Scarpetta novel, The Last Precinct (2000). Alas, many of Cornwell's fans are bound to agree. One fascinating nonfiction bestseller (Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed) later, Cornwell now returns to Scarpetta, formerly Virginia's chief medical examiner. From the start, however, the formidable author is up against the equally formidable task of getting her charismatic main character off ice and back in action. We encounter Scarpetta languishing in a crumbling little rental house in Florida. She has taken refuge there and become a private forensic consultant after she was driven from her job for her alleged involvement in the murder of a deputy police chief. The violent death of her lover, Benton Wesley, the brilliant FBI psychological profiler, has left her filled with an unappeasable grief. When the coroner in Baton Rouge asks her advice on a cold case concerning an affluent woman found dead of a drug overdose in a seedy hotel, it seems little more than a diversion. Yet it becomes clear that the overdose may be related to a fresh string of serial killings. Also disturbing Scarpetta's somber peace is a troubling letter from someone out to kill her, the sick and obsessed death-row inmate Jean-Baptiste. When Scarpetta is at last allowed to get back to business, she is a feisty, independent powerhouse whose capacity to concentrate and observe rivals Sherlock Holmes's. But too much of this book is bound up in retrospective musings about events in previous books. The great Scarpetta, her fiery crime-busting niece, Lucy, and a colorful supporting cast deserve better. 1,000,000 first printing; Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild main selections; foreign sales to Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Spain and the U.K.. (Oct. 13) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Dr. Kay Scarpetta (The Last Precinct) is back-this time as a private forensic consultant. First, she is called to Baton Rouge to help investigate a socialite's mysterious death and perhaps provide insight about a serial killer on the loose there. Then she receives a letter from Jean-Baptiste Chandonne, the infamous Loup Garou (Black Notice), who nearly killed her several years before. With his execution approaching, Chandonne claims that he has information that could destroy his family's international cartel, but he will only give it to Scarpetta. As she becomes more involved in her investigations in Louisiana, Scarpetta begins to suspect that the crimes are somehow tied to Chandonne and that she has become a pawn in his powerful family's grasp. What she finally discovers stuns her to the core. This is, in some ways, the most shocking Scarpetta installment, and readers new to the series might find it confusing. Fans will definitely want it, though. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/03; a Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Mystery Guild main selection.]-Leslie Madden, Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Fresh from tussling with a nonpareil real-life serial killer (Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed, not reviewed), Cornwell brings back forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta for her first outing in three years. The interval's been so tough on Scarpetta that now she requires a third-person narrator and chapters short as a gasp. She's left her job as Virginia's Chief Medical Examiner, and she's been mourning her FBI lover Benton Wesley, not realizing her niece Lucy Farinelli helped him fake his death so that he could go underground. Jean-Baptiste Chandonne, the Wolfman Scarpetta blinded and brought to book in The Last Precinct (2000), may be on Death Row in Texas, but he's still as dangerous as ever, promising Scarpetta help in tracking down the killer of Charlotte Dard in Baton Rouge eight years ago if she'll come visit him and promise to give him the fatal needle. Back in Louisiana, Jay Talley, Chandonne's handsome if equally depraved twin, is kidnapping, torturing, and murdering a series of middle-aged Wal-Mart shoppers in literally unspeakable ways. One problem this time, in fact, is that Cornwell never provides any of the unblinking set pieces that have made her so widely imitated. A more serious problem is that the perils feel recycled, shapeless, and so soaked in evil that they're headed nowhere in particular for Sisyphus Scarpetta. First printing of 1,000,000; $850,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild/Doubleday Book Club/Mystery Guild main selection; author tour. Agent: Esther Newberg/ICM
From the Publisher
"[A] grisly fast-paced thriller...utterly chilling."—Entertainment Weekly

"A story so compelling that even long-time readers will be stunned by its twists and turns."—Chicago Tribune

"Gruesome and suspenseful."—New York Daily News

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101155929
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/07/2004
Series:
Kay Scarpetta Series , #12
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
14,690
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

1

DR. KAY SCARPETTA moves the tiny glass vial close to candlelight, illuminating a maggot drifting in a poisonous bath of ethanol.

At a glance, she knows the exact stage of metamorphosis before the creamy carcass, no larger than a grain of rice, was preserved in a specimen vessel fitted with a black screw cap. Had the larva lived, it would have matured into a bluebottle Calliphora vicina, a blow fly. It might have laid its eggs in a dead human body's mouth or eyes, or in a living person's malodorous wounds.

"Thank you very much," Scarpetta says, looking around the table at the fourteen cops and crime-scene technicians of the National Forensic Academy's class of 2003. Her eyes linger on Nic Robillard's innocent face. "I don't know who collected this from a location best not to contemplate at the dinner table, and preserved it with me in mind . . . but . . ."

Blank looks and shrugs.

"I have to say that this is the first time I've been given a maggot as a gift."

No one claims responsibility, but if there is a fact Scarpetta has never doubted, it is a cop's ability to bluff and, when necessary, outright lie. Having noticed a tug at the corner of Nic Robillard's mouth before anyone else realized that a maggot had joined them at the dinner table, Scarpetta has a suspect in mind.

The light of the flame moves over the vial in Scarpetta's fingertips, her nails neatly filed short and square, her hand steady and elegant but strong from years of manipulating the unwilling dead and cutting through their stubborn tissue and bone.

Unfortunately for Nic, her classmates aren't laughing, and humiliation finds her like a frigid draft. After ten weeks with cops she should now count as comrades and friends, she is still Nic the Hick from Zachary, Louisiana, a town of twelve thousand, where, until recently, murder was an almost unheard-of atrocity. It was not unusual for Zachary to go for years without one.

Most of Nic's classmates are so jaded by working homicides that they have come up with their own categories for them: real murders, misdemeanor murders, even urban renewal. Nic doesn't have her own pet categories. Murder is murder. So far in her eight-year career, she has worked only two, both of them domestic shootings. It was awful the first day of class when an instructor went from one cop to another, asking how many homicides each of their departments averaged a year. None, Nic said. Then he asked the size of each cop's department. Thirty-five, Nic said. Or smaller than my eighth-grade class, as one of her new classmates put it. From the beginning of what was supposed to be the greatest opportunity of her life, Nic quit trying to fit in, accepting that in the police way of defining the universe, she was a them, not an us.

Her rather whimsical maggot mischief, she realizes with regret, was a breach of something (she's not sure what), but without a doubt she should never have decided to give a gift, serious or otherwise, to the legendary forensic pathologist Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Nic's face heats up, and a cold sweat dampens her armpits as she watches for her hero's reaction, unable to read it, probably because Nic is stunned stupid by insecurity and embarrassment.

"So I'll call her Maggie, although we really can't determine gender yet," Scarpetta decides, her wire-rim glasses reflecting shifting candlelight. "But a good enough name for a maggot, I think." A ceiling fan snaps and whips the candle flame inside its glass globe as she holds up the vial. "Who's going to tell me which instar Maggie is? What life stage was she in before someone"-she scans the faces at the table, pausing on Nic's again-"dropped her in this little bottle of ethanol? And by the way, I suspect Maggie aspirated and drowned. Maggots need air the same way we do."

"What asshole drowned a maggot?" one of the cops snipes.

"Yeah. Imagine inhaling alcohol . . ."

"What'cha talking about, Joey? You been inhaling it all night."

A dark, ominous humor begins to rumble like a distant storm, and Nic doesn't know how to duck out of it. She leans back in her chair, crossing her arms at her chest, doing her best to look indifferent as her mind unexpectedly plays one of her father's worn-out storm warnings: Now, Nic, honey, when there's lightning, don't stand alone or think you'll be protected by hiding in the trees. Find the nearest ditch and lie as low in it as you can. At the moment, she has no place to hide but in her own silence.

"Hey Doc, we already took our last test."

"Who brought homework to our party?"

"Yeah, we're off duty."

"Off duty, I see," Scarpetta muses. "So if you're off duty when the dead body of a missing person has just been found, you're not going to respond. Is that what you're saying?"

"I'd have to wait until my bourbon wears off," says a cop whose shaved head is so shiny it looks waxed.

"That's a thought," she says.

Now the cops are laughing-everyone but Nic.

"It can happen." Scarpetta sets the vial next to her wineglass. "At any given moment, we can get a call. It may prove to be the worst call of our careers, and here we are, slightly buzzed from a few drinks on our time off, or maybe sick, or in the middle of a fight with a lover, a friend, one of the kids."

She pushes away her half-eaten yellowfin tuna and folds her hands on top of the checkered tablecloth.

"But cases can't wait," she adds.

"Seriously. Isn't it true that some can?" asks a Chicago detective his classmates call Popeye because of the anchor tattooed on his left forearm. "Like bones in a well or buried in a basement. Or a body under a slab of concrete. I mean, they ain't going anywhere."

"The dead are impatient," Scarpetta says.

--from Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell, copyright © 2003 by Patricia Cornwell, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“[A] grisly fast-paced thriller…utterly chilling.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Patricia Cornwell is on target—and spectacularly so…a story so compelling that even long-time readers will be stunned by its twists and turns.”—Chicago Tribune

“Like a thriller with overtones of espionage, Blow Fly is a novel of complicated relationships, near-Machiavellian maneuvers and, as usual, picture-perfect scenes in which Scarpetta’s forensic expertise comes into play…Enjoy the show—it’s a good one.”—The Denver Post
 
“Engaging and horrifying…a book that fans will want to read for the sheer voyeuristic quality of watching the characters they know so well go beyond their limits.”—Houston Chronicle

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