Blow Fly (Kay Scarpetta Series #12)

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Readers are in for the shock of Kay Scarpetta's life.
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Blow Fly (Kay Scarpetta Series #12)

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Overview

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

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Returning to her bestselling Kay Scarpetta series after a foray into nonfiction (Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper -- Case Closed), Patricia Cornwell takes her forensic pathologist heroine into another unsettling tale that blends fast-paced action with skillful character development.

After sending Jean-Baptiste Chandonne up the river in The Last Precinct, Scarpetta now faces the vengeance of his insane brother, who is rampaging through the Louisiana bayous, hideously torturing and murdering a number of Scarpetta look-alikes. As if this weren't enough, she's eventually forced to turn to the demonic Jean-Baptiste in an effort to catch yet another killer; but his help comes at a horrific price.

Blow Fly is an engaging, well-crafted story that lures you with a series of chilling incidents. Never one to shrink from disturbing material, Cornwell does a particularly fine job of fleshing out her villains -- a cruel, depraved, and thoroughly intriguing cast of characters who keep the action moving at a steady pace. This powerful entry in the Scarpetta canon mesmerizes with its unflinching glimpse into the darkest depths of the human heart. Tom Piccirilli

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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594130595
  • Publisher: Large Print Distribution
  • Publication date: 1/2/2005
  • Series: Kay Scarpetta Series , #12
  • Edition description: Unabridged Edition Large Print
  • Pages: 656
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia  Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell is one of the world’s major internationally bestselling authors, translated into more than thirty-five languages in more than 120 countries. She is a founder of the Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine; a founding member of the National Forensic Academy; a member of the Advisory Board for the Forensic Sciences Training Program at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, New York City; and a member of the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital’s National Council, where she is an advocate for psychiatric research. In 2008, Cornwell won the Galaxy British Book Awards’s Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year—the first American to win this prestigious award. In 2011, she was awarded the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of Culture in Paris. Her most recent bestsellers include Red Mist, Port Mortuary, The Scarpetta Factor, The Front, and Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper. Her earlier works include Postmortem—the only novel to win five major crime awards in a single year—and Cruel & Unusual, which won Britain’s Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel of 1993. Dr. Kay Scarpetta herself won the 1999 Sherlock Award for the best detective created by an American author.

Biography

Patricia Cornwell writes crime fiction from an unusually informed point of view. While many writers are, as she says, conjuring up "fantasy" assumptions regarding what really goes into tracking criminals and examining crime scenes, Cornwell really does walk the walk, which is why her novels ring so true.

Before becoming one of the most widely recognized, respected, and read writers in contemporary crime fiction, she worked as a police reporter for The Charlotte Observer and as a computer analyst in the chief medical examiner's office in Virginia. During this period of her life, Cornwell observed literally hundreds of autopsies. While the vast majority of people would surely regard such work unsavory beyond belief, Cornwell was acquiring valuable information that would not only help her write the groundbreaking 2002 study Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper -- Case Closed but would also enrich her fiction with uncommon authenticity.

"Most of these crime scene shows... are what I call ‘Harry Potter' policing," she said in a candid, heated interview. "They're absolutely fantasy. And the problem is the general public watches these, 60 million people a week or whatever, and they think what they're seeing is true." If Cornwell comes off as a bit vehement in her criticism of television shows meant to simply entertain, that's just because she takes her work so seriously.

Not that Cornwell's novels are ever anything short of entertaining, even if their grisly details may require extra-strong stomachs of her readers. She has created a tremendously well-defined and complex character in her favorite fictional crime solver Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Cornwell introduced medical examiner Scarpetta in her first novel, Postmortem in 1990. Today, Scarpetta is still cracking cases and cracking open cadavers. (She has even inspired a cook book called Food to Die For: Secrets from Kay Scarpetta's Kitchen.) In addition, Cornwell writes more lighthearted cop capers in her Andy Brazil & Judy Hammer series.

Good To Know

Cornwell knows what its like to shatter records. Her debut, Postmortem, was the only novel by a first-time author to ever win five major mystery awards in a single year.

Cornwell may be a former crime solver, but she shudders to think that her books could actually contribute to crime. In fact, she says she has received "thank you" notes from prisoners who claim they have gleaned information from her books that might help them cover their tracks while committing future crimes.

If parody is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then Cornwell has a fan in Chris Elliott. The professional wisenheimer published a hilarious takeoff on her true crime book Portrait of a Killer called The Shroud of the Thwacker.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Patricia Daniels Cornwell (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Boston, MA and New York, NY
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 9, 1956
    2. Place of Birth:
      Miami, Florida
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Davidson College, 1979; King College
    2. Website:

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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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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( 299 )
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(84)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 300 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2008

    Just dark and wounded

    Patricia Cornwell has been one of my favorite authors for quite some time, and I've been an avid fan of her Kay Scarpetta series (though not the Andy Brazil series). I suppose that may be why I was so disappointed with Blowfly, the eleventh novel in the Scarpetta series. Cornwell created a formidable and impressive heroine in Kay Scarpetta a lawyer, as well as a medical doctor, serving as the Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Her own experience working as a medical examiner helped her weave a vivid image of that world, and the politics surrounding it. But somewhere, Cornwell has jumped the rails and taken her writing from dark and mysterious into just dark and wounded. Scarpetta, once the indomitable spirit who lets the dead speak and finds the justice, albeit a dark and foreboding chase, now spends much of her time sitting and whimpering to herself about all the bad things that she¿s suffered lately. What was once a model of self determination, now reads like a case of clinical depression and self pity. Also, where the first eight or nine books are able to stand alone, even if the reader hasn¿t read the preceding ones, the last few have read more like chapters than actual books. Blowfly, even more than the others, requires the reader to have pretty much memorized what happened in the two preceding (Black Notice and The Last Precinct) in order to understand the story at all. Blowfly's story line is convoluted and very difficult to follow, even for a reader who is very familiar with the entire series. Characters whose lives and loves are well known to the reader are muddied to the point that they become unfamiliar, and then seem to have changed entirely. One character, long dead, is even resurrected his supposed murder now linked to the present chaos, although none of it had even occurred yet when he 'passed'. There was a profound and unexplained change in Cornwell's writing style as well, that began in The Last Precinct, the book immediately preceding, and continuing with Blowfly. Where the other books have been written in first person, past tense (I walked into the room and saw the victim), the last two have been third person, present tense (Scarpetta walks into the room and sees the victim). The change is dramatic in that it not only distracts the reader it tends to make it sound like a screenplay instead of a novel. It is commonly held that the ending is the hardest part of a novel to write, and Blowfly seems to hold this up. It ends abruptly in the last five pages, leading the reader to wonder if there may be some pages missing. There is no build and release, only a tension that never ends. If the pattern follows, I have no doubt that the next book in the series will pick up as if it is the missing chapters to the unfinished story. Linda Dark Horse

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2007

    Worst Book Ever

    This was the worst book I ever read. I don't know if this was supposed to be a fairy tale or a Stephen King-type thriller. It certainly wasn't a murder mystery. The crazy Chandonne character has been stretched way past the point of believability. This requires much more than the suspension of disbelief.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2005

    WHAT HAPPENED?

    I was so excited when I found out that Patricia Cornwell was coming out with a new Kay Scarpetta novel. I counted the days for it's release and ran to the bookstore to get a copy. When I started into it I was shocked to see that she had written it in a third-person style and had done away with Kay's vision of the story. Then after reading for a while I found that Kay wasn't even the main character, really. It centered more around Lucy, who is as confusing as ever. Even the other characters had more scenes than Kay did. The ending was so horrible that it almost seemed to be from a different story. It just tumbled along forever and then just stopped. By far the worst Kay Scarpetta novel ever and I have been reading them since 'Postmortem'. If you still want to read it, borrow don't buy.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2007

    A let down, but enough with the Chardonnes

    I just finished this book and my oh my is it a disappointment! Please tell me this will be the last of the Cardonne family. I am really bummed about how things got revealed with Benton. I really hope TRACE is better.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Hooked on Cornwell

    In the last year I have picked up on Patricia Cornwell novels and have loved every one! "Blow Fly" was fast-paced, exciting and a great read to get you away from it all! I highly recommend all of Cornwell's books in the Kay Scarpetta series!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2005

    Best Book Yet!!!!

    It's so funny reading the other reviews. This was definitely her best book so far! I am so bored with Kellerman, Patterson, and Sanford...Lee Child is the best writer so far.....

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2014

    Windheart

    Name above age 19 moons appearence a sleek strong grey tom with green eyes personality nice outgoing fun polite unless you get on his bad side position warrior gender tom single crush none history a warrior that has traveled from ivyclan to sunclan to fallclan then to here anything else just ask

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2013

    Not thrilled. How can people that are supposed to love KS live w

    Not thrilled. How can people that are supposed to love KS live with this one?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2012

    Love it! A character I can relate to with an exciting story line.

    Read all of the earlier books in the Kay series years ago and just got back into them now. I get a feeling part of this story comes from Paticia C's own inner demons as her character evolves. Whatever the case it keeps the story line interesting.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Scarpetta story continues

    Patricia Cornwell's character Kay Scarpetta continues to reign supreme in another book in the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2014

    BIOS

    Bios here

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2014

    Leopardstrike

    Name: Leopardstrike/Gender: &female/Position: Medicine cat/Apprentice: Opalpaw/Age: 15 moons/History: you don't want to know. Very brutal/Personality: smart, kind, accepting, loyal, does not like the idea of war, but she is actually a very skilled warrior in battle. She can outrun pretty much every cat, so her body is slender and built for running and endurance/Description: medium sized golden she-cat that is dotted with black spots. She has emerald green eyes ringed with coppee. On her forehead, she has three scars running through her ears. She has three copper paws, and one black/Father: doesn't know/Mother: see father/Siblings:not that she knows of/Crush: geez, she is a medicine cat/Mate:can't have one/Kits: see mate/Other: ask me'•_•' Leopardstrike

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    EmberClaws bio

    Name: EmberClaw Age: adult/teenage Rank: warrior Description: brownish red pelt, brown eyes, one red paw. Backround: escaped from a war- torn clan. Ordered to launch an attack and ended up joining stormclan. *Secret* Her orriginalvname was sparkclaw and was soon changed to EmberClaw after surviving a large attack and was the only one left.(Ember- remains of a fire. The one that didnt die out.)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    Thunderclaw bio

    Age: 20 moons persallnality: brave kind daring pachent quit sneaky helpfull curyous obiediedent jenerous playfull shy gender: tom cat with black fur and green eyes with gray paws.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2013

    Riderwing's bio

    Name: Riderwing-Age: 18 moons-Rank:Warrior-Gender: She-Personality: Energetic, short tempered, impatient, caring, VERY HIGHLY trustworthy, does my best to keep true to my word, truthful -Appearance: Varies as i am a shape shifter. Does have pure white wings tipped with black and gold. Usually. -Background:Figure it out. -Other:Ask.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2013

    Stormclan rest of results are our territory

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  • Posted August 21, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    I was thrilled to read the change in style of this book. The first several books of the series there was a recognizable theme and now I'm seeing the changes in Kay's life as well as the other characters' lives and I love it! How apropos for Kay to find her life changed so drastically that she had to begin again, I know I've experienced the same thing in my mid-fourties. I'm looking forward to seeing where her new journey takes her and what kind of a place she'll find in this world to use her skills. The ending, although a bit abrupt, gives fans an appetite to read on and find this hideous creature who will surely show up in a most unexpected place. I'm just on chapter 2 of Trace but the feeling that I felt when I began to read the series is back and I can't wait to see what's going to happen.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2012

    Great

    Good story. Feel like I know all the characters... Also like the new setting

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    Simply a riveting brilliant read as most of her other books. I was not able to put it down till the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2007

    A good read....but

    not the usual Scarpetta. I did enjoy the book and I agree with a previous review from another reader - it does connect everything. I'll always be a huge fan of Patricia Cornwell.

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