Trace (Kay Scarpetta Series #13)

( 219 )

Overview

WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION BY THE AUTHOR

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, now freelancing from south Florida, returns to the city that turned its back on her five years ago. Richmond, Virginia’s recently appointed chief medical examiner claims that he needs Scarpetta’s help to solve a perplexing crime. When she arrives, however, Scarpetta finds that nothing is as she expected: her former lab is in the final stages of demolition; the inept chief isn’t the one who requested her after all; her old ...

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Trace (Kay Scarpetta Series #13)

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Overview

WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION BY THE AUTHOR

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, now freelancing from south Florida, returns to the city that turned its back on her five years ago. Richmond, Virginia’s recently appointed chief medical examiner claims that he needs Scarpetta’s help to solve a perplexing crime. When she arrives, however, Scarpetta finds that nothing is as she expected: her former lab is in the final stages of demolition; the inept chief isn’t the one who requested her after all; her old assistant chief has developed personal problems that he won’t reveal; and a glamorous FBI agent, whom Scarpetta dislikes instantly, meddles with the case.

Deprived of assistance from colleagues Benton and Lucy, who are embroiled in what first appears to be an unrelated attempted rape by a stalker, Scarpetta is faced with investigating the death of a fourteen-year-old girl, working with the smallest pieces of evidence—traces that only the most thorough hunters can identify. She must follow the twisting leads and track the strange details in order to make the dead speak—and to reveal the sad truth that may be more than even she can bear…

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Kay Scarpetta's return to her old Richmond stomping grounds is even more depressing than she expected. The medical examiner's department is in disarray; Kay's former lab is in the final stages of demolition; incompetence is everywhere, and personal conflicts abound. Fortunately, a murder case arises that strains even Dr. Scarpetta's forensics skills. A taut crime scene investigation thriller.
Marilyn Stasio
… the author maintains firm control over the various unruly elements of her story, allowing Scarpetta's faithful sidekicks to make reasonable contributions to the investigation but leaving it to her brainy heroine to analyze the scientific evidence and pull the whole thing together. Although Cornwell's over-the-top series will probably never return to its realistic beginnings, it's a relief to find Scarpetta back in the lab where she belongs, up to her elbows in guts and gore.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Cornwell's latest after the disappointing Blow Fly has indomitable medical examiner Kay Scarpetta returning to her office in Richmond five years after being fired. This homecoming will cheer fans: not only does the move put Scarpetta on her own turf, it reinvigorates Cornwell's storytelling, restoring some of the spunk lately lacking in her lead character. Dr. Joel Marcus, Scarpetta's replacement as Virginia's chief medical examiner, has summoned her back to help him puzzle through the mysterious death of a 14-year-old girl. Marcus is generally loathed: he's petty, inept, has a secret garbage-truck phobia and harbors an intense hatred for Scarpetta. Meanwhile, Scarpetta's niece Lucy, owner of a fabulously successful private-eye firm, has her own troubles trying to sort out who attempted to kill her friend Henri (short for Henrietta), who's now under psychiatric treatment by Scarpetta's lover in Aspen, Benton Wesley. Lurking in the background is Edgar Allan Pogue, a nutcase who has a thing for dead bodies and a grudge against Scarpetta. It's her job, as always, to connect all the puzzling forensic dots and identify the killer in time to save herself and her loved ones. She does this, mostly, but leaves the reader to puzzle out a few salient points on his or her own. Cumbersome backstory slows the action, but in general the old Scarpetta comes through, at least in the main, and this will be enough to reassure her many fans and carry them over until her next appearance. Agent, Esther Newberg. (Sept.) Forecast: A firmer editorial hand might have snipped those dangling plot threads the price, perhaps, of such success is getting enough rope to hang oneself. But thankfully Cornwell escapes that fate, and as the bestselling female crime writer in the world she can expect her regular huge numbers. BOMC, Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selection. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Cornwell's 13th Kay Scarpetta adventure finds the forensic investigator and her trusted friend, Pete Marino, back in Richmond, VA, to solve the mystery surrounding a 14-year-old girl's death. The cause of death makes no sense, and the reasons for Scarpetta's summons to Richmond are even less clear. When a victim of a demolition accident turns up with trace evidence similar to what was found on the girl's body, Scarpetta must confront a part of her past that she had thought was behind her. Meanwhile, Lucy, a houseguest of Scarpetta's niece, is the victim of a dangerous stalker. This latest installment is somewhat disappointing, lacking the intensity of Cornwell's earlier works, and dividing the focus between Scarpetta and Lucy can be confusing. Still, true fans will want to read it. Recommended for public libraries and popular reading collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/04.] Leslie Madden, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Five years after getting eased out in a nasty political brawl, Dr. Kay Scarpetta (Blow Fly, 2003, etc.) is back in Richmond to battle still another monstrous killer. Virginia's newly appointed Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Joel Marcus, hasn't a clue why 14-year-old Gilly Paulsson died. Gilly's flu had been responding to antibiotics, and the CME's office can find no apparent cause of death. So Marcus calls Scarpetta back from Florida, where she works with her niece Lucy Farinelli's security firm-ostensibly to consult with her, but actually to criticize and humble her. Tempers flare from the moment Scarpetta shows up with mouthy ex-Richmond cop Pete Marino in tow. But the battle really heats up with the news that the body of Theodore Whitby, a construction worker accidentally killed in the demolition of the old CME building, is marked by the same trace evidence as Gilly Paulsson, who died in bed miles away. Scarpetta must have contaminated one of the bodies, Dr. Marcus insists, because what else could the two cases have in common? Plenty, as readers will know if they've been following the dark doings of sickly Edgar Allan Pogue that Cornwell's planted along with half a dozen other grisly subplots. Cornwell's full-employment approach to evil hits all her high notes: grueling forensics, supernal villainy, Scarpetta's righteous duels with bullying authority figures. If the result is more synthetic than inspired, fans won't be disappointed. Book-of-the-Month Club/Literary Guild/Mystery Guild/Doubleday Book Club main selection. Agent: Esther Newberg/ICM
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425250310
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/3/2012
  • Series: Kay Scarpetta Series , #13
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 135,173
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia  Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell is one of the world’s major internationally bestselling authors, translated into over thirty-five languages in more than 120 countries. She is a founder of the Virginia Institute of Forensic Sciences 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 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’ Book 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 French Ministry of Culture. Her most recent bestsellers include Port Mortuary, The Scarpetta Factor, The Front, and Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper—Case Closed. Her earlier works include Postmortem—the only novel to win five major crime awards in a single year—and Cruel and 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.

YELLOW BULLDOZERS hack earth and stone in an old city block that has seen more death than most modern wars, and Kay Scarpetta slows her rental SUV almost to a stop. Shaken by the destruction ahead, she stares at the mustard-colored machines savaging her past.

"Someone should have told me," she says.

Her intention this gray December morning was innocent enough. All she wanted was to indulge in a little nostalgia and drive past her old building, not having a clue that it was being torn down. Someone could have told her. The polite and kind thing would have been to mention it, at least say, Oh, by the way, that building where you used to work when you were young and full of hopes and dreams and believed in love, well, that old building you still miss and feel deeply about is being torn down.

A bulldozer lurches, its blade raised for the attack, and the noisy mechanical violence seems a warning, a dangerous alert. I should have listened, she thinks as she looks at the cracked and gouged concrete. The front of her old building is missing half of its face. When she was asked to come back to Richmond she should have paid attention to her feelings.

"I've got a case I'm hoping you might help me with," explained Dr. Joel Marcus, the current chief medical examiner of Virginia, the man who took her place. It was just yesterday afternoon when he called her on the phone and she ignored her feelings.

"Of course, Dr. Marcus," she said to him over the phone as she moved around in the kitchen of her South Florida home. "What can I do for you?"

"A fourteen-year-old girl was found dead in bed. This was two weeks ago, about noon. She'd been sick with the flu."

Scarpetta should have asked Dr. Marcus why he was calling her. Why her? But she wasn't paying attention to her feelings. "She was home from school?" she said.

"Yes."

"Alone?" She stirred a concoction of bourbon, honey, and olive oil, the phone tucked under her chin.

"Yes."

"Who found her and what's the cause of death?" She poured the marinade over a lean sirloin steak inside a plastic freezer bag.

"Her mother found her. There's no obvious cause of death," he said. "Nothing suspicious except that her findings, or lack of them, indicate she shouldn't be dead."

Scarpetta tucked the plastic bag of meat and marinade inside the refrigerator and opened the drawer of potatoes, then shut it, changing her mind. She'd make whole-grain bread instead of potatoes. She couldn't stand still, much less sit, and she was unnerved and trying very hard not to sound unnerved. Why was he calling her? She should have asked him.

"Who lived in the house with her?" Scarpetta asked.

"I'd rather go over the details with you in person," Dr. Marcus replied. "This is a very sensitive situation."

At first Scarpetta almost said that she was leaving for a two-week trip to Aspen, but those words never came out and they are no longer true. She isn't going to Aspen. She'd been planning on going, for months she had, but she wasn't going and she isn't going. She couldn't bring herself to lie about it, and instead used the professional excuse that she couldn't come to Richmond because she is in the midst of reviewing a difficult case, a very difficult death by hanging that the family refuses to accept as a suicide.

"What's the problem with the hanging?" asked Dr. Marcus, and the more he talked, the less she heard him. "Racial?"

"He climbed a tree, put a rope around his neck, and handcuffed himself behind his back so he couldn't change his mind," she replied, opening a cabinet door in her bright, cheerful kitchen. "When he stepped off the branch and dropped, his C-2 fractured and the rope pushed up his scalp in back, distorting his face, so it looked like he was frowning, as if he were in pain. Try explaining that and the handcuffs to his family in Mississippi, deep down there in Mississippi, where camouflage is normal and gay men are not."

"I've never been to Mississippi," Dr. Marcus said blandly, and maybe what he really meant was he didn't care about the hanging or any tragedy that had no direct impact on his life, but that wasn't what she heard, because she wasn't listening.

"I'd like to help you," she told him as she opened a new bottle of unfiltered olive oil, even though it wasn't necessary to open it right that minute. "But it's probably not a good idea for me to get involved in any case of yours."

She was angry but denied it as she moved about her large, well-equipped kitchen of stainless-steel appliances and polished granite countertops and big bright views of the Intracoastal Waterway. She was angry about Aspen but denied it. She was just angry, and she didn't want to bluntly remind Dr. Marcus that she was fired from the same job he now enjoys, which is why she left Virginia with no plans for ever coming back. But a long silence from him forced her to go on and say that she didn't leave Richmond under amicable conditions and certainly he must know it.

"Kay, that was a long time ago," he replied, and she was professional and respectful enough to call him Dr. Marcus, and here he was calling her Kay. She was startled by how offended she was by his calling her Kay, but she told herself he was friendly and personal while she was touchy and overly sensitive, and maybe she was jealous of him and wished him failure, accusing herself of the worst pettiness of all. It was understandable that he would call her Kay instead of Dr. Scarpetta, she told herself, refusing to pay attention to her feelings.

"We have a different governor," he went on. "It's likely she doesn't even know who you are."

Now he was implying that Scarpetta is so unimportant and unsuccessful that the governor has never heard of her. Dr. Marcus was insulting her. Nonsense, she countered herself.

"Our new governor is rather much consumed with the Commonwealth's enormous budget deficit and all the potential terrorist targets we've got here in Virginia . . ."

Scarpetta scolded herself for her negative reaction to the man who succeeded her. All he wanted was help with a difficult case, and why shouldn't he track her down? It's not unusual for CEOs fired from major corporations to be called upon later for advice and consultation. And she's not going to Aspen, she reminded herself.

". . . nuclear power plants, numerous military bases, the FBI Academy, a not-so-secret CIA training camp, the Federal Reserve. You won't have any problem with the governor, Kay. She's too ambitious, actually, too focused on her Washington aspirations, the truth be told, to care about what's going on in my office." Dr. Marcus went on in his smooth southern accent, trying to disabuse Scarpetta of the idea that her riding back into town after being ridden out of it five years earlier would cause controversy or even be noticed. She wasn't really convinced, but she was thinking about Aspen. She was thinking about Benton, about his being in Aspen without her. She has time on her hands, she was thinking, so she could take on another case because she suddenly has more time.

Scarpetta drives slowly around the block where she was headquartered in an early stage of her life that now seems as finished as something can be. Puffs of dust drift up as machines assault the carcass of her old building like giant yellow insects. Metal blades and buckets clank and thud against concrete and dirt. Trucks and earth-moving machines roll and jerk. Tires crush and steel belts rip.

"Well," Scarpetta says, "I'm glad I'm seeing this. But someone should have told me."

Pete Marino, her passenger, silently stares at the razing of the squat, dingy building at the outer limits of the banking district.

"I'm glad you're seeing it, too, Captain," she adds, although he isn't a captain anymore, but when she calls him Captain, which isn't often, she is being gentle with him.

"Just what the doctor ordered," he mutters in a sarcastic tone that is his most common tone, like middle C on a piano. "And you're right. Someone should have told you, that someone being the prickless wonder who took your place. He begs you to fly here when you haven't set foot in Richmond for five years and can't bother to tell you the old joint's being torn down."

"I'm sure it didn't cross his mind," she says.

"The little prick," Marino replies. "I hate him already."

This morning Marino is a deliberate, menacing mixture of messages in black cargo pants, black police boots, a black vinyl jacket, and an LAPD baseball cap. Obvious to Scarpetta is his determination to look like a tough big-city outsider because he still resents the people in this stubborn small city who mistreated him or dissed him or bossed him around when he was a detective here. Rarely does it occur to him that when he was written up, suspended, transferred, or demoted, usually he deserved it, that when people are rude to him, usually he provokes them.

Slouched in the seat with sunglasses on, Marino looks a bit silly to Scarpetta, who knows, for example, that he hates all things celebrity, that he especially hates the entertainment industry and the people, including cops, who are desperate to be part of it. The cap was a wise-guy gift from her niece, Lucy, who recently opened an office in Los Angeles, or Lost Angeles, as Marino calls it. So here is Marino, returning to his own lost city, Richmond, and he has choreographed his guest appearance by looking exactly like what he's not.

"Huh," he muses in a lower pitch of voice. "Well, so much for Aspen. I guess Benton's pretty pissed."

"Actually, he's working a case," she says. "So a few days' delay is probably a good thing."

"A few days my ass. Nothing ever takes a few days. Bet you never get to Aspen. What case is he working?"

"He didn't say and I didn't ask," she replies, and that's all she intends to say because she doesn't want to talk about Benton.

Marino looks out the window and is silent for a moment, and she can almost hear him thinking about her relationship with Benton Wesley, and she knows Marino wonders about them, probably constantly and in ways that are unseemly. Somehow he knows that she has been distant from Benton, physically distant, since they got back together, and it angers and humiliates her that Marino would detect such a thing. If anyone would figure it out, he would.

"Well, that's a damn shame about Aspen," Marino says. "If it was me, it would really piss me off."

"Take a good look," she says, referring to the building being knocked down right before their eyes. "Look now while we're here," she says, because she does not want to talk about Aspen or Benton or why she isn't there with him or what it might be like or what it might not be like. When Benton was gone all those years, a part of her left. When he came back, not all of her did, and she doesn't know why.

"Well, I guess it's about time they tore the place down," Marino says, looking out his window. "I guess because of Amtrak. Seems I heard something about it, about needing another parking deck down here because of them opening Main Street Station. I forget who told me. It was a while ago."

"It would have been nice if you had told me," she says.

"It was a while ago. I don't even remember who I heard it from."

"Information like that is a good thing for me to know."

He looks at her. "I don't blame you for being in a mood. I warned you about coming here. Now look what we find right off. We haven't even been here an hour, and look at this. Our old joint's being smashed up with a wrecking ball. It's a bad sign, you ask me. You're going maybe two miles an hour. Maybe you ought to speed up."

"I'm not in a mood," she replies. "But I like to be told things." She drives slowly, staring at her old building.

"I'm telling you, it's a bad sign," he says, staring at her, then out his window.

Scarpetta doesn't speed up as she watches the destruction, and the truth sinks in slowly, as slowly as her progress around the block. The former Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Division of Forensic Science Laboratories is well on its way to becoming a parking deck for the restored Main Street railway station, which never saw a train during the decade she and Marino worked and lived here. The hulking Gothic station is built of stone the hue of old blood and was dormant for long years until, with but a few agonal twitches, it was transformed into shops, which soon failed, and then state offices, which soon closed. Its tall clock tower was a constant on the horizon, watching over sweeping bends of I-95 and train overpasses, a ghostly white face with filigree hands frozen in time.

Richmond has moved on without her. Main Street Station has been resurrected and is a hub for Amtrak. The clock works. The time is sixteen minutes past eight. The clock never worked all those years it followed Scarpetta in her mirrors as she drove back and forth to take care of the dead. Life in Virginia has moved on and no one bothered to tell her.

"I don't know what I expected," she says, glancing out her side window. "Maybe they would gut it, use it for storage, archives, state surplus. Not tear it down."

"Truth is, they ought to tear it down," Marino decides.

"I don't know why, but I never thought they would."

"It ain't exactly one of the architectural wonders of the world," he says, suddenly sounding hostile toward the old building. "A 1970s piece of concrete shit. Think of all the murdered people who been through that joint. People with AIDS, street people with gangrene. Raped, strangled, and stabbed women and kids. Wackos who jumped off buildings and in front of trains. There ain't a single kind of case that joint ain't seen. Not to mention all those pink rubbery bodies in the floor vats of the Anatomical Division. Now that creeped me out worse than anything. 'Member how they'd lift 'em out of those vats with chains and hooks in their ears? All naked and pink as the Three Little Pigs, their legs hitched up." He lifts his knees to demonstrate, black-cargo-pants-covered knees rising toward the visor.

"Not so long ago, you couldn't lift your legs like that," she says. "You could hardly even bend your legs not even three months ago."

"Huh."

"I'm serious. I've been meaning to say something about how fit you're getting."\

"Even a dog can lift its leg, Doc," he jokes, his mood obviously improved by the compliment, and she feels bad that she hasn't complimented him before now. "Assuming the dog in question's male."

"I'm serious. I'm impressed." She has worried for years that his atrocious health habits were going to drop him dead, and when he finally makes an effort, she doesn't praise him for months. It requires her old building to be torn down for her to say something nice to him. "I'm sorry I haven't mentioned it," she adds. "But I hope you're not just eating protein and fat."

"I'm a Florida boy now," he says cheerfully. "On the South Beach Diet but I sure as hell don't hang out in South Beach. Nothing but fags down there."

"That's an awful thing to say," she replies, and she hates it when he talks like that, which is why he does it.

"Remember the oven down there?" Marino continues his reminiscing. "You always knew when they was burning up bodies down there, because smoke would be coming out the chimney." He points to a black crematorium smokestack on top of the battered old building. "When I used to see ol' smoky going, I didn't particularly want to be driving around down here breathing the air."

Scarpetta glides past the rear of the building, and it is still intact and looks exactly the way it did last time she saw it. The parking lot is empty except for a big yellow tractor that is parked almost exactly where she used to park when she was chief, just to the right of the massive closed bay door. For an instant, she hears the screeching and complaining of that door cranking up or down when the big green and red buttons inside were pressed. She hears voices, hearses and ambulances rumbling, doors opening and slamming shut, and the clack and clatter of stretcher legs and wheels as shrouded bodies were rolled up and down the ramp, the dead in and out, day and night, night and day, coming and going.

"Take a good look," she says to Marino.

"I did the first time you went around the block," he replies. "You plan on us driving around in circles all day?"

"We'll circle it twice. Take a good look."

Turning left on Main Street, she drives a little faster around the demolition site, thinking that pretty soon it will look like an amputee's raw stump. When the back parking lot comes into view again, she notices a man in olive-green pants and a black jacket standing close to the big yellow tractor, doing something to the engine. She can tell he is having a problem with his tractor, and she wishes he wouldn't stand in front of the huge back tire, doing whatever he's doing to the engine.

"I think you might want to leave the cap in the car," she says to Marino.

"Huh?" Marino asks, and his big weathered face looks at her.

"You heard me. A little friendly advice for your own good," she says as the tractor and the man recede behind her and are gone.

"You always say something's friendly and for my own good," he answers. "And it never is." He takes off the LAPD cap and looks at it thoughtfully, his bald head glistening with sweat. The scant quota of gray hair nature is kind enough to allot him is gone by his design.

"You never did tell me why you started shaving your head," she says.

"You never asked."

"I'm asking." She turns north, heading away from the building toward Broad Street and going the speed limit now.

"It's the in thing," he replies. "Point is, if you ain't got hair, may as well get rid of it."

"I suppose that makes sense," she says. "As much sense as anything."

--from Trace by Patricia Cornwell, Copyright © 2004 Patricia Cornwell, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with perimssion from the publisher.

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  • Posted January 12, 2012

    not so great

    I really loved the first few Scarpetta books and couldn't wait to read the next in the series. As soon as Cornwell brought Benton back to life the books have gone downhill. Lucy is annoying and stuck up, Kay seems to be in a depressing daze with no purpose, Benton seems to have mental issues. I am losing interest fast and don't know if I want to bother with the rest of the series at this point.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2012

    Why are they touting this as a new release?

    Why is this listed as a new release? This is #13 in the scarpetta series and we are up to #20 now. NOT NEW!!!!!! I almost purchased this because of the new cover. DO NOT BE FOOLED!!!!!!!!!

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2006

    I want my money back!

    I have assumed the Scarpetta novels have been written as a series, but this book clearly states Scarpetta was fired from her position in Virginia...the previous book had her resigning that position. What happened? Of the main character, a lot more of the same: Scapetta is a legend in her own mind. In this installment, the Benton and the Lucy characters seem to have been 'forced' into the story. It probably would have been a better story without them. Actually, the Lucy character should be dropped altogether. She was a potentially wonderful character with extraordinary intelligence and amazing talents, but the author has turned her into something most despicable: Lucy is a murderer and a homosexual predator preying upon young women who often happen to be in an emotionally challenged stage of life. Lucy also appears to be a pyschopathic personality who has trouble controlling her actions and only due to the intervention of others, she has somehow avoided disastrous results. This is not a good role model for your sister or daughter! Finally, the author has painted a most unflattering picture of the person (Dr. Marcus) who took Scarpetta's job in Virginia but failed to give the reader closure on that front: What happened to the Marcus character? If buying future Scarpetta novels is the price to pay to get that answer, the price is too high. I will not be reading any more of Cornwell's books and I would not recommend them to anyone.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2007

    Mostly in Agreement

    I am mostly in agreement with most of the other reviewers. I am dragging myself through this book, I have put it down 5-6 times and force myself to pick it back up again. I bought it for a beach read and I am ready to fling it into the ocean.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    I am extremely disappointed and feel cheated by the author and t

    I am extremely disappointed and feel cheated by the author and the publisher. I pre-ordered this book thinking it was a new one by Ms. Cornwell. Due date was July 3 and I have just opened it. Ms. Cornwell gave a 2012 prologue however the book itself is listed as a 2004 publication and I have found I had read this at that time. It seems the author has really gone downhill. Her last several books have not been her best or anywhere near what she used to be. I for one will not be scammed again and accept her on long ago reputation.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2004

    This Sucks!

    As a, previously, avid fan of PC, it is difficult to accept the fact that either she has either lost interest in her craft or become divorced from her previous standards for storytelling. Blow Fly was a odd book but still readable. Even her laughable Jack the Ripper tome was entertaining. This one...well, perhaps I am old-fashioned, but a book should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Trace starts out interestingly enough with a call back to Richmond, a place of painful memories, from someone Scarpetta does not know, for an investigation to which she will not be made privy until she arrives. Why would any consultant possibly accept? Why did she? The mid-book is a series of glimses into the angst of her recurring characters which does little to help the reader understand them or strengthen the plot. The nearly unbelieveable plot is a masterpiece of clues appearing deus ex machina. Finally, what happens to anyone in the book. Of the multiple threads in the book only one, the conflict between Lucy and her lesbian lover Henri, is resolved. Major characters, such as the new ME, Dr. Marcus, dissappear from the book 2/3 or the way through after his serious psycological problems and loathing of KS is well developed. What happened to the villian in the piece after he was tracked down by Marino (by following clues across the eastern seaboard based on cigars?). Hopefully, PC will donate whatever she makes on this book to some charity helping readers who are traumatized by their erstwhile favored authors. Wait for the paperback in the used book section of BN.com

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved this book. very well written. Finished it very quickly

    I loved this book. very well written. Finished it very quickly

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2012

    Got to be good!

    Kind of hard to comment when it isn't out. But it will be good I am sure!

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2006

    Disappointing

    It seemed to me that PC was trying to prove in her new style of writing that she is a good writer. Unfortunately, she wrote a bad story well. This story drug on, didn't connect the sub-plots very well (or at all), didn't use all the characters like she has in the past, and was just not exciting. Instead of not being able to put the book down, like her previous books, I could barely keep reading this one. Very disappointing.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2005

    If you must read it, rent it from the library!

    I was an avid Cornwell reader (of her early Scarpetta work), but Trace is the worst yet. I can't get past chapter 10, the writing is high school level at best. I can't focus on the story for the sloppy writing. What a disappointement. What happened to the Cornwell who grabbed you in the 1st chapter and drug you through the rollercoaster world of Kay Scarpetta and didn't let go? Come on Cornwell, we know you can do much better.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2006

    WHAT ABOUT THE PAST?

    Not too much was wrote about the fact that Benton, Marino and Lucy, allowed Kay to believe that Benton was dead. He was shown to be alive in Blowfly, but where is the fall out and consequences of such a lie. I couldn't see Kay accepting the lie and deceptions so easily, at least without any explanation or detail.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2005

    What happened to the writing style?

    I tried so hard to get started in 'Trace' but I realized that the thing that was keeping me from getting hooked was the writing style. Typically, PC writes in the first person as though I'm reading Kay's thoughts. But this book and I think the last two books as well are now in the third person. 'She did this and Kay felt that.' I hate it! I enjoyed the first PC books because of the intimacy I felt reading what Kay was thinking. I wish and hope PC returns to her old style. It was much better.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2005

    Thoughts

    I did enjoy this book as I have enjoyed all of the Scarpetta books. I've read all of them except for the last one Predator. Kay has been touched by the horrors she works with and they have changed her. The writting style I think changed because the character has changed so much over the years. Kay is no longer young. She is in the middle of a mess that she has no control over. The change of 1st to 3rd person really helped to show that she was a part of something she wasn't pulling the reins on. It was refreshing for Mrs Cornwell to show that Kay was a person that had lost control over what had been hapening and that she was getting that control back in Trace. She was taking back her sence of self.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2005

    Doesn't Measure Up

    Disappointing book. I have always loved reading about Kay Scarpetta, Lucy, Marino and the rest of the gang. I always buy her latest Scarpetta books as soon as they are out. Regrettably, the last 2 have not been worth the time to read. This book was a real disappointment. It was hard to get into and just wasn't entertaining. I really hope PC goes back to her old writing style, I miss it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2005

    Took forever to finish it

    I usually rush to the store as soon as a new Kay Scarpetta story is released, but the last two I have read have been disappointing. Usually I can't put it down, but this one I had to keep forcing myself to finish reading it--hoping it would get better. Even the characters seem different. Benton always worshipped Kay. Now he was ready to throw their relationship away over some tramp that Lucy had him babysit? Bring back the 'old' characters and their hysterical interaction. The reparte, the wit. These last two books just seem to drag instead of capture.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2005

    By far . . . not her best work!

    I have read all of Patricia Cornwall's books and for the most part really enjoyed the read! Usually I love her writing style but this book was sluggish, and the characters had little life to them. Benton's character was better off dead as far as this book is concerned. However, I am looking forward to reading her next book Predator as I have been a big fan of Cornwall.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2005

    What happened?

    I love the Kay Scarpetta novels, and have been disappointed by the last two. I started this summer reading the whole series, and I could not put them down. I read the first nine in the month of August. When I started reading Blowfly, I noticed a change. Cornwell seemed to be writing differently, and unfortunatly, it wasn't for the better. I am still a huge fan, and will continue to read anything that Cornwell writes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2005

    What a let down

    I can say this is the first P.Cromwell book I have read and might be my last. I normally read a book very quickly 'if' it is interesting enough. This one I started twice because it was slow and boring, although I love forensic talk and a good thriller...this just lacked! Just when it started getting interesting it was over and I felt like the book ended in mid sentence.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2005

    A Total Disapointment

    I have read the continuing series of Kay Scarpetta, and I can't believe how let down I was of this one. First off there was way too many story lines going on and in the end the lose ends were not acknowleged. What was the whole deal with Dr. Marcus, and how come the 'Doc' never talked to Feilding after that one meeting. Also what was the whole deal with Lucy's neighbor.I just hope 'Predator' is better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2005

    another good read, but........

    I have enjoyed the Scarpetta books, going way back. However, when I began this book, I was a little annoyed by its style, something I don't usually notice. But it jumped out at me - every paragraph was loaded with sentences using the word 'and' ( Marino was breathing heavily and he was annoying - the heat was stifling and it was beginning to bother me, Lucy was coming to visit and she was angry) OK, I made these up, but it is the general style of the writing. It's very lazy, there is no real attempt to give characters or situations a thorough, revealing description. It's done in shorthand, it's choppy and seems tossed away, as if no real thought was put into the writing. In fact, I went back to Postmortem and Cruel and Unusual, just to see if Cornwell had always had this writing style - No surprise, she hadn't. It seems like she is now churning out the books and not paying attention to the quality of the writing. However, I did enjoy the story - the plot and resolution fell together nicely - but it seemed more like an outline thrown together, rather than carefully put together as a novel. Choppy, unsatisfying writing, yet still a good story, and I will certainly read her next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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