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.
Patricia Cornwell is on target - and spectacularly so - with her latest Kay Scarpetta thriller...
October 26, 2003
"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.
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.
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
Praise for Blow Fly
“[A] grisly fast-paced thriller.”—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
“This novel adds unpredictable dimensions to the character of Kay Scarpetta and those closest to her, and with its remarkable criminals and shocking climax, it is a must-read, especially for followers of Cornwell and Scarpetta.”—The Tampa Tribune
“This is, in some ways, the most shocking Scarpetta...Highly recommended.”—Library Journal