In Cornwell’s overstuffed 28th adventure for Scarpetta (after Livid), the medical examiner joins with other recurring characters to solve a pair of brutal murders. Scarpetta and Pete Marino, her longtime associate and brother-in-law, are called to the wilderness of Buckingham Run in northern Virginia to examine the corpses of outdoor enthusiasts Huck and Brittany Manson. Brittany’s nude body was found floating in a lake, impaled by two hiking poles; Huck, also nude and mutilated, was discovered in a nearby mine shaft, his body caught in collapsed wooden scaffolding. Why were they killed so savagely? And why does the U.S. government want their autopsies conducted in secret? The deeper Scarpetta and Marino dig, the more questions emerge, with early evidence pointing toward an international terrorist organization bent on bringing down the U.S. Cornwell burdens her narrative with an excess of subplots, including dull glimpses of Marino’s rocky marriage, the discovery of a potential Bigfoot print, and political in-fighting at Scarpetta’s office, all of which cause the pace to drag. Even hardcore fans might struggle with this one. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR PATRICIA CORNWELL: “Dr. Kay Scarpetta, who keeps us coming back to Patricia Cornwell’s sprawling crime novels, is one tough broad.”—New York Times Book Review
“Scarpetta is brilliant, compassionate and humble, excelling in her profession and in diplomacy."—Library Journal, Starred Review for Autopsy
Patricia Cornwell is a “masterful mysterian.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Everyone knows Scarpetta; she has the wit, intelligence, and strength that any forensic sleuth should own. This never-stop action plot is yet another gift to readers from Patricia Cornwell-a literary artist that is never going to stop writing some of the best and most memorable thrillers out there.”—Suspense Magazine
"Cornwell’s demonic plot shifts and changes almost page by page, so the reader’s spun round not knowing what to believe.”—Providence Journal, Praise for Depraved Heart
Kay Scarpetta travels deep into rural Virginia to retrieve the bodies of two potential spies who have been savaged by a seemingly invisible assassin–or maybe it was Bigfoot?!
After a dismally busy Halloween night at Virginia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Scarpetta is preparing to join her niece, Secret Service agent Lucy Farinelli, to travel by helicopter to claim the bodies of Huck and Brittany Manson, owners of an outdoor gear store who are suspected of spying for the Russians and/or the Chinese. Much of the novel is taken up by this retrieval mission, relayed in typical Cornwell fashion with a great deal of detail and description about preparation and procedure. The Mansons’ bodies are ravaged, the campsite is destroyed, and the trail cameras the Secret Service hacked failed to capture the assailant. Investigator, staunch Scarpetta ally, and Bigfoot enthusiast Pete Marino is already on the ground and has taken a cast of an enormous footprint near one of the bodies. When they return to Richmond with the bodies for autopsy, Scarpetta faces off with a former employee who is seeking to discredit her. Her sense of unease about the situation grows when husband Benton Wesley, now advising the Secret Service, and a group of government officials insist on remotely observing the autopsy. She finds a micro hard drive embedded in Brittany’s hip, which seems to be what the murderer was seeking but failed to locate. It’s been more than 30 years since Scarpetta’s debut, and she’s still seeking dignity for the victims under her care while fighting against shadowy government forces and long-standing nemeses. The past several novels have re-introduced a foe previously presumed dead, and this one continues to leave that storyline wide open.
Formulaic, but there’s still enough for the loyalists. It’s a safe bet that Scarpetta will return.