#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell returns with the remarkable twenty-fourth thriller in her popular high-stakes series starring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta.
In the quiet of twilight, on an early autumn day, twenty-six-year-old Elisa Vandersteel is killed while riding her bicycle along the Charles River. It appears she was struck by lightning—except the weather is perfectly clear with not a cloud in sight. Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the Cambridge Forensic Center’s director and chief, decides at the scene that this is no accidental Act of God.
Her investigation becomes complicated when she begins receiving a flurry of bizarre poems from an anonymous cyberbully who calls himself Tailend Charlie. Though subsequent lab results support Scarpetta’s conclusions, the threatening messages don’t stop. When the tenth poem arrives exactly twenty-four hours after Elisa’s death, Scarpetta begins to suspect the harasser is involved, and sounds the alarm to her investigative partner Pete Marino and her husband, FBI analyst Benton Wesley.
She also enlists the help of her niece, Lucy. But to Scarpetta’s surprise, tracking the slippery Tailend Charlie is nearly impossible, even for someone as brilliant as her niece. Also, Lucy can’t explain how this anonymous nemesis could have access to private information. To make matters worse, a venomous media is whipping the public into a frenzy, questioning the seasoned forensics chief’s judgment and "a quack cause of death on a par with spontaneous combustion."
In bestseller Cornwell's uneven 24th Kay Scarpetta novel (after 2015's Depraved Heart), the forensic pathologist investigates the bizarre death of 23-year-old Brit Elisa Vandersteelis, who was riding her bicycle in a Cambridge, Mass., park when she suffered a fatal electrical burn that looks like a lightning strike but isn't. Meanwhile, Scarpetta's FBI agent husband, Benton Wesley, is called away on matters of national security, which turn out to involve the sudden death of Gen. John Briggs, a long-time friend of Scarpetta's and one of the backers of her Cambridge Forensic Center. Electricity seemed to play a role in his death, too, making Scarpetta believe there's a connection. Of course, whenever there's a series of suspicious deaths, the specter of Carrie Grethen, Scarpetta's nemesis, isn't far from her thoughts. Coupled with threats she's been receiving from the mysterious Tailend Charlie, these new deaths appear to fit Carrie's MO. Lots of cutting-edge forensic detail and some revelatory character moments help compensate for a plot with only occasional flashes of narrative energy.
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As good as it gets if you like crime forensics, and the author is as good as it gets in this genre!