In this provocative thriller, forensic expert Kay Scarpetta is surrounded by familiar faces, yet traveling down the unfamiliar road of fame....
It is the week before Christmas. A tanking economy has prompted Dr. Kay Scarpetta—despite her busy schedule and her continuing work as the senior forensic analyst for CNN—to offer her services pro bono to New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. In no time at all, her increased visibility seems to precipitate a string of unexpected and unsettling events, culminating in an ominous package—possibly a bomb—showing up at the front desk of the apartment building where she and her husband, Benton, live. Soon the apparent threat on Scarpetta’s life finds her embroiled in a surreal plot that includes a famous actor accused of an unthinkable sex crime and the disappearance of a beautiful millionaire with whom her niece, Lucy, seems to have shared a secret past.
Scarpetta’s CNN producer wants her to launch a TV show called The Scarpetta Factor. Given the bizarre events already in play, she fears that her growing fame will generate the illusion that she has a “special factor,” a mythical ability to solve all her cases. She wonders if she will end up like other TV personalities: her own stereotype.
Bestseller Cornwell's solid 17th thriller to feature Dr. Kay Scarpetta (after Scarpetta) finds Scarpetta who's the senior forensic analyst for CNN probing the murder of a Central Park jogger as well as looking into the disappearance of Hannah Starr, a wealthy financial planner. Quizzed on-air about previously undisclosed details of the perplexing Starr case, Scarpetta realizes that the tentacles of the case reach further than she imagined. Her niece, forensic computer whiz Lucy Farinelli, has her own reasons for digging into Starr's disappearance, along with Lucy's girlfriend, New York County ADA Jaime Berger. NYPD Det. Pete Marino, another series staple, is also in the loop as a member of Berger's task force. But it's the dark past of Scarpetta's psychologist husband, Benton Wesley particularly his presumed death in Point of Origin and shocking reappearance five years later in Blow Fly that binds the disparate pieces together and make this one of Cornwell's stronger recent efforts.
I thought this was a better read than some of the latest ones. Old faces, good drama, good balance of story and character building.
The Scarpetta Factor
As a long time reader of the Scarpetta series I have enjoyed the exploits of the heroines and the criminals for years. Over the course of the last two books I have been disappointed in the failure of the characters to find a pace consistent with their stage of life. Particularly in The Scarpetta Factor I was ready to stop reading if subjected to another dialogue of paint analysis or description of rugs in a mansion. Maybe it's time for a human monster that has more character development than has been devoted to the Dodies and the Hannahs of this tome. I was left with the impression that Kay is becoming senile in the last two chapters of this book as she wanders into her building. Where is the indignation she previously had when sloppy procedures were observed? I am left wanting more from what is billed s a great forensic mind. My estimation of this book is that it brings in current sociological issues and throws them into the mix without providing an interesting structure to build the plot. Every character in my final review is miserable in some emotional context, is self absorbed to the point that they would not be able to function in the professional positions, and would not be able to capture anything beyond my fleeting interest because of their dour obsessions with their own issues. This work could be boiled down to crucial matters into a magazine article rather than a book. My next Scarpetta book will not be purchased but might be checked out from the library if reviews are solid. I am glad that this was an e-book purchase for me so that I don't have to feel wasteful of paper. I know that characters may sometimes fade after a decade in print, but these characters are becoming distasteful to me. Let them die out if they are not passionate about life and other people again. I would tale them off my Christmas card list if they cannot reach out to others for a better quality of life, maybe send Lucy to jail for hacking since that is illegal and doesn't create the suspense anymore of being crime fighters. I am so sorry it has fizzled to this as if it is now more ash than dynamite. Using the terms without setting a stage is not enough for me in this tome.
Total waste of 10 dollars. Patricia Cornwell used to be my favorite author, but I am officially done with giving her books second chances. I will not be buying Red Mist.