Scarpetta (Kay Scarpetta #16) by Patricia Cornwell
Leaving behind her private forensic pathology practice in Charleston, South Carolina, Kay Scarpetta accepts an assignment in New York City, where the NYPD has asked her to examine an injured man on Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric prison ward. The handcuffed and chained patient, Oscar Bane, has specifically asked for her, and when she literally has her gloved hands on him, he begins to talk—and the story he has to tell turns out to be one of the most bizarre she has ever heard.
The injuries, he says, were sustained in the course of a murder . . . that he did not commit. Is Bane a criminally insane stalker who has fixed on Scarpetta? Or is his paranoid tale true, and it is he who is being spied on, followed and stalked by the actual killer? The one thing Scarpetta knows for certain is that a woman has been tortured and murdered—and more violent deaths will follow. Gradually, an inexplicable and horrifying truth emerges: Whoever is committing the crimes knows where his prey is at all times. Is it a person, a government? And what is the connection between the victims?
In the days that follow, Scarpetta; her forensic psychologist husband, Benton Wesley; and her niece, Lucy, who has recently formed her own forensic computer investigation firm in New York, will undertake a harrowing chase through cyberspace and the all-too-real streets of the city—an odyssey that will take them at once to places they never knew, and much, much too close to home.
Throughout, Cornwell delivers shocking twists and turns, and the kind of cutting-edge technology that only she can provide. Once again, she proves her exceptional ability to entertain and enthrall.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I ended up reading this almost by accident and against my better judgement after the really poor experience with the last few books in the series. I don’t know why I downloaded it but it somehow ended up being the last book on my Kindle and it was easier to give it a go than start the process of looking for new books.
I was very surprised to find myself enjoying it! It’s a great return to the characters that I enjoyed in earlier books. Benton is still disappointing but Lucy is more engaging. There are a number of interesting characters specific to the story as well as a reintroduction of Jaime Berger from an earlier book. The tension of the relationship between Marino and Kay is handled really well and I hope it can be resolved completely in later books.
The actual story is also very good and quite compelling to read. The handling of Oscar’s story in particular was very good. Pacing is excellent once you get past the initial Oscar/Kay meeting and the unfortunately standard angst between Benton and Kay in the first quarter of the book. Once past this I found the story pretty gripping and flew through the second half in particular.
This book has finally restored my faith in the series and with another eight left I think I’ll give the next one a go as well – ever the optimist!
Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels