Book Review: Fans Of Patricia Cornwell Will Enjoy Her Latest Read, ‘Chaos’

On a hot late summer evening in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her investigative partner Pete Marino respond to a call about a dead bicyclist near the Kennedy School of Government. It appears that a young woman has been attacked with almost super-human force. The analysis of a mysterious residue recovered from a wound is identified as a material that doesn’t exist on earth and it quickly becomes apparent that she and those close her are confronted with something far bigger and more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.

Patricia Cornwell is a talented writer and her latest offering tells the story of Doctor Scarpetta, the Director and Chief Medical Examiner of the Cambridge Forensic Center. Her character will be well known to those familiar with this series, for those who have not read the previous books, they will be at a loss to understand the history involved and while it is written in best part as a stand-alone read, you cannot help but feel you are missing out on important elements. The nuances and implications of certain situations pass you by and leave a hole that cannot be filled.

The story is about a young bicyclist found dead in a park. When Kay receives word of this, she just happens to be having dinner with her FBI husband when he receives a call also. Almost immediately, they part ways to deal with their own individual situations. And so it begins, an investigation into a possible homicide and Kay takes you through it very slowly, and painstakingly. You can almost smell the decomposition of the body. Cornwell’s attention to detail is exacting and slow and she weaves the background of the victim, and the men and women working with her so the picture you receive is well-defined but at the same time, chaos. The title is very apt.

Being Kay Scarpetta, we get a very well-told tale that she solves, of course, and her followers will enjoy the telling, all the while, the excitement is maintained to a certain degree. I found the book very slow and dare I say it, tedious in parts. Followers and fans of the series will undoubtedly enjoy the story but for us mere mortals, unfamiliar with Scarpetta, I was glad when it was over.

Available in bookstores now

Ann McDonald

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