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Author: Patricia Cornwell

Best Part About This Book: The writing style didn’t pander to the masses, but consistently used forensic and other scientific vocabulary.

What’s Missing: An old-fashioned, whodunnit sort of thriller, which is what I prefer. This is more cold, detached, and doesn’t leave you on the edge of your seat.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

I didn’t like this book. And in fact it discourages me a little, that America could have pushed a book like this to popularity. Then again, from what I understand, Cornwell used to do better. Its descriptions of decapitated and posed bodies, suicides, and bloody killings reduce human beings to objects, play toys of twisted minds. It’s lewd–so lewd I had a nightmare the evening I began the book–and the twist, trumpeted on the back of the book as being a shocker, was disappointing. Sometimes I skimmed through the high-tech lingo when I just wanted to get to the “good stuff.” Which did happen, intermittently. This was my first Patricia Cornwell book and now I’m not likely to read another.

Cornwell has admitted a connection with herself and the main character, Kay Scarpetta. So I found it slightly narcissistic, while amusing, that she is described with “short, blonde hair” and “an extremely handsome face” with “strong and capable hands.” Then you look on the back cover and see Cornwell, the spitting image.

Characteristic of Cornwell’s writing style is her repetition of short phrases, as in: “She is hurt and angry. It is easier to be angry.” At first I thought it was an editing flaw, and then I realized it was happening too often to be an accident.

Written in the present tense, Cornwell’s diction is hard, at times crude, and sparse. I thought it was written like a man, to be honest. One of the main characters is a lesbian who’s just beginning to explore her sexuality, not a far cry from Cornwell’s own personal life.

The most interesting quote actually came in the Special Thanks section: “The most challenging and significant frontier isn’t outer space. It is the human brain and its biological role in mental illness.” Given Cornwell’s struggle with bipolar disorder, she may indeed have good insight into whether or not this statement is true.