Friday, July 30, 2010

Thoughts on a book: The Scarpetta Factor

I like Patricia Corwell's writing because the plot is always a puzzle and sometimes you have the first pieces so early you dont recognise them for what they are......  Why note a homeless man?  Why does a rival give you a hug?

This book continues the backstory that has been an undercurrent over the past six or seven of these crime novels which follow the career of Dr Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner, her niece Lucy and husband Benton Wesley, formerly of the FBI.  The writing is fast paced and hard to put down, not the least because there's always a lot to keep in mind.

The story begins with the body of Toni Darien in the Manhatten morgue and Scarpetta's care to make sense of anomalies the body presents.  Nearby her husband Benton, working at Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, is beginning to worry about a handmade Christmas card addressed to him, and with a sinister song recorded on its tiny circuit. Scarpetta's niece Lucy is snowbound in Vermont, trying to salvage something from a weekend with her partner and simultaneously searching the internet for clues to the mystery her aunt faces on the autopsy table.  Before long there are threads to follow and tangles to unwind, and Benton realises almost too late that everything is part of something very much bigger and more frightening than anyone but the FBI will believe.

As I read, it occured to me that here was the echo I had felt when I first read the Millenium books....  Lucy Farinelli calls to mind Lisbeth Salander.  Each is a computer whiz-kid, talking in codes that only other similarly minded people can follow, only too aware of how much information is stored and how each store can be opened, accessed and manipulated from afar.  Each is basically a solitary person although Lucy is more socially presentable in her own skin than Lisbeth who communicates best when disguised by dress or the anonymity of a chat room.  Each wears leathers and determinedly androgenous clothes on their slight figures.

It was only when I got to the end of this book that I remembered one of the things that had charmed me when I began to read Scarpetta stories, years ago.....  the cooking.  Pasta, rich aromatic sauces, shopping for ingredients to fill the house with memories of family and friends and times shared; a glass of wine to drink while lovingly preparing the simplest and tastiest of midnight snacks.

I do like a book with lots of different aspects to it!

The Scarpetta Factor, Patricia Cornwell, Griffin Press 2009 (ISBN 978-0-316-73317-5)

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