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Forensic expert Kay Scarpetta is surrounded by familiar faces, yet traveling down the unfamiliar road of fame. A CNN producer wants her to launch a TV show called "The Scarpetta Factor." But the glare of the spotlight could make Kay a target. Available in a tall Premium Edition.
- ISBN-13: 9780399156397
- ISBN-10: 0399156399
- Publisher: Putnam Adult
- Publish Date: October 2009
- Page Count: 512
- Reading Level: Ages 18-UP
Series: Kay Scarpetta Mysteries
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 46.
- Review Date: 2009-09-28
- Reviewer: Staff
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. (Oct.)
Scarpetta is back in NYC
Reading The Scarpetta Factor, Patricia Cornwell’s 17th novel about medical examiner Kay Scarpetta and her gang of detectives and forensic criminologists, is not unlike taking a 500-page romp on a Tilt-a-Whirl.
Diehard Cornwell fans already know the drill, but for the uninitiated: Expect plot twists to snowball at a rate of tricky-to-solve murders, bomb threats and mistaken identities popping up every few pages (with some mafia involvement thrown in, too). In other words, there’s no predicting what will happen to Scarpetta over the course of the novel. The plot loops, spins and changes directions until the very end.
In this installment, Scarpetta is working in New York City to crack the murders of high profile financial advisor Hannah Starr and beautiful waitress Toni Darien—all while serving as senior forensic analyst for CNN’s (fictitious) “The Crispin Report.” Her husband, forensic psychiatrist Benton Wesley, is caught up in the case of a patient who may (or may not) be connected to Scarpetta’s murders. Rounding out the crew are NYPD detective Pete Marino, who shares a sticky past with Scarpetta, and Lucy Farinelli, Scarpetta’s computer investigator niece.
Scarpetta is serious about her work. “The body doesn’t lie,” she thinks during an argument about the timeline of a murder. “Don’t try to force the evidence to fit the crime.” When the crime starts to directly involve Scarpetta—a mysterious package shows up at her apartment; Lucy’s past involves some dangerous liaisons—the plot gets complicated as we fear for our heroine’s life.
Although Cornwell’s prose can be corny and over-dramatic (“She was volatile, couldn’t settle down, and she hated it, but hating something didn’t make it go away . . .”), The Scarpetta Factor is still a rip-roaring read, in no small part because of explicit details and forensic jargon (perhaps aided by Cornwell’s six years as a writer and computer analyst at Chief Medical Examiner’s office in Richmond, Virginia).
The point of view alternates between the main characters. Because of these shifts and the multiple details to resolve, the plot can drag; just when we think we’ll get some resolution—bam!—the narrator changes and 200 pages later we’re still wondering what’s going to happen.
Although frustrating, this technique keeps us hooked and biting nails until the end, the objective of any good crime novel.
In her childhood, Eliza Borné read a Nancy Drew book a day. She can whip through a “Scarpetta” book in about the same amount of time.