Monday, October 24, 2016

Review of "Dust" by Patricia Cornwell

Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta has an abundance of troubles: she's traumatized after the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings; she's recovering from a bad flu; her head investigator Pete Marino has bailed on her; her FBI profiler husband - Benton Wesley - is on the outs with his boss; and a serial killer seems to be at work in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she lives.

As usual in Patricia Cornwell's series, Kay and Benton are in the cross-hairs of self-serving or demented bad guys - and have to contend with them while concurrently chasing criminals. Pete Marino is also true to form, resentful that Kay never fell in love with him and determined to make her life difficult by behaving in a childish, crude, and unpleasant manner. Personally, I've had about enough of Pete Marino and wish that Kay would cut him loose so he'd disappear from future books.

Kay's genius niece Lucy is also on hand - and in this book she's behaving a little better than usual - refraining from getting involved with psychopaths and using her IT skills to help the investigation. Lucy, however, is a hard to believe "over-the-top" character: she drives around town in an armored SUV worthy of the Russian mob, flies helicopters, hacks into any computer anywhere, and so on. I liked Lucy much better when she was a youngster in the early Scarpetta books.

The plot of the book is fairly straightforward. Kay is determined to help capture a sadistic murderer who apparently killed several people in Washington, D.C. before heading for Massachusetts. Kay is thwarted, however, because the head of the FBI seems to be tampering with the evidence and a large, wealthy, corrupt corporation is also obstructing the investigation. Kay carries on trying to catch the perp, however, and does numerous forensic examinations that are described in great detail. Readers interested in this type of thing will probably like this book.

Though this book is a little better than the last couple of books in the Scarpetta series it isn't as good as the early books. I'd mildly recommend it to mystery fans, a little more if they're huge Scarpetta fans.

Rating: 3 stars

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