Tag Cornwell

2009: #88 – Unnatural Exposure (Patricia Cornwell)

unnatural Book #88 was Unnatural Exposure, the eighth book in Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series.  The back of the book reads:

When the body of an elderly woman is found dismembered in a Virginia landfill, forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta initially believes that the clues mirror that of a serial killer she’s encountered before. But upon further investigation she discovers puzzling pox-like eruptions on the woman’s body that, perhaps, point in another direction.

The killer then contacts Scarpetta via e-mail, and she enlists the aid of her computer-savvy niece, Lucy, to help track this monster through cyberspace. When Scarpetta learns that the Virginia victim was exposed to a high-tech virus that might unleash an epidemic, she begins to realize that she’s dealing with a sophisticated and devious mind.

Her investigation leads her to the government’s biological defense facility in Utah and to Atlanta’s Center for Disease Control–and eventually to quarantine, when it’s discovered that Scarpetta has been exposed to this often fatal virus. Along the way, she’s forced to deal with the unscrupulous ambitions of a slick FBI agent, Lucy’s problems, and her own turbulent feelings for Agent Wesley Benton.

Taut with unrelieved tension and continual surprises, Unnatural Exposure is the case of Kay Scarpetta’s life–and a triumph for Patricia Cornwell.

I’m just not sure what to think about this series.  I like forensics angle, and the mystery, but these later books are just so bogged down in the sturm und drang of Kay’s life. Oh, the malaise! Kay Scarpetta has the angst of your average 15 year old girl, and it’s starting to get in the way. The story here is interesting and does make you wonder about what would have to happen if a disease such as smallpox were to be used as a weapon, and the final confrontation was good, but I found the "who" in the "whodunnit" rather unsatisfying. Part of what makes a mystery satisfying is the discovery of whether or not you are right in your suspicions, but in this book there really was no way to figure it out ahead of time. Yet, I keep reading them.

Page count: 384 | Word count: 86,791

2008: I’m Watching You (Mary Burton)
2007: The Ritual Bath (Faye Kellerman)
2006: You Belong To Me (Mary Higgins Clark)

Used in these Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge 2009; Read Your Own Books Challenge;

2007: #67 – Portrait of a Killer (Patricia Cornwell)

Book #67 was Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper — Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell. The back of the book reads:

America’s #1 bestselling crime writer solves the case that has baffled experts for more than a century.

For over 100 years the Jack the Ripper murders have remained among the world’s greatest unsolved crimes, and theories have been posited which point the finger at royalty, a barber, a doctor, a woman, and an artist. Using her formidable range of forensic and technical skills, bestselling author Patricia Cornwell has applied the rigorous discipline of twenty-first-century police investigation to the extant material, and here unmasks the killer.

Cornwell makes a good circumstantial case against Walter Richard Sickert, a painter. She blames him not only for the 5 murders attributed to Jack the Ripper, but for several others as well, including the murders of several children. Unfortunately, there’s no real physical proof, and apparently no room in this book for dissenting opinions.

I listened to what is apparently an abridged version of this book, despite owning a hard copy. I really don’t feel the need to pick up the book and fill in the blanks.

Page count: 400 | Approximate word count: 124,519

2006 – The Grim Grotto (Lemony Snicket)
2005 – Hell at the Breech (Tom Franklin)

2007: #29 – From Potter's Field (Patricia Cornwell)

Book #29 was From Potter’s Field, the 6th book in Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. The back of the book reads:

An unidentified nude female sits propped against a fountain in Central Park. There are no signs of struggle. When Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her colleagues Benton Wesley and Pete Marino arrive on the scene, they instantly recognize the signature of serial killer Temple Brooks Gault. Scarpetta, on assignment with the FBI, visits the New York City morgue on Christmas morning, where she must use her forensic expertise to give a name to the nameless–a difficult task. But as she sorts through conflicting forensic clues, Gault claims his next victim. He has infiltrated the FBI’s top secret artificial-intelligence system developed by Scarpetta’s niece, and sends taunting messages as his butchery continues, moving terrifyingly closer to Scarpetta herself.

I started this series near the end and then went back to the beginning. I think that if I had started at the beginning I would have given it up by now. This series is merely “meh” for me. The storylines are entertaining enough, but it seems like the last few books have just been major downers. Everyone is so unhappy all the time. Every single one of them! I’m not sure I can take all the melancholy.

Page count: 352 | Word count: 94,719 | Filed in:

2006: #107 – Chase (Dean Koontz); #108 – The Body Farm (Patricia Cornwell)

chase.gifBook #107 was Chase, by Dean Koontz. The back of the book reads:

Benjamin Chase, Vietnam War hero, finds himself the target of a sociopathic killer when he interrupts a murder in progress.

I listened to this in the car and while raking leaves, and was surprised at how short it was. I’ve previously mentioned my love/hate relationship with Koontz, and I think I can place this one on the “like” side of the equation. I wasn’t expecting the story to resolve so quickly — I expected Chase to play with the killer a while after he found him. Overall, a mildly entertaining read (listen?).


body.gifBook #108 was The Body Farm, the 5th book in Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. The back of the book reads:

When an eleven-year-old girl is found murdered, Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia, gets another chance at stopping one of the most heartless and horrifying serial killers of her career: the demented Temple Gault.

Frankly, this one was very blah for me. The book was not so much about the case as it was about the relationships between Kay and Marino, Marino and Benton Wesley, Kay and Wesley, and Kay and Lucy. Oh, and Kay and her sister. Blah. Too much angst for a crime novel. And I figured out who the bad guy was waaaaaaaaaay early.

Book count: 108

Pages in book: 368
Page count: 44,802
Words in book: 92,855
Word count: 13,155,022

1,000,000 words surpassed — 2/2/06
2,000,000 words surpassed — 2/14/06
10,000 pages surpassed — 3/10/06
3,000,000 words surpassed — 3/16/06
4,000,000 words surpassed — 4/3/06
5,000,000 words surpassed — 5/30/06
50 books surpassed — 6/12/06
20,000 pages surpassed — 6/29/06
6,000,000 words surpassed — 6/29/06
7,000,000 words surpassed — 7/21/06
8,000,000 words surpassed — 8/18/06
30,000 pages surpassed — 9/3/06
9,000,000 words surpassed — 9/6/06
10,000,000 words surpassed — 9/27/06

11,000,000 words surpassed — 10/9/06
40,000 pages surpassed — 11/3/06
12,000,000 words surpassed — 11/4/06
100 books surpassed — 11/17/06
13,000,000 words surpassed — 12/5/06

2006: #74 – Outlander (Diana Gabaldon); #75 – Cruel and Unusual (Patricia Cornwell)

outlander.gifBook #74 was Outlander, the first book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. The back of the book reads:

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

I can’t say enough about this book. I was in love with it by the time I’d read 100 pages. In fact, it’s an 800+ page book and I read it in about 4 days. And I’ve *already* reread parts. I think I’ve read the final chapter 4 times now. I’m not sure what makes it affect me so. It’s very passionate, and the suspense in parts is so much that I think I stopped breathing. I mean, you’re pretty sure that certain people aren’t going to die, but you’re not *quite* sure. And at one point there’s a decision that has to be made, and there’s no foreshadowing of what that decision might be. Sometimes you can tell by the number of pages left in the book, but this could have gone either way. I almost stopped reading because I didn’t want her to make the choice I didn’t want!

Anyway, I am hooked. I went out on Monday and bought the next 4 books in the series, and I can’t tell you the last time I paid full price for paperbacks. I started the second book last night, and already my mind is racing!

Book count: 74
Pages in book: 896
Page count: 30,601
Words in book: 294,555

Word count: 8,978,914


cruel.gifBook #75 was Cruel & Unusual, book #4 in Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. The back of the book reads:

“Killing me won’t kill the beast” are the last words of rapist-murderer Ronnie Joe Waddell, written four days before his execution. But they can’t explain how Dr. Kay Scarpetta finds Waddell’s fingerprints on another crime scene — after she’d performed his autopsy. If this is some sort of game, Scarpetta seems to be the target. And if the next victim is someone she knows, the punishment will be cruel and unusual…

Not a bad installment. I don’t enjoy these early ones as much as the later ones. The wrap-ups often seem clunky and convenient. Lucy’s character in this one is somewhat harsh, but there’s shadows of what’s to come with her.

Book count: 75
Pages in book: 416
Page count: 31,017
Words in book: 100,467

Word count: 9,079,381

1,000,000 words surpassed — 2/2/06
2,000,000 words surpassed — 2/14/06
10,000 pages surpassed — 3/10/06
3,000,000 words surpassed — 3/16/06
4,000,000 words surpassed — 4/3/06
5,000,000 words surpassed — 5/30/06
50 books surpassed – 6/12/06
20,000 pages surpassed — 6/29/06
6,000,000 words surpassed — 6/29/06
7,000,000 words surpassed — 7/21/06
8,000,000 words surpassed — 8/18/06
30,000 pages surpassed — 9/3/06
9,000,000 words surpassed — 9/6/06

2006: #49 – All That Remains (Patricia Cornwell)

remains.gifBook #49 was All That Remains, the 3rd book in Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. The back of the book reads:

A serial killer is loose in Richmond, specializing in attractive young couples whose bodies are invariably found in the woods months later — minus their shoes andsocks. Chief Medical Officer Dr Kay Scarpetta finds herself tracking a killer whoscrupulously eliminates every clue, rendering all her forensic skills useless. This time it’s her courage and intuition on the line in a race against time.

It’s interesting to read these early books in the series after reading a lot of the later ones. Fills in the blanks on some of the back story. Overall, this one was pretty good, though there was some stuff jumped over in the end, like Cornwell didn’t want to go over a certain number of pages, so she just refers to it instead of actually writing about it.

Book count: 49
Pages in book: 416
Page count: 19,283
Words in book: 107,070

Word count: 5,592,898

1,000,000 words surpassed — 2/2/06
2,000,000 words surpassed — 2/14/06
10,000 pages surpassed — 3/10/06
3,000,000 words surpassed — 3/16/06
4,000,000 words surpassed — 4/3/06

5,000,000 words surpassed — 5/30/06

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