Flesh and Blood
on Tour August 2015
It’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s birthday, and she’s about to head to Miami for a vacation with Benton Wesley, her FBI profiler husband, when she notices seven pennies on a wall behind their Cambridge house. Is this a kids’ game? If so, why are all of the coins dated 1981 and so shiny they could be newly minted? Her cellphone rings, and Detective Pete Marino tells her there’s been a homicide five minutes away. A high school music teacher has been shot with uncanny precision as he unloaded groceries from his car. No one has heard or seen a thing.
In this 22nd Scarpetta novel, the master forensic sleuth finds herself in the unsettling pursuit of a serial sniper who leaves no incriminating evidence except fragments of copper. The shots seem impossible, yet they are so perfect they cause instant death. The victims appear to have had nothing in common, and there is no pattern to indicate where the killer will strike next. First New Jersey, then Massachusetts, and then the murky depths off the coast of South Florida, where Scarpetta investigates a shipwreck, looking for answers that only she can discover and analyze. And it is there that she comes face to face with shocking evidence that implicates her techno genius niece, Lucy, Scarpetta’s own flesh and blood.
I’ve been a Kay Scarpetta fan since Postmortem was released in 1990 and I jumped at the chance to review Flesh and Blood. Author Patricia Cornwell has always been a masterful storyteller who could keep me up all night to finish her books in one sitting and leave me too terrified to go to sleep when I did finally finish. I expected the same from F&B.
Flesh and Blood has an interesting premise. Cornwell sets the scene well with what promises to be a suspenseful and terrifying murder mystery and I really enjoyed the first half. But somewhere along the way, the plot was sacrificed in favor of modern gadgetry and digital subterfuge that undermined the story.
Scarpetta is a forensic medical examiner who solves complicated crimes by following clues she uncovers during autopsy and the subsequent investigation. In F&B, she didn’t autopsy a single victim, relying instead on the work of others, which is out of character for her. Her detective partner, Marino, was a hot mess who couldn’t pick up on the simplest non-verbal cues from Scarpetta even thought they have worked together for what seems like 20 years. And her FBI profiler husband Benton and tech genius niece Lucy were too concerned with hiding important information from Scarpetta than using what they knew to actually solve the crime. I was really disappointed in the professional performance of all of them. Which upsets me, because I love them dearly.
Flesh and Blood was full of cool high tech toys and modern forensics, but was lacking in flesh and blood. Devoted fans of the series will overlook its flaws and hang on the cliffhanger ending until they can pick up the next book, but new readers may not be convinced.
Read an excerpt:
Patricia Cornwell is recognized as one of the world’s top bestselling crime authors with novels translated into thirty-six languages in more than 120 countries. Her novels have won numerous prestigious awards including the Edgar, the Creasey, the Anthony, the Macavity, and the Prix du Roman d’Aventure. Beyond the Scarpetta series, she has written a definitive book about Jack the Ripper, a biography, and two more fiction series. Cornwell, a licensed helicopter pilot and scuba diver, actively researches the cutting-edge forensic technologies that inform her work. She was born in Miami, grew up in Montreat, North Carolina, and now lives and works in Boston.
Thank you to Partners in Crime Tours for letting me be a part of this tour!