Author: Patricia Cornwell
Series: Kay Scarpetta, #21
Published: November 13 2013
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Lenght: 14 hrs and 7 mins
After working one of the worst mass killings in U.S. history, Scarpetta returns home to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Exhausted and ill, she's recovering at home when she receives an unsettling call. The body of a young woman has been discovered on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's rugby field. The victim, a graduate student named Gail Shipman, is oddly draped in ivory linen and posed in a way that is too deliberate to be the killer's first strike. A preliminary examination in the sea of red mud where the body has been left also reveals a bizarre residue that fluoresces blood red, emerald green, and sapphire blue.Physical evidence links the case to a series of uniquely weird homicides in Washington, D.C., where Scarpetta's FBI husband has been deployed to help capture a serial killer dubbed the Capital Murderer. The cases all connect and yet seem to conflict. Gail Shipman was murdered for financial gain - or was she? It will require the usual ensemble of characters to find out the truth, including Scarpetta's sidekick Pete Marino, who has undergone a drastic change in his life that places him center stage in a Cambridge investigation that puts everyone at risk.
I should say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I grew up with the Kay Scarpetta series. I started reading it in my early teens and stayed with it through good times and bad, several awful books and many spectacular ones, deaths, disasters, epidemics, and many, many tears. To say that I’m a bit biased is an understatement; after 22 installments, these characters are practically family, their hurts are mine and their successes something I celebrate with a smile and a full heart.
Admittedly, the series went through a very rough patch just recently. Several books were written in third person POV, for no apparent reason other than Cornwell experimenting, and it was in that time that she lost a great number of her readers. I myself came very close to abandoning her, too. But the second she went back to first person narrative and Kay Scarpetta’s sharp and intelligent voice, those of us who are most faithful to her didn’t hesitate for a second.
In Dust, we find Scarpetta in a very bad place. She just survived a horrible ordeal and she’s down with the flu. With Benton away in Washington DC, she is alone in their huge house, with no one but their rescued dog for company. When a case comes her way, a murder Kay knows is more than it seems, she has to get up and work with Pete Marino, regardless of their strained relationship.
The case itself is extremely sensitive and complicated. With her husband Benton Wesley ostracized by his FBI peers and her niece Lucy Farinelli somehow involved, Kay must walk around on eggshells, careful of her every word. It’s not just the case that’s at risk, but all their careers and Lucy’s freedom as well. With Marino kept in the dark and acting more like an enemy than an ally, our dr. Scarpetta has a very difficult task ahead.
Just like the series itself, Kay and Benton’s marriage went through a pretty rough patch, but we see a significant change in Dust. As I was growing up, Benton was always my idea of a perfect man: highly intelligent, polished, graceful and strong, radiating confidence and competence both. Dust reads a little like a love letter to him, which I didn’t mind one bit. It’s been a long time since we’ve really seen him through Kay’s eyes – him, and not accumulated resentment and hurt. Even close to retirement, in his late fifties (or so I assume), Benton is marvelous.
Kate Reading did an excellent job with Scarpetta’s voice, making it sound calm and measured, extremely educated and intelligent, but never cold. Scarpetta’s feelings may be well hidden from everyone, sometimes including Benton, but they’re never hidden from us, not when we’re privy to her thoughts.
I am thrilled to see this series finally back on track, and after 14 hours with Kay, Lucy, Marino and Benton, I’m looking forward to many, many more.