Friday, February 7, 2014

Audiobook Review: Dust (Kay Scarpetta, #21)

Dust (Kay Scarpetta, #21)Author: Patricia Cornwell
Series: Kay Scarpetta, #21
Published: November 13 2013
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Lenght: 14 hrs and 7 mins
Buy: Audible

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.


  1. I haven't tried this series but I have heard of it. I am glad that over the years you have been able to stick with it through the good and the bad, that is dedication and should say something about the author if nothing else.

  2. I wonder if I would like this genre on

  3. I haven't read these books yet, but it sounds like quite a series if it still has you coming back for more 21 books later. I'm glad that the third person POV misadventure is in the past and that you enjoyed being back in Kay's head. Lovely review!

  4. Woahhh, twenty-two books? I'm intimidated by six-nine book series so this one has me positively frightened. While I don't think I could ever father the courage to start this, I'm amazed that this series continues to charm and excel after so many installments with the same characters! Lovely review, Maja, and I'm glad you enjoy these so much! :)

  5. It's back on track?!? OMG. That's fabulous news. I don't know what was going on but those last 5 (?) were SO dark (not in a good way) and depressing that I just couldn't read them. I miss smart Scarpetta and HATED reading depressed, sad, downtrodden Scarpetta. It was so out of character.

  6. She randomly switched to 3rd person in the middle of a 22 book series? That seems like an incredibly odd decision (and one that obviously alienated a lot of her readers). So glad this one got things back the way they had been in the beginning and I hope they continue the same way moving forward. Nothing is more disappointing than when a beloved series feels like it starts to slip, so I'm happy she was able to right this ship before it sank!

  7. I think that's the setback with books that have been around too long, authors views, opinions and experiment with writing style tends to change. that's why letting go of one and starting another to experiment with is probably better then destroying a beloved series. Glad you stuck around with this one thought and that in this installment it paid off.

  8. This sounds like a wonderful series! It seems to me that the narrator had done an excellent job with the audio version. May I ask if this may be read as a stand-alone? I'm curious about the murder mystery after reading your review. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I really have got to get into this series. I think I read The Body Farm but I really can't remember. Or maybe it was From Potter's Field? Either way it was in the middle of the series which I would never do these days. lol But holy crap, 21 installments is A LOT!

  10. I read several books in this series, I can't remember how many now, but I think at least 10. The mysteries were always detailed and kept me guessing, something that's hard to do if you read mysteries all the time, which I used to. I do remember being a bit disappointed with the last couple of books I read.

    Like you, I always loved Benton and I wanted things to be smooth sailing for their romance. But I guess that would hardly be entertaining. :)

    It looks like you enjoyed the audio version. I think there was an audible daily deal a while back that I passed on and now I could kick myself. Wonderful review, Maja. I should pick one of these up again especially if you say the series is back on track.

  11. Wow #21! I don't think I've ever read a series that long I actually often lose interest after book 9 or so hah. I have heard a lot of wonderful things about this author though so I'm def. curious. Off about the random books in 3rd POV though lol. Does she have ghost writers? Or maybe just experimenting, too. I guess she should stick to 1st person and glad she realized this. Anyways, the audio version sounds like it was well done too and this is the genre I like to listen to on audio!

  12. wow 22 books? it's impressive! I confess I read some when I was younger too but never more than 3 books I think, I should go back, I remember that I liked the ones I read. I hope the others will be as good, sometimes it canbe difficult with long series.

  13. The first books in this series were really great, but I just stopped reading sometime around the time Benton was dead and then not. By that time I had grown tired of the characters and I felt it had grown tired as well. I'm still interested in what's happening in that world. though, so maybe I should pick it back up. Audio might be a good format to get back into it.

  14. I haven't read any of her books and never really had any desire to. But now I'm kind of curious!

  15. Very deep into a series, but glad to hear it was great to be back with the characters


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