Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: Flesh and Blood

Flesh and Blood: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta, #22)Author: Patricia Cornwell
Series: Kay Scarpetta, #22
Released: November 11th 2014
Publisher: William Morrow
Length: 400 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell delivers the next enthralling thriller in her high-stakes series starring Kay Scarpetta—a complex tale involving a serial sniper who strikes chillingly close to the forensic sleuth herself.
It’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s birthday and she’s about to head to Miami for a vacation with her FBI profiler husband Benton Wesley 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 it’s as if they’re newly minted? Then 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 shocking precision as he unloaded groceries from his car. No one heard or saw a thing. It’s as if God did it.
In this 22nd Scarpetta novel, the master forensic sleuth finds herself in the middle of a nightmarish pursuit of a serial sniper who seems to leave no evidence except fragments of copper. The shots are so perfect, they cause instant death and seem impossible, and the death scenes aren’t crime scenes because the killer was never within hundreds of yards of the victims. The victims seem to have nothing in common, and there is no pattern that might indicate where the Copperhead will strike next. First New Jersey, then Massachusetts, and then into the murky depths off the coast of South Florida, where Scarpetta dives a shipwreck, looking for answers that only she can discover and analyze. There she must face an unthinkable truth that points in the direction of her techno genius niece, Lucy, Scarpetta’s own flesh and blood. 

Earlier this year, when I reviewed Dust, I mentioned that my beloved Kay Scarpetta series seems to be getting back on track. Keeping a series fresh for no less than 22 installments is something not many authors can do. There was certainly a rough patch around the middle when I considered giving up entirely, but these last two books have shown me that Cornwell is still very much in control.

Flesh and Blood is, if possible, even more suspenseful, even more exciting, even more gorgeously written. Patricia Cornwell’s writing has always been elegant and rich, but lately she has been taking it a step further, dazzling us with her beautiful sentences and the emotion behind them. That sort of writing combined with scientific facts and procedures is recognizable as something that is solely her own, unparalleled in the world of crime fiction.

Kay Scarpetta was getting ready to leave for Miami with her husband, the famous FBI profiler Benton Wesley. But even the best laid plans often go awry, so when someone shoots a man who previously slandered Scarpetta in front of president Obama, no less, she and Benton have no choice but to postpone their vacation and investigate this crime.

Is there a killer more dangerous than a sniper shooter? It’s danger one doesn’t even see coming, which makes it impossible for people to protect themselves, people including our favorite Chief medical examiner. Danger is everywhere this time, on rooftops, windows and other high places and it could strike at any time.

All our favorite characters are back together this time. After 22 installments, Kay, Benton, Lucy, Marino and even Janet really feel like family to us loyal fans. As usual, they are faced with many random facts and pieces of evidence, things that don’t seem to make sense when put together, and they need to work as a group, each of them from their own angle, to solve the crime puzzle and save lives.

My relationship with Detective Pete Marino, currently of Cambridge PD, has been somewhat tumultuous over the years, and so has Kay’s. His behavior has ranged from sweet and touching, to rude, irritating and even violent. But I have to give it to him, he is the absolute best at what he does, and he is never intimidated either by politics or by various threats. As much as I want to dislike him, as much as he deserves it, even, it’s never quite possible for me. His rudeness is awful when it’s aimed at Kay and Benton, but absolutely hilarious when he’s dealing with a suspect.

I prefer not to go into the plot more than absolutely necessary. Fans of the series will be glad to know that this novel reads very much like old Scarpetta books, before Cornwell switched to third person, multiple perspectives and almost ruined the whole thing. Now that we’ve been back to just Kay’s voice for several books, they’re getting stronger with each written page and the old charm is certainly restored.

The cliffhanger at the end was completely unusual for Cornwell and I really don’t see the need. But to be completely honest about it, it will make me reach for the next book that much faster. Can I please have it now, Ms. Cornwell? Pretty please?

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. I read the first book in the series...well a really long time ago but I loved it! I am so happy this series is back on track, 22 books is no small feat! I should check out book two.

  2. This is one of those series that I've always wanted to start but having so many books already is a bit daunting...
    Very glad to hear that despite a few not so good books it is back on track and as great as ever, even if there's a cliffhanger at the end!

  3. I haven't read a Scarpetta novel in forever, Maja! I had absolutely no idea that the series was still going on. I definitely need to get to this one then. It sounds like it's fabulous and even better than the other books.
    And yes, Pete! He had me confused so much!
    Lovely review, Maja!

  4. Wow, 22 installments!!!! This sounds along the lines of the InDeath series in terms of having a married lead couple investigating various crimes, and I LOVE that series, so I'm thinking I'll be a fan of these books as well. They'll be perfect in-between reads I can pick up just for the sheer fun of it:)

  5. I haven't read this author but I do like series where we go back to our favorite characters over and over. Especially when the secondary characters are really important too. This is quite a LONG series though!

  6. This is a series and author I have yet to explore Maja, but it has elements I know I would enjoy I am so delighted to hear the series is back on track

  7. Following up with even more suspense and excitment sounds like a great follow up

  8. I'm glad you're enjoying this series so much! I need to check it out - I keep hearing wonderful things but I haven't given Cornwell a try. Snipers absolutely terrify me, and I seem to run into them a lot in fiction. I think this book would have me on the edge of my seat!


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