Patricia Cornwell, the acclaimed American crime writer whose books have sold over 100 million copies, has a new Dr. Kay Scarpetta novel and Sharon Long is here to tell us more.
Chaos is book 24 in Cornwell’s long-running series featuring Cambridge medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta. It released in hardcover on November 15th by William Morrow.
As the book opens, Dr. Scarpetta is walking through Harvard Yard on an unseasonably hot, humid September evening to meet her husband, Benton, for dinner. She receives a strange call from detective, Pete Marino, who tells her that a 911 call was just received and it related to her. When she sees Benton outside the restaurant, they both notice a young blonde woman on a bicycle. This woman recognizes Scarpetta from earlier in the day and they exchange pleasantries. Inside the restaurant, she finds out that Benton already knows about the 911 call and he plays the recording for her. They order and are settling down for a nice quiet dinner when Scarpetta gets called to the scene of a suspicious death of a young woman near the Charles River.
At the crime scene, Dr. Scarpetta takes one look at the victim and has the sinking feeling she is the young woman she spoke with less than an hour ago. After a preliminary investigation, it appears the victim was electrocuted, but there was no lighting or storm that could have caused it.
During the investigation into the girl’s death, they are some unverifiable calls from people claiming to be with Interpol. We also find out that Scarpetta has been receiving calls from a stalker, Tailend Charlie, whose voice sounds like her dead father. The caller mentions nicknames from Scarpetta’s past that no one could know. Dr. Scarpetta not only has to solve the young woman’s murder but try and figure out the identify of Tailend Charlie.
I have read most the books in this series and watched Dr. Scarpetta grow and mature over the last 25 years. I have seen her go through an affair, get married, and survive perilous situations. Patricia Cornwell has created characters with real emotions and life experiences, and she provides them with more than enough danger to make things interesting. Dr. Scarpetta has become a good friend, one you might not see often but when you do, it is comfortable and familiar. Throughout the series, the reader learns more about her family; Benton, her FBI profiler husband; Marino, the partner who always stirs things up; and Lucy, her niece/de facto daughter. Over the years, not only have the characters changed but so has forensic science. New technologies have changed the way law enforcement solves murders and it has been extremely interesting to follow the series as Cornwell incorporates these changing times.
This book was provided by the publisher. This is a fair and independent review.