Chaos is the latest book from Patricia Cornwell featuring the forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta and the dishevelled detective Pete Marino. This is the twenty fourth novel in the series so if you’ve picked up the book in the first place you are likely to be a fan of our intrepid duo. If this is your first foray into the life of our medical examiner you will probably still enjoy the book but you would get so much more out of it knowing the back story and the complexity of the relationships with Pete, Lucy, Benton etc.
On a hot summers evening Scarpetta and Marino respond to a call about a dead cyclist in the park next to the Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge. It soon becomes clear that the young woman appears to have been hit by lightning on a night when there was no rain or storms reported. Soon it is only one thing in a chain of events that become linked to “Tail End Charlie” the obscure stalker who has been harassing Scarpetta in recent weeks.
For me the pacing of the book was a bit of a struggle. Chaos is a pretty applicable title for this one. Two thirds of the book is spent at the crime scene over a period of about twelve hours. Scarpetta is on the verge of collapse and at times the plot felt like it was going with her. The heat, the exhaustion and the atmosphere pull the reader down just as much as they do the lead character and it took me much longer than it should to read this. That said once the action moved out of the park and back to the lab it felt more like a classic Cornwell story and it was much more enjoyable.
With detailed autopsy scenes and scientific deductions this book isn’t for the faint hearted but fans of the series will be pretty happy with the latest instalment and the shocking revelation at the end.
Supplied by Net Galley and Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.
UK Publication date: Oct 20 2016. 400 pages