It’s a Mystery: Book of the Dead, by Patricia Cornwell

3.0 out of 5 stars Super heroes and serial killers

The beautiful city of Charleston ought to be a great place to set up a new practice, but for Kay, nothing seems to be working out the way she’d hoped and planned. She’s received plenty of referrals, but family and staff have never been in such disarray. As Kay develops her phenomenal forensic skills, emotionally she’s frozen solid. But at least she’s functioning as brilliantly as ever, professionally. It’s a different story for her friends and relations. Marino, the ever faithful, chafes under her authority, and has evolved into a version of the Incredible Hulk. Talented, techno-wiz niece Lucy now behaves as a version of Wonder Woman. The love of Kay’s life, Wesley Benton, is as distant, physically and emotionally, as ever, in spite of the heirloom engagement ring he’s just presented to Kay. And her beloved personal assistant, Rose, seems ominously ill.

These personal disasters are given equal prominence with the horrific serial murder case that Kay and company are attacking, a complex, multi-tentacled situation that involves celebrities, the military, and long-buried family secrets. In Book/Dead, Cornwell made the choice to emphasize character over plot, and while her characters are indeed vivid, the plot suffers from fragmentation and reliance upon a set of implausible linkages. Still, the murders are compelling, and this is a story worth finishing. Loose ends left dangling in the final chapter will no doubt be picked up in the next Scarpetta entry.

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