The Bone Bed
by Patricia Cornwell
5 stars - can't get enough of the Kay Scarpetta series
I have to give this 5 stars because this is the 20th Kay Scarpetta book and I have read every one. This, despite the fact that I actually have mixed feelings about the books.
Here's the thing. I don't like any of the characters. Not at all. While they are all very real and believable, they just aren't people I would ever want to meet. The main character, Kay Scarpetta, is a forensic scientist who is now Chief Medical Examiner in Boston (or maybe Cambridge since her office is apparently at MIT - huh?). She's selfish, cold, obsessed with her work, and frequently shows questionable judgement when it comes to her personal relationships.
Every new book by Ms. Cornwell is the same for me. First hundred pages or so, I am thinking that I won't finish because I just don't like the characters. Then she grabs me and I can't stop until I get to the end (which usually involves a relatively slow build up to a frenetic conclusion).
What keeps me coming back? The mysteries themselves. Ms. Cornwell started her professional life as a forensic scientist (but I am assuming that now she is a full time author) and so she knows of what she speaks. The mysteries all involve lots of really cool, nerdy details about how forensic investigations are carried out. How bodies decay in different circumstances, how fibers are used as trace evidence, how autopsies are conducted, the works. Come on, it is just too cool for school!
Plus not every adventure in forensic medicine is directly involved with the main mystery, but it's up to the reader to suss out what is important and what isn't.
This particular novel starts out with Dr. Scarpetta receiving a blurry video and photograph of a human ear (no longer attached to the skull) via email. What the heck? Almost simultaneously, a body is discovered in a fishing net attached to a giant sea tortoise. But the body appears to have been frozen for some time before being submerged and is it somehow connected the to the missing person, presumed dead, whose husband is now on trial for hiring a hit man to kill her. Got it? Wow!
In between, some personal intrigue between the regular players in the lab as well as the odd assortment of FBI agents.
If I were just reading this book on its own, I would have given it four stars, but since I appear to be a hard core devotee of the series, it gets five. Haven't read any of these books? Start at the beginning with Postmortem (1990).