book review: port mortuary

by sam on 01/27/2011

Port Mortuary (Kay Scarpetta Series #18)Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell

Book 18 in Cornwell’s continuing saga of Kay Scarpetta. I’ve mentioned this before, but I started reading this series when it was one of the few available in the english-language section of the nearby bookstore while I was living in Milan. Since then, I’ve felt compelled to continue, even though, in literary terms, these are the written equivalent of CSI. I’m not sure what to make of this one. First, Cornwell goes back to the narrative first person, where the entire story is told in Scarpetta’s voice. She had moved away from this device in recent books, giving more of an omniscient reader perspective. Going back to knowing only what Scarpetta knows certainly helped hold the suspense longer. Unfortunately, this was because Scarpetta herself was largely outside of the loop for much of the book. Most of the “suspense” was dependent on Scarpetta’s friends and associates deliberately keeping information from her until the last minute (sure, they all had seemingly legitimate reasons, but those reasons disappeared as soon as it was convenient for Scarpetta to actually find something out). In any event, Scarpetta is basically dropped into the situation after everything has happened, becomes an incredibly unpleasant person for a few hours due to the fact that she hasn’t slept, becomes unreasonably suspicious of everyone, including her husband, and then solves the crime after pretty much everyone else has gotten there as well.

Not loving this one.