October 19, 2004

Blow Fly, by Patricia Cornwell

This is the kind of book you read while wolfing down a pound of Oreos followed by a pint of Haagen-Daz ice cream. It's trash, pure and simple.

Cornwell writes a series of action thrillers based on Kay Scarpetta, a forensic expert who at one time was the head of Virginia's state coroners office. She is highly gifted at her profession, incredibly intelligent and personally attractive. Her sidekick, a detective named Marino, is also highly gifted at his profession but is blue collar in his outlook, gross personally and lacks the finesse that distinguishes Scarpetta. A perfect foil. She also has an incredibly smart niece, Lucy, who at one time worked for the CIA as a computer expert, flies helicopters and is now running a private investigation agency. Kay had a lover, a profiler for the FBI named Wesley Benton, but he was killed off in a gruesome scene some books back, leaving Kay heartbroken and emotionally drained. She has left the coroner's office after a political fiasco and is now running her own private forensic consulting agency while trying to put her life back together in the wake of her lover's death.

And one of the criminals she's caught in the past, a psychopath with some weird physical anomaly that makes him have body hair all over and has caused facial deformities giving him the name Wolfman, is sitting on death row. He's the unloved son in a worldwide mafia type organization based in France and he's written Scarpetta offering to come clean on his family if she will visit him in prison, and administer the drugs at his death sentence.

That's the set up of the book. The action goes further, bringing (spoiler here if you plan on reading it) Wesley back from the dead, having Lucy commit a cold blooded murder described in technicolor detail and a whole series of grisly murders that Kay has to solve fast to save the next victim, who just might be herself.

As I said, trash pure and simple. And I am somewhat abashedly waiting for the next one to come out in paperback.

Posted by Deb English at October 19, 2004 06:33 PM

Mark D. said:

I tried Cornwell/Scarpetta early on, and found nothing to induce me to read further, not even in the Oreos/HD line. But this reference to "Wesley back from the dead" makes me wonder - is she giving a subtle reference to Andrew Vachss' Burke novels?

If you don't know them (much less this reference, which is arcane even within that series) all I can do is commend them strongly. Start with Blue Belle, not the first but core to the series and showing Burke's style and heart clearly. Burke and his family are powerful characters, with strong moral centers - though not, perhaps, by the world's standards . And Wesley, in his elliptical and invariably lethal appearances is... well, you have to read them I guess. It's an interesting name to give a central character, at the very least.

Deb said:

Hmmm....I'll have to give them a try. In fact, since my internet has been totally down for the last three days, I came to the library to check up on things, so I can go look on the shelves when I am done here!

Mark D. said:

Do, by all means! But perhaps I should have said more plainly - they are R to X rated, very dark indeed. AV writes from a place of burning anger against child abusers of all kinds, and in service to that doesn't moderate either his language or his character's actions/reactions. Just so you know..... I find them very moving, though.