Search This Blog

Friday, 5 June 2015

FFB - Post Mortem

In 1994, when I read this first outing (1990) of Chief Medical Examiner of Richmond, Virginia, Dr Kay Scarpetta, I couldn’t have known that there would be 23 books in the series (and still counting), the latest being Depraved Heart (2015).

Scarpetta is also a lawyer and a consultant for the FBI. The books are littered with all sorts of fascinating behind the scenes forensic activity, anticipating the successful TV series C.S.I. by ten years. So if you’re into such things as analyzing photos, evidence samples, and the study of the time of death, you’ll enjoy a lot of the detail that goes into the development of Scarpetta’s investigations. As the series progresses, Scarpetta builds up a number of intriguing relationships: her niece Lucy, an FBI intern , Benton Wesley a FBI colleague and romantic interest, and Pete Marino a detective, among others.

Post Mortem concerns a serial killer who is on the loose, three women having been brutalised and strangled in their bedrooms, the deaths particularly gruesome. While Detective Marino comes across as a bit of a slob, there grows between him and Scarpetta a mutual respect as they begin to hunt down the killer. The wealth of detail about the pathologist’s research is never heavy-handed, the supplemental characters are interesting, and Scarpetta’s humanity well matches Marino’s cynicism. To compound matters, she has to combat male chauvinism and, worse, somebody has broken into her office computer system and she is being blamed for leaks to the press!

Suspenseful and well written. By now of course Cornwell is a legend among crime writers. This is where it all began.

PS – I never knew she was a descendant of abolitionist and writer Harriet Beecher Stowe (source: Wikipedia).

No comments: