Another gritty, world-weary tale of mayhem by masterful mysterian Cornwell (Flesh and Blood, 2014, etc.).
Dr. Kay Scarpetta, fussy and exacting, doesn’t mind gore. “A select few of us,” she says, “come into this world not bothered by gruesomeness. In fact we’re drawn to it, fascinated, intrigued, and it’s a good thing.” Say what you will about her, Dr. Kay, forensic pathologist extraordinaire, doesn’t lead a dull life, even though much of her time is spent holding one-sided conversations with dead people. In the latest imposition on her good nature, a video lands on her phone while she’s combing through an icky scene, a young woman whose “once slender body [is] in the early stages of putrefaction, bloated with areas of her skin slipping.” That’s grody to the max, to be sure, but, there being no accidents and no coincidences in this strange world of ours, it stands to reason that somehow Dr. Kay’s latest examinee is bound up somehow with her niece, the subject of said video, a techie with a thick wallet and mad skills of a sort that Lisbeth Salander might envy. That road, with detours to the Bermuda Triangle (“you draw a line from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico to Bermuda”), is a bumpy one, and it passes right by the door of a mysterious, permanently peeved psycho. Or maybe not. Got all that? Well, let Dr. Kay summarize: “If Carrie knew Chanel and Chanel knew Lucy then that links the three of them. Chanel has been murdered. Carrie’s existence can’t be proven. That leaves Lucy hung out to dry by the FBI.” Stir phony IRS agents and wisecracking Boston cops and a few red herrings into the mix, and you’ve got the makings of a real puzzler. Suffice it to say that there’s enough familial psychodrama here to fuel a couple of dozen episodes of Dr. Phil and that the NRA won’t like its product-placement moment.
A trademark Cornwell mystery: terse and tangled, messy and body fluid–y, and altogether satisfying.