Dr. Kay Scarpetta celebrates her 20th anniversary as a larger-than-life medical examiner by taking on a case of murder among little people.
Hours after his 4’1” girlfriend Terri Bridges observes New Year’s Eve by getting herself strangled, equally short Dr. Oscar Bane checks himself voluntarily into New York’s Bellevue Hospital and begs to unburden himself to Scarpetta. Jaime Berger, the combative sex-crimes prosecutor in charge of the case, instantly has Scarpetta flown in from Boston. Scarpetta swiftly gets Oscar to admit that his injuries are self-inflicted, but nothing he says helps to clear up the mysteries of why Terri, a graduate student in forensic pathology, was obsessed with Scarpetta, or why the fluid sample taken from her body included the DNA of a 78-year-old paraplegic woman from Palm Beach. Stung by a series of scurrilous attacks via an online site called Gotham Gotcha, Scarpetta manfully works the case, but it’s not easy to focus on the killer when there’s so much bad blood among the series regulars: Berger, Scarpetta, her profiler husband Benton Wesley, her niece Lucy Farinelli and Pete Marino, the hot-headed, besotted investigator who assaulted Scarpetta the last time they worked together (Book of the Dead, 2007). Despite dozens of promising clues and reams of forensic evidence, in fact, all roads in the case lead inexorably back to Scarpetta.
The title perfectly suits a challenging mystery that’s only a pendant to the endless soap opera revolving around a heroine who just can’t stop posing for Mt. Rushmore.