A Manhattan waitress’s murder kicks off yet another round of forensic-driven navel gazing for Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her friends and enemies.
Toni Darien’s mother insists her daughter never would have gone jogging in Central Park on a rainy night. Nonetheless, Toni’s corpse is found just inside 110th Street, raped, bashed to death, then strangled. Despite the best efforts of Scarpetta to keep the open case off The Crispin Report, the program she frequents as CNN’s senior forensic analyst, a relentless barrage of leading questions from Carley Crispin links the case on live TV to the disappearance of sexy financial titan Hannah Starr. When a furious Scarpetta demands she be released from her TV contract, Carley’s producer offers her her own show instead. But there’s no time to waste on such frivolity when Hannah’s client Hap Judd, actor and pervert, needs to be questioned about a case of necrophilia; his self-avowed aunt, demented Dodie Hodge, is stalking Scarpetta’s husband, former FBI profiler Benton Wesley; and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Warner Agee, Wesley’s old nemesis, is clearly getting inside information about the investigation and passing it on to Carley. Could all these outrages possibly be connected? Only if they’re being perpetrated at the bidding of the archfiend Cornwell brings back in lieu of developing the regulars, who seem condemned to keep recycling the same dialogue in every installment, or resolving the initially promising complications of the mystery.
A helpful appendix lists the seven previous novels (Scarpetta, 2008, etc.) related to this one. Readers who don’t know them will be baffled; readers who do will be exasperated.