Patricia Cornwell’s medical examiner/detective Kay Scarpetta has been a fixture on the mystery/thriller scene for several years, but I’ve never read one of her books. (I know! I’m a failure as a mystery fan.) It might seem strange to start the series with Red Mist, the 19th book, but I decided to give the audio a try.
Audible summary: Determined to find out what happened to her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding, murdered six months earlier, Kay Scarpetta travels to the Georgia Prison for Women, where an inmate has information not only on Fielding, but also on a string of grisly killings. The murder of an Atlanta family years ago, a young woman on death row, and the inexplicable deaths of homeless people as far away as California seem unrelated.
But Scarpetta discovers connections that compel her to conclude that what she thought ended with Fielding's death and an attempt on her own life is only the beginning of something far more destructive: a terrifying terrain of conspiracy and potential terrorism on an international scale. And she is the only one who can stop it.
My thoughts: I was able to get a good feel for Kay Scarpetta and her world. I had no problem figuring out who was who and what was what, so I don't think new readers would have any trouble picking up the threads of Scarpetta's life and work.
The mystery was kind of all over the place – part psychological thriller, part cold crime case, part personal vendetta, part potential mass murder – and the book as a whole felt disjointed. Also, the plot wrapped up really quickly, and I was blind-sided by how fast things came to a conclusion. I was expecting a bit more tension and suspense there, but it happened so quickly that it was over before I knew what was going on.
Scarpetta isn't particularly likable – at one point she even says, "What an annoying person I must be." I concur. However, I understand that's part of her character, and she isn't supposed to be warm and friendly and charismatic. I also saw almost zero chemistry between her and her husband, but perhaps if I'd read the previous books I'd understand their relationship more.
Kate Burton’s narration is very good, and she matches Scarpetta’s voice to her uptight attitude. Her characters speak with a variety of accents – Southern, New York, Australian – and she manages them well. Additionally, she keeps the suspense going, and well-timed music gives the production a nice edge.
I'd be happy to read more Scarpetta - in fact, I'd really like to see where she started - but as a mystery I'd say this one is so-so
Publisher (audio): Penguin Audio
Publication Date: December 6, 2011
Length: 12 hours, 56 minutesSensuality: Zero
I received this audiobook from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.