Book of the Dead
By Patricia Cornwell
Berkley Reprint Edition 2008
The nude, mutilated body of US tennis star, Drew Martin is found in Rome and forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta and her lover, former FBI agent, Benton Wesley are asked to consult. Contradictory evidence leaves both them and the Italian authorities stumped. Back in South Carolina where Scarpetta has started over with a private forensic pathology practice, the abused body of a young boy is found in a marsh. But the bodies don’t stop there. A wealthy woman is murdered in her beach home and clues begin linking the murders to a single killer with a possible connection to Scarpetta’s old nemesis, Dr. Marilyn Self.
Psycho psychiatrist, Dr. Self is out to destroy Scarpetta, nothing new there, but this time she uses Scarpetta’s colleague, Pete Marino, to get the job done. Marino’s long time delusions of a relationship between himself and Scarpetta are dashed when she returns from Rome sporting an engagement ring from Wesley. Although never encouraged by Scarpetta, Marino sees this engagement as a personal rejection and creates his own personal hell. Consumed by jealousy, drunk and enraged, he makes a brutal mistake that he may never recover from.
I wanted badly to be able to give Book of the Dead a five shoe rating, but unfortunately this, the fifteenth in the Scarpetta series, just didn’t do it for me. It didn’t have the emotional depth of the others. The characters seem deflated and although the killer was as deadly as any, he too seemed wanting. The mystery surrounding the murders was an interesting one. It managed to catch and hold my attention, as I tried to solve it and I was intrigued as well as saddened by Marino’s plummet to the dark side. I also enjoyed the differing points of view, although I realize many readers don’t. I felt the ending was rushed, as if the author suddenly realized the book was going on too long and had to wrap it up in a couple of pages. If you’ve read the other books in the Scarpetta series, then I recommend reading this one. If not, I suggest you start with the first one.