Saturday, November 25, 2023

Unnatural Death

Unnatural Death by Patricia Cornwell
11/28/23; 432 pages
Grand Central Publishing
Kay Scarpetta #27

Unnatural Death by Patricia Cornwell is a highly recommended crime fiction for fans of chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta. This is the twenty-seventh novel in the long running series.

Dr. Scarpetta is flown out to wilderness of Buckingham Run in northern Virginia by her niece, Secret Service agent Lucy Farinelli. Agents are already on the ground with her longtime associate Pete Marino. Scarpetta is there to retrieve the mauled remains of two bodies, Huck and Brittany Manson, owners of an outdoor gear store. The retrieval of both bodies is involved, one body in a mine shaft and another in the lake. The two are suspected of spying or links to terrorism so the retrieval and autopsies are top secret. Their trail cameras, which the Secret Service hacked, did not show the assailant. Even weirder is the large foot print Marino found in the cave which he believes is that of Bigfoot. He took a cast of it and has made arrangements to have it examined.

Having read and enjoyed almost all of her early books, I took a long hiatus mid-way through this series after several disappointing books. The pace does start out a bit slow as recovering the bodies and the autopsy take up the bulk of the narrative but does pick up speed. Appreciation of Cornwell's writing style will help. There is a lot of technical, step-by-step medical and procedural details as well as other details (food, technical devices, programming, vehicles, as a few examples) shared as the plot unfolds. Expect political views.

Suspension of disbelief is required with the return of an old nemesis. The major plot thread does reach a conclusion, but there are several other unresolved storylines. This one is for fans of the series who know all the characters, their backstories, and want to know what's happening now. It wasn't surprising (the major twist will easily be predicted by some readers) but it is entertaining and comfortable to see old characters. 3.5 rounded up

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Grand Central via NetGalley.

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