Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell
I always appear to be a bit obsessed with the weather on the blog at the moment. I believe it becomes of being British. Today's review swerves away from those lovely summery reads that I have been talking about (think of those blue and yellow posters) and has a more wintery feel. In fact it was almost a contender for my #12booksofChristmas it is so snowy.
And so, now that the weather has turned to thunderstorms and lightning than I'm bringing you a book perfect to curl up with. I'm not going to lie, it is a bit gruesome but is a cracking and fascinating thriller.
Someone is stalking Beryl Madison. Someone who spies on her and makes threatening, obscene phone calls. Terrified, she flees to Key West - but eventually she must return to her Richmond Home. The very night she arrives, Beryl inexplicably invites her killer in....
Thus begins for Dr Kay Scarpetta, the investigation of a crime that is as convoluted as it is bizarre. Adding to the intrigue is Beryl's enigmatic relationship with a prize-winning author and the disappearance of her own manuscript.
As Scarpetta retraces Beryl's footsteps, an investigation that begins in the laboratory with microscopes and lasers leads her deep into a nightmare that soon becomes her own.
Originally published in 1991, I first discovered Patricia Cornwell in my 20's and working as a bookseller. All I can say is that I must have been hard as nails. Now in my 40's, these novels terrify me, but dang are they good!
The character of Dr Kay Scarpetta was quite a trailblazer for forensic crime novels. She is a Medical Examiner who attends crime scenes, performs autopsies and testified in court. This paved the way for authors such as Kathy Reichs, Linda Fairstein and Tess Gerritsen to name but a few. Body of Evidence is the 2nd in the Scarpetta series. Whilst I think you get more if you were to read these in order, this is absolutely fine to read as a standalone.
Scarpetta is an interesting lead, brilliant at what she does but icy and aloof, at times, not likeable. Strong and complicated.
The crime itself is terrifying - a reclusive writer is being stalked and flees in terror to Key West. On the night of her return, she lets her stalker into the house willingly. Why? And who is this stalker?
The book feels claustrophobic, bleak, it's set in a wintry Richmond filled with dark December nights, bitter cold. A place where too many cigarettes are smoked, and it is always dark. Cornwell does a brilliant job in ramping up the tension and building the atmosphere.
This is an excellent follow-up to the marvellous Postmortem cementing the character of Dr Kay Scarpetta as crime-fiction royalty.