Date Published24 April 2014
Price£ 8.99


by Patricia Cornwell

In bed with ‘flu, Dr Kay Scarpetta is called to the body of a young girl posed in the middle of an MIT sports field, her body covered in a dust that fluoresces in rainbow colours. Scarpetta is reminded of similar cases in Washington, but the FBI is determined to prove that they are unrelated.


After assisting with the aftermath of a school massacre in Connecticut, Dr Kay Scarpetta is in bed with the ‘flu. Her lead investigator, Pete Marino, has left her to return to his former role as a detective with the Cambridge, Massachusetts, Police Department, and now he is calling her at 4am about a body found on a playing field at the MIT campus. The body is carefully posed and is covered with a fluorescent dust that glows in rainbow colours under ultraviolet light.

Scarpetta is struck by the similarity to a series of murders in Washington, although there are also differences. Her husband, FBI profiler Benton Wesley, is away investigating them, but is being sidelined by a new boss, who is determined to prove that the killer in the Washington murders is a boy who has been missing for 17 years and that the new murder is unrelated. 

Then the team is called to a massacre at a financial company in nearby Concord. There are links between the company and the earlier murder victim, but can Kay and Benton identify the real killer and prove their case before the FBI takes over and commandeers all the evidence?

Written in the first person and present tense, the latest Scarpetta novel has an almost stream of consciousness feel. It takes a while to get going, as Kay drags herself from her sickbed into a wet night and all but the last couple of chapters take place over an 18-hour period. There are points when the first person narrative produces odd non-sequiturs as Kay’s thoughts stray to matters away from the murders, particularly to the Connecticut massacre or to Benton’s problems with his boss.

With a satisfyingly labyrinthine plot, this is vintage Cornwell. Dust is the 21st novel in the series, and there is no sign of Kay Scarpetta retiring in the near future. Long may she continue.

Reviewed 24 January 2015 by Sylvia Wilson