Date Published27 July 2017
Price£ 7.99


by Patricia Cornwell

Kay Scarpetta is called to investigate the death of a young woman during an intolerable heatwave. The data appears to be inexplicable and yet she feels that it may have consequences beyond what is apparent.


Kay Scarpetta, director of the Cambridge Forensic Centre, Massachusetts, is called to investigate the death of an unknown woman, found in a local park. She believes that she may have encountered the young woman twice before on the same day, which makes her uneasy.

The weather is intolerable. The city is suffering from a heatwave which is causing major problems as well as making working conditions intolerable. Interactions between Kay and her FBI husband, her police associate and her niece fill a large amount of the plot as the investigation unfolds.

The book is written as if in real time. This means that its pace is ponderous: thoughts are explored and repeated. The weather plays as big a part as any other character. The setting up of the isolation tent for the investigation takes as much attention as the plot concerning the deaths. Kay’s concerns about her sister, her niece, her husband and herself cover many pages. If you last until the end, the plot unfolds and is explained in the last few chapters and is not worth the wait.

This is the first of the Patricia Cornwell Kay Scarpetta books that I have read. Unfortunately, it does not inspire me to read another. It took significant determination for me to stick with the book. I was not sure if this was because I was unfamiliar with the characters and hence did not feel about them as others may, which made the consideration of their every thought to have less relevance to me. It is hard to imagine that even avid fans will find the book to be anything other than slow and lacking pace.

Virginia Woolf tackled stream of consciousness writing very effectively in To The Lighthouse.  Patricia Cornwell has been very much less successful in this book. I think it is probably one to leave for the absolutely dedicated fans of the series.

Reviewed 24 June 2017 by John Barnbrook