Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Literally the Best Reviews: Chaos

Chaos Patricia Cornwell
William Morrow
400 Pages

There are certain authors who, whenever they have new books, I absolutely have to read. When I find a writer I like, I am unequivocally loyal to their work. Such is the case with today’s author, Patricia Cornwell. All the way back to 1990’s Postmortem, I’ve read all 24 Kay Scarpetta books. That first one was loaned to me by Jack Ioannone. Once I started reading it, I enjoyed the series. Over 25 years later, I still read Cornwell’s books, mostly has a lighter (in tome, not subject) flair to my regular reading. So once I spotted this on the library shelves, I grabbed it to bring it home.

Doctor Kay Scarpetta has been our medical examiner for twenty-seven years. We’ve been through her ups and downs, her arch nemeses, a marriage, and her crazy family. Just when you think she’s defeated Temple Gault or Carrie Grethen, they rear their ugly heads again and again. With her newest Scarpetta thriller, Chaos, revisits the medical examiner’s full life.

Of course, there’s a dead body. The solving of that mystery is the main reason that I keep coming back to the world of Dr. Scarpetta. Getting to the bottom of the mysterious death will keep even the most casual readers engaged. Cornwell has been very good at drawing the reader into the action.

The death of a mysterious woman on the bike path near her lab plays second fiddle to cyber-stalking and bullying being directed towards Scarpetta. Has Carrie returned to harass her some more? Or her family? Her friends? Who is her secret stalker?

Every Scarpetta book that I’ve read has been great. I have eagerly awaited each consecutive book, just like I couldn’t wait to read Chaos. I dove in as soon as I got the book to the safety of the Bacon compound. However, I kind of got lost with this novel.

This installment was not like any of the other books in the series. The plot meandered all over the place. Nearly from the beginning, there was a body that needed to be contended with. However, it took well over half the book to get to it. The plot dragged as Scarpetta spent more time in her own head rather than work the case or face the mystery man that seemingly keeps hounding her and threatening her friends.

In the earlier books, each new piece of evidence brings a flurry of action and further unveiling of the mystery. This time, the reader was lost in the minutiae of Scarpetta’s indecision and fretting. To this reader, this seems like the beginning of the end for our hero. It appears that Scarpetta’s time as the main character of this series is coming to a close. In my estimation, the job and her history is finally getting to her.

If this is the case, I foresee another book that is an even deeper retrospective of Scarpetta’s career and the introduction of a new medical examiner to take her place. At the same time, Scarpetta will not fade away completely. I see her continuing to make cameo appearances in other books. She would be the mentor for a whole new series.

Again, this is all supposition on my part. As an avid reader of this series, this book was so much different than the others in both scope and content, that I had to search through my feelings for a positive outcome.

This oddly disjointed novel lives up to its name, Chaos, in more ways than I think most people believe. The chaos of the events in Scarpetta’s life is combined with the chaotic, meandering plot devised by Patricia Cornwell. It is not a terrible book. As a stand alone novel, it would be a very good book. Taken as part of the greater whole, this latest book in the series left a lot to be desired for this reader.

Patricia Cornwell is a fantastic writer. The Kay Scarpetta series is great. This is only one book out of two dozen. Don’t let this one book determine whether you read this series or not. The whole series is fast-paced, exciting, and intelligent. It has been a lot of fun to read. Don’t take my word for it. Read it and have a great reading experience.

Craig Bacon occasionally gets weird messages from crazy people. By crazy people, he generally means George and Howie. Sometimes you just don’t want to know.