Friday, March 13, 2015

Review: Flesh and Blood

Flesh and Blood
Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After giving Cornwell's most recent Scarpetta novel a dismal one star, I must be thoroughly impressed with this one as I've rated it three stars. Not so, but I do believe it's at least three times more likeable than the awful Dust.

The novel begins with the most important thing, Scarpetta rhapsodizing over the wondrous Benton and cooking him breakfast. Cornwell spends so much time on this that I thought it was of vital interest to the plot. I can't remember exactly what it was despite having read it only yesterday, but I'm sure it was something Italian and complicated and made with ingredients that you and I only see in Ina Garten's kitchen. (I always imagine Scarpetta using exaggerated Italian in these passage, much like Giada de Laurentiis makes 'spaghetti' sound like she's scolding her dog).

Scarpetta finds seven bright and shiny pennies, all with the same date, lined up perfectly on her back wall. These pennies will slowly but surely connect themselves to the murder that cancels Kay's and Benton's Miami vacation.

It's a day of no coincidences. Seemingly random victims are connected to Kay, and it appears that the cyber crimes she and her inner circle have been experiencing for the past few months are connected as well. Who could be doing this, and what is the ultimate goal? Who could hate them all this much?

I'd like to say that Patricia Cornwell has brought back the Kay Scarpetta of old, but it's looking like that wish will never be granted. I remember when the crimes were the backbone of the story, and the quirky personalities, romances, and anger issues were details that dressed it up a bit and made it interesting. I long for those days.

There's an entire subplot devoted to Marino fighting with his partner. I can't see how it has any bearing on the story whatsoever, other than to demonstrate that Marino is an even bigger ass than he was in the last book. It's a plot development that just ends. After pretending to be of ultimate importance, this line is dropped and never mentioned again.

Marino has become a caricature of himself. In the beginning, his arrogance and inappropriateness bolstered Kay's character, making her seem the rational, sympathetic, and patient one. Now she just seems pathetically weak, even more so because she doesn't call anyone out for their secrets or poor judgment. Marino can't keep his mouth shut, Lucy and Benton can't open theirs, Kay is angry and frustrated but takes no steps to change anything. Par for the recent course.

I liked seeing Scarpetta back at the scene of the crime, analyzing, seeing through and beyond things that everyone else just glances at. I liked the twists and turns, as I didn't see this villain coming. I don't like the cluster of personality disorders this group has become.

Recommended only for those determined to finish the series, although I believe it's dead on its feet.

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