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Scarpetta    by Patricia Cornwell order for
by Patricia Cornwell
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Kay Scarpetta has taken an assignment in New York City, temporarily leaving behind her forensic pathology practice in Charleston, South Carolina. She is asked to examine a patient in Bellevue Hospital's psychiatric prison wing. The patient is a little person a dwarf who was found clutching his dead girl friend's body, claiming he was injured fighting off her attacker.

From there, the story goes into overdrive as the man's statements are checked out and the police become involved. Marina, a police officer who worked with Kay for many years, sexually attacked her ruining his relationship with both Kay and her niece Lucy. Trying to rehabilitate himself, he has managed to give up drinking and become a responsible member of society again. But the tension between them is palpable.

The murder of the little person seems to have kicked off several more deaths. The culprit becomes evident as the story moves along at a good clip. Scarpetta has acquired a husband since I last renewed my acquaintance with her. She has had to come to grips with Marina's attack, working out in her mind the reasons behind it. Though the psychology made sense, I'm not too sure I could handle it the way she does.

The main character in Scarpetta is not human at all, but rather the new electronic world in which we live. Kay's niece Lucy is a genius and owns her own computer business, which provides security for her customers. Still a neophyte where the computer is concerned, I tried to understand just what was going on when an extremely popular but scurrilous website that was targeting Scarpetta crashed. Lucy gets to work to find out the who and the why behind the nastiness pointed at Kay. She proceeds to move far beyond my expertise (I can turn on my computer!) into hacking (that word I understand) and other moves that left me in the dust.

If you're the least bit squeamish, this is not the book for you. I have to admit I enjoy the pathological incursions into the human body that follow Scarpetta on her daily rounds. I find them fascinating. If you are a computer whiz, you might enjoy pitting your wits against Lucy's. That said, I still enjoyed Scarpetta. Very much. It's always a pleasure to open one of Patricia Cornwell's novels.

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