By Patricia Cornwell
Thorndike Press, Large Print Edition (2008) 673 pages.
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - January 11, 2010
Kay Scarpetta is now married to the ex-FBI forensic psychologist Benton Wesley. When they were unmarried, the attraction between the two was electric. Now, Benton has lost sexual interest in Kay and can't understand why or talk to Kay about it.
Pete Marino, a police officer and Kay's devoted friend for many years, attacked her in an apparent attempted rape while drunk. He was agitated because of Kay's marriage to Benton. Kay keeps the episode secret.
Marino enters a detox facility and then asks Benton to help him find a new job, away from Kay and South Carolina, and Benton got him a job in New York. The two hoped that Marino would not see Kay again. Benton tells Kay nothing about his involvement with Marino. But then Kay and Benton move to New York to work there.
Marino works for the New York prosecutor Jamie Berger. He becomes involved in the murder case of a very short woman with a compulsive need for cleanliness.
Cornwell has a character describe her. "She didn't cut her hair short, but she keeps it very clean. If she went somewhere, the minute she got back inside, she'd take a shower and wash her hair. Never a bath. Because you're sitting in dirty water. That's what she says, constantly. She uses a towel once, and then it went into the wash. I know it's not normal…. (We have sex and) afterwards, wash each other's hair, and usually have sex again in the shower. She likes having sex in the shower . She calls it clean sex."
The suspected murderer, who made these comments, is her fiancée Oscar Bane another very short person with his own unusual psychological idiosyncrasies. Bane insists that Kay examine him and prosecutor Jamie Berger asks Kay to comply with his request and help her with the bizarre murder. Now Kay will be seeing Marino again.
Why did Oscar Bane want Kay to examine him? He claims that he is being stalked by his fiancée's killer. Is he insane? How will Kay's examination prove that Bane is innocent? He says that he trusts Kay, but does not say why. Did the two of them meet before? Why doesn't Kay remember the meeting? Is Bane fixated on Kay? Who killed Oscar Bane's fiancée? Why was she killed?
The internet gossip column Gotham Gotcha publishes the story of Marino's attempted rape and other salacious reports about Kay. Thousands of people read the column. Kay had kept the episode secret. How did the information get out?
The brilliant computer specialist, Lucy Farinelli, Kay's devoted niece, is incensed at Gotham Gotcha. Lucy seeks revenge. How will she do it? Berger also asks Lucy to help her solve the murder case. How will Lucy deal with Marino?
Patricia Cornwell is an excellent entertaining and skilled writer and her tale about Scarpetta, its characterizations, intricacies, twists and turns, is a delight.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.