Book of the Dead
Putnam, Oct 2007, $26.95, 416 pp.
Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her long time lover Benton Wesley are called to Rome to work with a team investigating the death of sixteen-year-old tennis star Drew Martin. Her body was left in a prominent location so that her mutilated corpse would be found quickly; huge chunks were cut out of her body and her eyes are gouged out and sand was placed in them before they were glued shut. The killer who will come to be known as the Sandman thinks he is doing the victim a favor by putting her out of her misery.
Before they fly home Benton gives Scarpetta a ring and then she returns home to South Carolina where she has opened up her own pathology practice Coastal Forensic Pathology Associates.
The Sandman is also in Charlotte where he is scoping out his next victim a woman who, like Drew, also appeared on Dr. Marilyn Self’s talk show. Dr. Self has volunteered to be a patient in Benton’s study coordinated at McLean University in Massachusetts because the Sandman is e-mailing her pictures of his handiwork. Kay is involved in the case and is also trying to deal with the fact that someone is trying to run her out of town, Marino’s angry moods, Lucy’s snooping into her personal life and a nosy neighbor who likes to make trouble for her.
Patricia Cornwell always writes crime thrillers that are fantastic but BOOK OF THE DEAD, though superb, is a bit of a departure for her. The author concentrates more on the relationship between Kay and those she cares about and their feelings; some revelations are revealed as well as a shocking act that nobody who knows those characters could ever see coming. The cast comes alive in a way they have never done before and readers will feel connected to them in a way they have never done before. Ms. Cornwell admits to being proud of BOOK OF THE DEAD and she should be.