Sunday, September 25, 2011

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell

Book Details
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell
Paperback, 448 Pages
2009, Pocket Star
ISBN: 1439148120
Series: Book 1 of Kay Scarpetta

Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the madman. But this investigation will test Kay like no other, because it's being sabotaged from within and someone wants her dead.

I'd heard great things about the Kay Scarpetta series and I wanted to get started reading it before I fell too far behind. The series already has 18 books released, with another on the way before the end of 2011. People were right. This series is very good. I wish I had started reading it sooner and not just because I was missing out.

Postmortem, the first book in the Kay Scarpetta series, was published in 1990. Well before the world was inundated with forensic TV shows and books. The book, a product of its time, goes into very heavy detail about certain scientific procedures that anyone who's seen a few episodes of CSI has a pretty good understanding of. The book was written before things like DNA evidence were commonplace, so obviously DNA databases are unheard of, placing the book in the awkward place where it has to be mentioned, but doesn't really speed the investigation along.

The murder mystery in Postmortem is interesting, but since the killer isn't a character we see and get to know, it feels like a letdown. The real entertaining part of this book was the mystery of who's trying to make Kay and her office look bad.

Postmortem drags in a lot of places because of densely packed information. Portions read like a forensic textbook rather than being written in layman's terms. Postmortem has all the signs of the beginning of a spectacular series, but the novel itself may fail to stand up to the test of time for the modern reader. A little jargon heavy, with some outdated information and methods, Postmortem manages to still deliver a couple of very good mysteries.


Patricia Cornwell's

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