Chaos by Patricia Cornwell

I've recently jumped back into Patricia Cornwell's famed Kay Scarpetta series. My love/hate relationship with the main character caused me to shelf the series for some time, but I couldn't stay away for long. For my money, no one writes with the thrilling reality that Cornwell does. Given my enjoyment of the past couple novels, I came into this latest one with high expectations.

This 24th installment begins with Scarpetta and her FBI agent husband Benton attempting to have dinner at the exclusive Harvard University club. Scarpetta is preparing to give a lecture to some students there. All too often, the couple's meals are interrupted by their work, and this occasion is no different. They both receive calls about a mysterious death on the campus. A female biker has been found dead of an apparent lightning strike. Immediately, something seems off. How could a woman be killed by lightning on such a clear night?

The situation is compounded by a string of mysterious texts from a figure called Tailend Charlie. Scarpetta receives these odd poems that contain personal details that only someone close to her would know. As the details of these messages begin to coincide with her ongoing investigation, Scarpetta's paranoia reaches a peak. All evidence has her believing that the nefarious serial-killer Carie Grethen, who has been at large for the last couple of novels, is somehow connected to the murder.

Like the previous novel, Depraved Heart, Chaos takes place over a short period of time and focuses mostly on Scarpetta's inner dialogue. In the words of Elvis Presley, "A little less conversation, a little more action" could have gone a long way in helping the pace of most of the early portions of this book. Scarpetta's inward paranoia was not enough to propel the beginning of the story. Fortunately, the action increased as the investigation progressed. It was great to see Scarpetta be a little more hands on with examining the body and crime scene. This is what captured my imagination in the early books, and it was nice to see Cornwell return to these elements. The narrative arc that began in Flesh and Blood comes to a satisfying, but slightly too convenient, conclusion in this story. With the promising progression of the last three novels, I'm excited to see how Cornwell evolves her character next.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.

(2017, 22)

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4 Responses to “Chaos by Patricia Cornwell”

  1. I don't think I have tried this author Ethan, although I love the genre. I am glad that the action did pick up. Wonderful review!

    1. I'd definitely recommend the earlier books in the series. Kay Scarpetta is really one of the first notable female crime solvers.

  2. Even though you've had a very love hate relationship with the main character in previous installments, it sounds like with each one you are appreciating her more and more! I am glad you were able to enjoy this one and seeing the plot unfurl.

    1. I'm glad I decided to pick this series up again!


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