Trace by Patricia Cornwell Book Review

Trace by Patricia Cornwell book reviewTrace

Patricia Cornwell

Mystery/Thriller

ISBN-13: 978-0425250310

2004

544 pages

About the Book:

from Amazon.com:

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, now freelancing from south Florida, returns to the city that turned its back on her five years ago. Richmond, Virginia’s recently appointed chief medical examiner claims that he needs Scarpetta’s help to solve a perplexing crime. When she arrives, however, Scarpetta finds that nothing is as she expected: her former lab is in the final stages of demolition; the inept chief isn’t the one who requested her after all; her old assistant chief has developed personal problems that he won’t reveal; and a glamorous FBI agent, whom Scarpetta dislikes instantly, meddles with the case.

Deprived of assistance from colleagues Benton and Lucy, who are embroiled in what first appears to be an unrelated attempted rape by a stalker, Scarpetta is faced with investigating the death of a fourteen-year-old girl, working with the smallest pieces of evidence—traces that only the most thorough hunters can identify. She must follow the twisting leads and track the strange details in order to make the dead speak—and to reveal the sad truth that may be more than even she can bear…

My Review:

To date, I have read 17 of Patricia Cornwell’s novels, the majority of which all had the same heroine: Dr. Kay Scarpetta.  So reading Trace (A Scarpetta Novel) was much like going home.  It was (for me) a warm, cozy comforting read.

But be forewarned; if you haven’t read Cornwell’s Scarpetta novels before, these are not warm, cozy books.  Kay Scarpetta is passionate about her family, her friends, her food and her job.  She can also come across as cold-hearted to those who don’t know her well.  She is probably my all-time favorite female character.

One of my favorite parts of Scarpetta novels, which was missing from Trace, is the cooking scenes.  Cornwell describes the food in such loving and intimate detail that it borders on food porn.  Her vivid narratives of the sights, smells and tastes; of prepping and cooking, border on food porn.

Trace focuses on following the trace evidence.  I did not make the connection to the actual killer until it was pointed out to me in the book.  But once I read the connection, it all made sense.  Just as it should.

I don’t want to give too much away (although if you are a Scarpetta fan, you are probably way ahead of me since this book was published back in 2004).  Suffice it to say that if you love mysteries and strong, semi-dysfunctional female characters, you will love this book!!

I give Trace 4 1/2 stars!!!

I did not receive any compensation in exchange for my review.  I purchased this book with my own money and wanted to share with my readers.

About the Author:

Patricia Cornwell was born on June 9, 1956, in Miami, Florida, and grew up in Montreat, North Carolina.

Following graduation from Davidson College in 1979, she began working at the Charlotte Observer, rapidly advancing from listing television programs to writing feature articles to covering the police beat. She won an investigative reporting award from the North Carolina Press Association for a series of articles on prostitution and crime in downtown Charlotte.

Her award-winning biography of Ruth Bell Graham, A Time for Remembering, was published in 1983. From 1984 to 1990, she worked as a technical writer and a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia.

Cornwell’s first crime novel, Postmortem, was published by Scribner’s in 1990. Initially rejected by seven major publishing houses, it became the first novel to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity Awards as well as the French Prix du Roman d’Aventure in a single year. In Postmortem, Cornwell introduced Dr. Kay Scarpetta as the intrepid Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 1999, Dr. Scarpetta herself won the Sherlock Award for best detective created by an American author.

Following the success of her first novel, Cornwell has written a series of bestsellers featuring Kay Scarpetta, her detective sidekick Pete Marino and her brilliant and unpredictable niece, Lucy Farinelli, including: Body of Evidence (1991); All That Remains (1992); Cruel and Unusual (1993), which won Britain’s prestigious Gold Dagger Award for the year’s best crime novel; The Body Farm (1994); From Potter’s Field (1995); Cause of Death (1996); Unnatural Exposure (1997); Point of Origin (1998); Black Notice (1999); The Last Precinct (2000); Blow Fly (2003); Trace (2004); Predator (2005); Book of the Dead (2007), which won the 2008 Galaxy British Book Awards’ Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year, making Cornwell the first American ever to win this award; Scarpetta (2008); The Scarpetta Factor (2009); and Port Mortuary (2010). In 2011 Cornwell was awarded the Medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, one of France’s most prestigious awards to honor those who have distinguished themselves in the domains of art or literature, or by their contribution to the development of culture in France and throughout the world.

In addition to the Scarpetta novels, she has written three best-selling books featuring Andy Brazil: Hornet’s Nest (1996), Southern Cross (1998) and Isle of Dogs (2001); two cook books: Scarpetta’s Winter Table (1998) and Food to Die For (2001); and a children’s book: Life’s Little Fable (1999). In 1997, Cornwell updated A Time for Remembering, which was reissued as Ruth, A Portrait: The Story of Ruth Bell Graham. Intrigued by Scotland Yard’s John Grieve’s observation that no one had ever tried to use modern forensic evidence to solve the murders committed by Jack the Ripper, Cornwell began her own investigation of the serial killer’s crimes. In Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper–Case Closed (2002), she narrates her discovery of compelling evidence to indict the famous artist Walter Sickert as the Ripper.

In January 2006, the New York Times Magazine began a 15-week serialization of At Risk, featuring Massachusetts State Police investigator Win Garano and his boss, district attorney Monique Lamont. Its sequel, The Front, was serialized in the London Times in the spring of 2008. Both novellas were subsequently published as books and promptly optioned for adaptation by Lifetime Television Network, starring Daniel Sunjata and Andie MacDowell. The films made their debut in April 2010.

In April 2009, Fox acquired the film rights to the Scarpetta novels, featuring Angelina Jolie as Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Cornwell herself wrote and co-produced the movie ATF for ABC.

Often interviewed on national television as a forensic consultant, Cornwell is a founder of the Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine, a founding member of the National Forensic Academy, a member of the Advisory Board for the Forensic Sciences Training Program at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, NYC, and a member of the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital’s National Council, where she is an advocate for psychiatric research. She is also well known for her philanthropic contributions to animal rescue and criminal justice, as well as endowing college scholarships and promoting the cause of literacy on the national scene. Some of her projects include the establishment of an ICU at Cornell’s Animal Hospital, the archaeological excavation of Jamestown and the scientific study of the Confederacy’s submarine H.L. Hunley. Most recently, she donated a million dollars to Harvard’s Fogg Museum to establish a chair in inorganic science.

Cornwell’s books have been translated into 36 languages across more than 50 countries, and she is regarded as one of the major international best-selling authors. Her novels are praised for their meticulous research and an insistence on accuracy in every detail, especially in forensic medicine and police procedures. She is so committed to verisimilitude that, among other accomplishments, she became a helicopter pilot and a certified scuba diver, and qualified for a motorcycle license because she was writing about characters who were doing these things. “It is important to me to live in the world I write about,” she often says. “If I want a character to do or know something, I want to do or know the same thing.”

Visit the author’s website at: www.patriciacornwell.com

 

2 Replies to “Trace by Patricia Cornwell Book Review”

  1. I’ve read a few Patricia Cornwell books, and enjoyed them a lot. This sounds like it would be no exception to that rule. She is a great author who keeps her readers well entertained. Thank you for this detailed review. You definitely peaked my interest in reading this book.

    I’m glad we’re a part of the Biannual Blog-A-Thon event in January. We share the love of doing book reviews together. I look forward to seeing what the challenges teach us this year. Thank you so much for signing up for it.

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