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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scarpetta Collection Volume II: All That Remains and Cruel & Unusual by Patricia Cornwell

This volume comprises books three and four of the Scarpetta series. I'll review both books separately in this review.

All That Remains picks up a good bit after the ending of the last book, and we're kind of slowly caught up on what has transpired since the last book. I don't really like it when authors do that.

Here is the blurb for All that Remains:

A serial killer is loose in Richmond, specializing in attractive young couples whose bodies are inevitably found in the woods months later -- minus their shoes and socks. After months of exposure to all the elements, all that remains of this killer's victims has in every case left Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta unable even to determine an exact cause of death. Frustrated that her high-tech forensic skills have apparently proved useless, Kay enlists the help of and ace crime reporter and a psychic whose powers have been vouched for by the FBI.

Racing against time, Kay finds she must draw upon her own personal resources to track down a murderer skilled at eliminating every clue. All that remains to her now is her courage and intuition and the will to stop a killer before he can strike again.

I will give All that Remains an 8 of 10. The plot was good, dialogue was good, and the pacing was mostly okay. There were too many parts of it that were not an enjoyable read, though. Stories need conflict, but some authors put too much conflict into a story.

Cruel and Unusual opens with a poem written by a man on death row. And once again, as the story progresses we learn that a lot has happened in Kay Scarpetta's life since we last saw her. Here is the blurb for book number four, Cruel and Unusual:

When convicted killer Ronnie Joe Waddell is executed in Virginia's electric chair, he becomes what should be a routine postmortem case for Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta. But after Waddell's execution, the murders continue, as everyone connected to him begins to die -- including a member of Scarpetta's staff.

Then, when crucial records disappear from her files, Scarpetta comes underfire for incompetence. Caught in a web of political intrigue, betrayed by those she trusted, Scarpetta must fight to free herself from murderous insinuations -- and threats to her own life.

To save her career, Scarpetta soon finds herself retracing Waddell's bloody footprints, following a trail that might lead to long-hidden secrets deep within the state government. Either the truth will set her free -- or unleash upon her a punishment both cruel and unusual.

I go back and forth on what to rate this book. The plot could get a 10 of 10, but some of the personal stuff is down at a 7. And it really bothers me that important stuff happened between books and we have to just find out about it in conversation. But with everything taken into consideration I think I have to give the book a 9 of 10.

Book Rating: All That Remains: 8 of 10
Book Rating: Cruel & Unusual: 9 of 10
Series Rating: Kay Scarpetta: 9 of 10

I will keep reading this series for a while longer, though at this point I'm not sure I'll stick with the series long enough to make it to book 17.

I like Kay Scarpetta, and I've enjoyed working through these mysteries with her. I enjoy the procedural stuff, and I enjoy trying to figure things out as she does - sometimes I get it first, sometimes she gets it first. But I can see these books quickly turning into a bunch of stand alone novels. Plus, part of what is great about reading a series is that you get to follow a character's life. We aren't really getting to do that, since there are so many years of Kay's life between books, and since so many important things happen to her between books.

For now, I will keep reading.

1 and 2. The Scarpetta Collection Volume I: Postmortem and Body of Evidence
3 and 4. Scarpetta Collection Volume II: All That Remains and Cruel & Unusual
5. The Body Farm
6. From Potter's Field
7. Cause of Death
8. Unnatural Exposure
9. Point of Origin
10.Black Notice
11.The Last Precinct
12.Blow Fly
15.Book of the Dead
17.The Scarpetta Factor

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