I never used to read crime fiction, but a few years ago my friend introduced me to the Patricia Cornwell Scarpetta books.
All of the books centre on Kay Scarpetta, a sexy older woman who also happens to be a forensic pathologist (or something, it changes from book to book) and is almost certainly based on the author herself. Along with Scarpetta there’s her niece Lucy, her husband Benton and dodgy cop Pete Marino.
I loved those books. I lapped them up. I went through the back copies and bought every new book as it came out. They were so exciting.
But then I started reading other thrillers and crime fiction and the gloss slightly wore off Cornwell and Scarpetta.
And so I came to the latest – Port Mortuary. There is a note inside saying that all the stuff it describes is real – all the technology really exists. But, do you know what? I don’t really care.
Because, despite that fact, it all just seemed too far-fetched, too convenient. It amazes me the way Scarpetta and Lucy just seem to know everything off the top of their heads.
Thrillers always are a little far-fetched, but, having read Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo, Cornwell just isn’t good enough for me any more. There’s too much technology and way too much clunky, American dialogue. And way too much back-story which has just magically appeared out of nowhere and hadn’t been referred to in the previous SEVENTEEN Scarpetta books. You wouldn’t find J K Rowling doing that.
I don’t know if Cornwell has lost her touch or if, for me at least, she doesn’t compare to the newer crop of thriller writers. Port Mortuary was a reasonably entertaining read, but I was quite glad to get to the end of it – not because I wanted to find out what was happening, but because I was a bit, well, BORED really.