Saturday, April 04, 2009

Postmortem - Patricia Cornwell

My original plan after the last reads was to crack on slightly belatedly with The Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway as the final read of the Richard and Judy Challenge. However, when I was just getting to the tube station I stopped and looked in my bag… no book! There is a very well situated Charity Shop just opposite so I dashed in for a 50p find. I wanted something I hadn’t tried before but also something that was different from my recent reads and my eyes fell upon Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell someone I have been meaning to read for ages as she is one of the biggest selling crime writers of the present day. Also with my love for crime fiction and of course the great Tess Gerritsen this looked like it would be right up my street. Plus it is the first in the series, and one of my pacts with myself is only to by a book in a series if it’s in order and have read the last one… or like this it is the first one. There is also the fact that I cant read books if its not in the correct order, I am not saying its wrong to do that, I just like to follow the journey as the author intended even if the books are stand alone novels as well.

Postmortem was Patricia Cornwell’s first published novel and was also the first in what has become the multi-million copy shifting Kay Scarpetta series. In Richmond, Virginia a serial killer seems to be on the loose three women have died and as we join the story Dr Kay Scarpetta has been woken with the news there is now a fourth. Now it’s a race against time and more killings for these crimes to be solved and the killer to be caught. Scarpetta is not the detective in the scenario though she is the Chief Medical Officer and through this we get a lot more of the science of crime scene investigations (which of course with the TV now is an incredibly popular angle though this book came out long before) as well as the detective work to find the killer.

While all this goes on of course we are given an insight into the personal life of Scarpetta which isn’t simple either. She cannot stand the detective (Marino) with whom she has to liaise with on these cases. It appears her peers and bosses aren’t sure that as a woman she is capable of the job. One of her peers has become a very complicated possible lover. On top of that she has her niece staying with her who thinks of Scarpetta as a surrogate mother. That’s a lot of stuff going on. Yet oddly, despite the fact you have all this I didn’t feel like I knew who Scarpetta was. I know she liked to garden and she liked to cook, though I wondered how she had time, and that her family history is Italian. That was about it maybe that will come with the books as I go further along the series which is something I definitely intend on doing.

Have any of you read the series, is it worth going on with at the moment I am thinking it is. I just think that Tess Gerritsen has an edge on Patricia Cornwell in terms of her work being slightly more gripping and page turning however I am further along in that series. Plus Speaking of series are there any crime series I am missing out on, I read the Gerritsen’s, M.C Beaton’s and Susan Hill’s what others would you recommend? I have heard that Mankell’s Wallander series is very good, do let me know.

9 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have read just about everything Cornwell has written, and her first books are wonderful. The last four or so have gone to hell in a handbasket...don't know what happened to her. I recently saw an interview with Cornwell, with her talking about how she completely embodies the characters in her books. If they scuba dive, then she does it too. If they fly helicopters (Lucy), then she learns too.

There are so many crime series out there, I could never even begin to tell you all of them I've enjoyed. Take a look at my post that I did awhile ago about a few of them that I follow religiously:

http://sandynawrot.blogspot.com/2008/11/crime-series-novelwhy-i-cant-get.html

Bluestocking said...

Hi Simon! Haven't visited in a while. Just thought I'd drop by and say hello.

Savidge Reads said...

Thanks Sandy I have looked at your blog and commented. It sounds like Patricia simply wants to get as many experiences out of her books as possible. I am hoping Body of Evidence is slightly more grabbing.

Bluestocking - hello how is all, hope your well.

fleurfisher said...

I'll agree with Sandy on Patricia Cornwell. I used to buy her books religiously, then I started waiting for them to turn up in the library and now I pass them by. I would recommend Susan Hill, so long as you don't mind a good bit of your detective's family story being mixed in with the crime.

candyschultz said...

I have read all Cornwell and if you want to follow the backstory it is essential to read them in order. I really like her crimes and police procedural parts but after awhile I got kinda sick of Scarpetta and her love life. There is no way a coroner has that much time let alone gets to run all over the state chasing criminals. I did keep reading however.

claire said...

Isn't it a drag to find you have some time to kill and discovered you forgot to bring a book? I hate it when that happens to me, too, although, in your case, you were lucky to be near that charity shop!

I'm also like you with reading a series, I want to start with the first. I have never read Alexander McCall Smith only because I haven't found his first book in the used bookshops, lol (I'm so cheap!).

By the way, which poets have been hits and which have been misses for you?

Sarah said...

I read the first few of the Scarpetta books, I found the crimes increasingly outlandish and the personal lives of the characters too soapy so stopped.

Of crime fiction series still being published, I like the Daziel and Pascoe books by Reginald Hill, the Dalgliesh books by P. D James, the Montalbano books by Andre Camilleri and anything by Peter Temple.

I haven't tried Tess Gerritsen yet, when I do I to feel I must start with the first book.

Savidge Reads said...

Fleurfisher - I have read the first three Susan Hill ones and think they are great, they are like crime and literature mixed. Hav eyou tried Kate Atkinson's "crime" novels? They are brilliant.

Candy - I always have to read series of any genre in order. I will see how I get on with Body of Evidence before I decide whether Cornwall and I will become great reading pals.

Claire - having no book with me when I go out is horrible. I now have a table in the hall I take my book from bed to in the morning and put on when I make breakfast that way I dont forget... well only every so often.

Sarah - Gerritsen is a slightly more outlandish page turning version of Cornwell, though her characters (both females) are wonderfully written and she just takes me in more. I can read her in one sitting. I havent tried any you mentioned so I will give them a look!

farmlanebooks said...

I don't think I've read any Cornwall.

I love crime, but haven't found an amazing one recently - I wish I could find an author in this genre I love. It is a very hard thing to get right, and not many people manage it in my very critical eyes!