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Library Journal Review
Kay Scarpetta grapples with a serial killer who contacts her via the Internet in this latest from crime novelist Cornwell, who is involved in some headline-making scandal of her own: In a recent trial, she was named as the former lover of a woman whose husband attempted to murder her in a rage over the affair. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
In this return to the luridly fascinating world of Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Cornwell delivers the goods her fans love best. Moving from serial dismemberment to a high-tech virus that threatens a pox-like epidemic, this eighth appearance (following last year's Cause of Death) of the compulsive forensics pathologist who is Virginia's Medical Examiner and a consultant to the FBI ranges from Dublin to Richmond, Va., making stops at a tiny barrier island in the Chesapeake Bay and the government's huge biological defense facility in Dugway, Utah. Tours of Graceland in Memphis and Atlanta's Center for Disease Control are added before the closing in London. The dismembered corpse of an elderly woman found in a Virginia landfill doesn't quite fit the profile of earlier dismemberments; also puzzling is the pattern of pustules found on the torso. As Scarpetta follows the forensics clues, she faces the unscrupled ambitions of a slick FBI agent; the difficulties encountered by Lucy, her beloved niece, computer genius and a lesbian; her own exposure to the unidentified, sometimes fatal virus (and subsequent quarantine); and the turbulent ambivalence of her feelings for Agent Wesley Benton. Fully as satisfying as previous Kay Scarpetta novels, this one is built on a sturdy workmanlike plot and doles out rewards in the gory, high-tech details, allowing readers to overlook the lapses of Cornwell's non-Scarpetta venture in this year's earlier Hornet's Nest. 1,000,000 first printing; $750,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Cornwell's latest will undoubtedly sell like hotcakes, given the runaway popularity of her Dr. Kay Scarpetta novels.In the eighth in the series, Scarpetta, Virginia's chief medical examiner, has been called to Ireland to help investigate a series of grisly murders in which the killer dismembers his victims. Imagine her horror when Scarpetta returns to the U.S. and finds the killer--or a terrifying copycat--has struck at home. Worse, the victims appear to have been exposed to a deadly, highly contagious smallpox-like virus. To complete her personal nightmare, Scarpetta may have been exposed to the virus, and the killer has started sending her gruesome e-mail messages. With the help of her savvy FBI agent niece Lucy, Scarpetta tracks the elusive killer as her own life hangs in the balance. The suspense builds to an unbearable pitch, but when the murderer's identity and motive are revealed, it's more puzzling than satisfying. No matter. A misstep at the end of an otherwise gripping thriller will do nothing to derail Cornwell's remarkable run of commercial success. The one-million-copy first printing ought to just about handle the demand. --Emily Melton
Kirkus Book Review
Whoever shot the latest unidentified female victim Dr. Kay Scarpetta's called out to examine--whoever cut off her head, dismembered her, and bagged her torso for disposal in a Virginia landfill--may have been doing her a favor. Though Virginia's chief medical examiner doesn't realize it until she's called out to an even more horrific death scene--an inoffensive old woman on Tangier Island who seems to have died of smallpox--the earlier victim had signs of the same ravaging illness, supposedly eradicated in 1977. The violence to the first victim, and the care taken to conceal her identity, would point to murder even if Scarpetta hadn't started to get sinister computer messages from somebody called ""deadoc,"" who soon goes on to order the President: ""apologize if not I will start on france"" [sic]. Arrayed against deadoc are the Richmond homicide squad (headed by Scarpetta's old friend Capt. Pete Marino), the Virginia State Police, the FBI (including Scarpetta's on-again lover Benton Wesley and her niece Lucy), the Center for Disease Control, and the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. But in true Cornwell fashion, the good guys are their own worst enemies: The state cops and the FBI are mired in turf wars; a slick state investigator's determined to arrest the wrong perp and smear Lucy for an old lesbian affair; the USAMRIID, woefully underfunded, has furloughed so many unessential employees that there's hardly a nurse to care for Scarpetta when she comes down with a fever she can only pray isn't smallpox. Cornwell's tenth (Hornet's Nest, 1997, etc.) shows her bestselling formula--in-your-face forensics, computer terrorism, agency infighting, soap-opera romance, penny-dreadful villain--wearing a little thin. But fans, swept up in a fever of their own, won't care a bit. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.