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Thanks to the folks at publisher HarperCollins for providing this review copy!

I was dubious about reading this 22nd Scarpetta novel, as the last few were meandering, self absorbed, and boring. Thank goodness Cornwell seems to be back to letting action tell the tale, rather than have Kay muse constantly about how people treat her and how everything is a mystery. There is some of that here; Benton and Lucy seem uncommunicative at times, Marino is still angry, and Kay obsesses over how Marino describes her as cold and impersonal:

“You and me both,” Marino says as if something else is on his mind. “People shouldn’t get away with shit, I don’t care who they are.”

“Cold and impersonal,” I consider as if I’m amused but I’m not.

“I said sort of.”

“You’ve waited all this time to tell me that?”

“I’ve said it before including behind your back. You’re different now.”

“I was that bad back then?”

“Yeah and I was an asshole,” he says. “We deserved each other.”

Benton and Kay are hours away from flying to Florida for a week of vacation to celebrate Kay’s birthday when she is called to the scene of a shooting.  As she investigates further she realizes that this may be linked to other shootings, as the victims are all somehow connected to her. There is a sleazy insurance investigator that is stalking Scarpetta, a 14 year old drowning victim that needs to be autopsied, and bizarre behavior from a congressman’s trouble son. Eventually all this comes together to implicate Lucy as the sniper–she has the ways and means, and may be going off the deep end. It’s up to her own flesh and blood, Scarpetta, to get to the bottom of everything.

The book is certainly better than the last few, but not as good as the first 8 or so. That being said, there is plenty of forensic science, autopy action, and a long and complicated section on guns, bullets, ammunition loads, and computerized scopes that can give minimally experienced shooters an edge on accuracy.

I want to say that I figured out fairly early on who they were alluding to as the killer, but I won’t spoil it here. Suffice it to say that there was plenty of things to keep me interested, as all the subplots got wrapped up and the tension built. The last few pages fly along as Benton and Scarpetta go on a dive to recover evidence.  Just as I was relaxing and enjoying the last page—-BOOM! It ends on a cliffhanger; very out of character for Cornwell.  Not my favorite type of ending, but this is a good way to ensure that people will be salivating for your next book.

Overall, I did enjoy it, as the characters seemed to be more of their normal selves. For the Greyhound lovers, Sock is still Scarpetta’s faithful companion, and I enjoyed how she and Benton seemed at ease and still in love in the beginning of the book. Let’s hope Cornwell keeps the good stuff coming.


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