May 23, 2011

Post-Mortem by Patricia Cornwell

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Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the madman. But this investigation will test Kay like no other, because it’s being sabotaged from within—and someone wants her dead.

My Thoughts:

I really was wondering who started this whole forensic science fiction writing book business. I loved Kathy Reichs book and the entire series with Temperance Brennan. I started to fall in love through the forced watching of Bones and then I heard that the whole television series was based on a book I practically flipped my lid rushing to the library to get my hands on the series. And then I fell madly in love with murder mystery books. Sorta.

I've always been the type to read Mary Higgins books but this type of book takes to a whole different level. And I wanted to read more. From a different author. Loved Temperance Brennan but I wanted more and the history behind writing books like that. From the coroner/medical examiner/forensic anthropology/sciency point of view. So now I had my chance. Delved into the history and popped upon Patricia Cornwell and her character, Kay Scarpetta.

I know a lot of people, or maybe not a lot but some, who compare Temperance Brennan and Kay Scarpetta. And I have to say both are great. When I first started reading Post-Mortem, I had my reservations. It is not that I didn't think it would be good. The first few pages told me so, but I just didn't want to mix the two girls up. They were very similar and yet very different. If they ever faced off, I'm not sure who would win.

I shouldn't have worried though. Dr. Scarpetta stood on her own two feet and told me loud and clear that is a contender and will proudly grace my shelves. Not only was the plot realistic and medically correct (asked my family members who are medical people and it all checks out) but the personal life was what kept me tuned. The twists and turns, the whole conspiracy of it all and how Patricia Cornwell seperated truth from fiction was just so cleverly done that I never wanted the book to end.

To say this book was a great book is an understatement. I haven't read a book this well written in so long. I mean of course there were a few mistakes, which I will get to later, but overall it is a nail-bitter book that I do not regret buying.

There was a slight hitch: Stereotypical African American speech patterns.

Now why would I pick up on that? Well, they are in a southern state (my state in fact, Virginia!) and not that far from my own city (Richmond) so I pretty much know the speech patterns. And it seems like the African American characters in her book seemed to be given the same voice and the same Ebonic code that my hackles were rising up. That I wanted to put the book down, but I didn't.


Simple: I like to give authors second chances. I do. I gave Kathy Reichs a second chance when she gave me all of this medical terms that I could barely sift through in the first novel so I read the second. And the third and I saw a pattern that she was getting increasingly better with her terminology and getting back to normal terms. So I'm glad I give her a second chance. Now that I think about it, I gave Meg Cabot and a lot of authors I end up loving a second chance.

Is it obvious I believe in second chances?

Maybe, maybe not. Main point here: Every author makes a mistake. Point blank. Sometimes the words don't flow across the page like they want to or something comes off as one thing but really mean another. So I like to give a second chance. A fresh start. Especially if I see the author, like Meg Cabot for example, who have great talent that I would love to see develop more. And see them grow as the writer I knew they could be and here I am int he peanut gallery cheering them on.

Sometimes I do that through sending them a helpful email. Barry Lyga can attest to that and so many other authors I've spoken to. But I'm drifting off into another topic all together.

Any who, I want to see if Patricia Cornwell will continue this trend of stereotyping African Americans. If she does then I'll drop the series and never read another book hers ever. I know, a bit harsh, but I am tired of seeing minorities put into boxes and being put in a place where we don't belong. I'm tired of being pushed aside and put into a category along with others. I am to be in my own category and not shoved off as being another minority who is never satisfied. Damn straight I will never be satisfied until prejudice stops. And just because we have an African American president, Barack Obama, doesn't mean I stop speaking out against prejudice. It's still out there and I'm not going to ignore it and put it under the rug. And I will not tolerate exposing my children/students to this sort of stereotyping and assume that it is okay to do so.

So without further distraction, I will say this: I doubt Patricia Cornwell will continue this pattern, but if she does I'm not going to support it.

Now the biggest question of them all: Do I recommend it?

Absolutely. Putting aside my concerns, I loved the book. I wanted to chuck it into the corner in some parts and wanted to just snuggle under the covers with a hot cup of cocoa for most of it. I loved the suspenseful twists and turns including the analytical yet political stuff behind the scenes. All of this to say, I would recommend this book to anybody who loves a good murder mystery.

Last important question: Will I be able to understand her legal/medical jargon?

Yes. Without a doubt. I wished I read Patricia Cornwell's book before reading Kathy Reichs because it's a nice smooth transition from the medical to the normal to the plain ol' fashion what is she saying doc speak. It's very easy to understand, and if you don't know what in the world is going on, look it up. I'm always ready to learn new medical terms or new facts about forensic science. It's always interesting to research as a writer.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to people who love Bones but don't want all of the medical stuff to get in the way of enjoying a good murder case.

Here are some great other recommendations:
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"Fans of TV's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation should be in heaven" (People) stepping into the world of forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan, star of Kathy Reichs's electrifyingly authentic bestsellers.
Her life is devoted to justice — for those she never even knew.

In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Tempe detects an alarming pattern — and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her — her best friend and her own daughter — in mortal danger....

Great book. A little bit harder to read so this is for the reader who can take a challenge head on or someone who knows their medical terminology.
Any book by this author is really great as a matter of fact. Viral is also a great book.

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A minor road accident landed county prosecutor Katie DeMaio in Westlake Hospital. That night, from her window, she thought she saw a man load a woman's body into the trunk of a car...or was it just a sleeping pill induced nightmare? At work the next day, Katie began investigating a suicide that looked more like murder. Initial evidence pointed elsewhere, but medical examiner Richard Carroll saw a trail leading to Dr. Edgar Highley. He suspected that the famous doctor's work "curing" infertile women was more than controversial — that it was deceitful, depraved, and often deadly. But before Richard could tell Katie his fears, she left the office for the weekend and an appointment for routine Dr. Highley's operating room.

My first ever Mary Higgins Clark book that my mother's friend gave to me to read. Ah, great book. Pretty much any book by her is really really good. I love her books. I still remember practically robbing the library of all the books by Mary Higgins Clark. My first week of high school. Anyway . . .

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They only meant to scare him.
Mr. Griffin is the strictest teacher at Del Norte High, with a penchant for endless projects and humiliating his students. Even straight-A student Susan can't believe how mean he is to the charismatic Mark Kinney. So when her crush asks Susan to help a group of students teach a lesson of their own, she goes along. After all, it's a harmless prank, right?
But things don't go according to plan. When one "accident" leads to another, people begin to die. Susan and her friends must face the awful truth: one of them is a killer.

A classic author that once again bring back fabulous memories of reading her books in high school. Anyway great book, great writer. This book is obviously for the younger audience. Even though I read Mary Higgins Clark at a young age I wouldn't recommend it to everybody who is 14. Just my opinion though. My mother was horrified that I read Mary Higgins Clark at 14 and that her friend snuck me some other ones as well, but I have to say, I could read Loius Duncan or Mary Higgins Clark all night long.

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When Mitch McDeere signed on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis, he thought that he and his beautiful wife, Abby, were on their way. The firm leased him a BMW, paid off his school loans, arranged a mortgage, and hired the McDeeres a decorator. Mitch should have remembered what his brother Ray–doing fifteen years in a Tennessee jail–already knew: You never get nothing for nothing. Now the FBI has the lowdown on Mitch’s firm and needs his help. Mitch is caught between a rock and a hard place, with no choice–if he wants to live.

Another classic author with a very well known book, The Firm. It wasn't until after the movie I read this particular book but I've been a fan for a very long time. Then I took like a eight year hiatus and now I'm back on the bandwagon. It seems like I alternate between mystery and romance but that's a whole different subject. Anyway another great dependable author. Not so forensic science or murder, but still crime and justice and the thin lines between them. So it's just a different approach but a good place to start if your a bit squeamish of blood but still want the whole feel of a crime novel minus the murder and potential zombies.


  1. Great blog. I think I'm going to like it here. I am a new follower and would love a visit/follow on my blog. Thanks. Donna

  2. Thanks for visiting and following my blog! I am now a follower of your blog.

  3. Awesome review. I love suspenseful books with great character development. This sounds amazing.

    I'm following.

  4. Thanks for following and for visiting Elisabeth! I'm now following you too.

  5. I used to read the "Scarpetta" series, but gave it up a few years ago. I really grew to dislike Kay and her niece after a while. Enjoyed the early books, though.

  6. Hello Sonja and thanks for visiting my blog! Sorry it's taking me forever and a lifetime to comment back, but I've been at a place for three days with no internet access.

    Hmm, that's quite interesting. Kay and the niece? Maybe that's why Kathy Reichs got a television show and Patricia Cornwell didn't. You never know. Anyway, thanks for the heads up, if the book series takes a turn, I'll post about it!