cover image Unnatural Death: A Kay Scarpetta Mystery

Unnatural Death: A Kay Scarpetta Mystery

Patricia Cornwell. Grand Central, $30 (432p) ISBN 978-1-5387-4316-4

In Cornwell’s overstuffed 28th adventure for Scarpetta (after Livid), the medical examiner joins with other recurring characters to solve a pair of brutal murders. Scarpetta and Pete Marino, her longtime associate and brother-in-law, are called to the wilderness of Buckingham Run in northern Virginia to examine the corpses of outdoor enthusiasts Huck and Brittany Manson. Brittany’s nude body was found floating in a lake, impaled by two hiking poles; Huck, also nude and mutilated, was discovered in a nearby mine shaft, his body caught in collapsed wooden scaffolding. Why were they killed so savagely? And why does the U.S. government want their autopsies conducted in secret? The deeper Scarpetta and Marino dig, the more questions emerge, with early evidence pointing toward an international terrorist organization bent on bringing down the U.S. Cornwell burdens her narrative with an excess of subplots, including dull glimpses of Marino’s rocky marriage, the discovery of a potential Bigfoot print, and political in-fighting at Scarpetta’s office, all of which cause the pace to drag. Even hardcore fans might struggle with this one. (Nov.)