cover image Livid: A Scarpetta Novel

Livid: A Scarpetta Novel

Patricia Cornwell. Grand Central, $29 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5387-2516-0

Bestseller Cornwell’s solid 26th Kay Scarpetta novel (after 2021’s Autopsy) opens with Kay, now Virginia’s chief medical examiner, testifying at a controversial murder trial, which has attracted media attention thanks to the angry and vocal friends, family, and supporters of the victim, former beauty queen April Tupelo. No sooner has Kay left the courtroom than she’s called to a crime scene. CIA employee Rachael Stanwyck, the sister of judge Annie Chilton, who’s presiding over the Tupelo case, is lying dead on the kitchen floor of Annie’s secluded country house. Kay is immediately struck by the eerie lack of bird, insect, and animal life surrounding the house, leading her colleague and brother-in-law, Pete Marino, to comment, “Is it just me? Or is something weird going on?” Another brutal death, a failed presidential assassination, a band of homegrown terrorists, and more all take their turn stirring the pot of weirdness. The story line at times gets lost amid extended descriptions of crime scene examinations and autopsy techniques, as well as interactions with difficult colleagues and Kay’s eternally petulant sister. This fact-filled entry isn’t Cornwell’s best, but fans will be satisfied. [em] (Oct.) [/em]