A serial killer is on the loose in Richmond, Virginia. Three women have died, brutalised and strangled in their own bedroom. There is no pattern: the killer appears to strike at random - but always early on Saturday mornings.So when Dr Kay Scarpetta, chief medical officer, is awakened at 2.33 am, she knows the news is bad: there is a fourth victim. And she fears now for those that will follow unless she can dig up new forensic evidence to aid the police.But not everyone is pleased to see a woman in this powerful job. Someone may even want to ruin her career and reputation.
When I'm reading a book and all the while I'm thinking of what to read next, that's not a good sign. When I'm reading a book and I have to constantly fight the urge to put it away, that's not a good sign either. It means that I'm bored and not enjoying the book at all. Unfortunately this is what I felt like while reading Patricia Cornwell's debut novel Postmortem. Having read so many good reviews and received recommendations for this book, this was really an anticlimax for me.
I knew that this book was written a quarter of a century ago, so I was expecting to read about some obsolete forensic and DNA tests and computer systems and programming. It wasn't that that put me off. It was rather the way the author delivered such information in her book. I found myself reading whole pages about how to insert a new password or a certain query function in the computer to obtain a certain result or about how a forensic test is carried out step by step in the lab. Though the author's intention was to give us a clearer picture, (since DNA testing and computers were at a very early stage back then), I found such detailed information too technical and annoying and it actually did not add anything to the story. I thought its use was simply to increase the book's volume. The book could very well have had half its pages axed.
Though the actual crimes are very gruesome and well illustrated and explained, the story was more concentrated on politics and on how somebody wanted to taint Dr.Scarpetta's reputation. I have to say that the only chapters I found somewhat engrossing and exciting were just the first and the last one. The chapters' excessive length simply added to my frustration.
As with regards the characters in this novel, I could not warm to any of them, not even to Kay Scarpetta. I found her rather bleak, negative and arrogant. I know that this is just the first book of a long series and definitely the author would have developed these characters in the books that follow, but I'm sorry to say that I will most probably not read the rest, at least not for the time being. With all the praise given to this author, I was expecting to be reading a much better crime novel and this was indeed very disappointing.