BOOK: Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell

For the last few years, I keep picking up Patricia Cornwell’s latest mysteries featuring medical examiner Kay Scarpetta and being stunned by how utterly awful they are. I used to adore this series — I remember totally devouring all the books I could find when I first discovered it over a decade ago. But now, good lord. They’re so unbearable I’ve decided I absolutely MUST stop reading them. For the sake of my own sanity! I mean, I thought for a while that maybe it was just a fluke — maybe the NEXT book would be good — but they’re getting worse and worse instead, and I’m completely out of optimism at this point.

After reading the last one, The Book of the Dead, it occurred to me it was possible this series was always bad, and that I simply hadn’t known any better way back when I used to enjoy it. So, I decided to pick up one of the series’ earlier installments and see what I thought. I chose this one because I couldn’t remember a single thing about the plot — seemed like a good one to use as a test case.

And guess what! This is a really good book! It was an excellent reminder of all the things I used to adore about this series — the sharp plots (this one involving the mysterious death of a reporter in what at first glance looks like a diving accident), the great characters (ah, the old Lucy and Pete — so much less thoroughly annoying than the NEW Lucy and Pete!), and the solid medical science. And, wonder of wonders, the writing isn’t bad either.

So, I guess the answer is: No, the series wasn’t always bad. In fact, it used to be pretty great. Cornwell, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do.

[MYSTERY]

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