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Sunday, April 21, 2013


4 stars out of 5

After a couple of not-so-great Kay Scarpetta mysteries, Patricia Cornwell moved back toward her style groove in the 2011 Red Mist. So, I was hoping the trend would continue in her latest, The Bone Bed. And happily, it did.

This one begins as Scarpetta, chief medical examiner at a facility in Boston, receives a mysterious emailed video that suggests a missing paleontologist has been murdered at a "bone bed" archaeological dig a couple of thousand miles away. Then, just as she is forced to testify in the trial of a wealthy man accused of murdering his wife, whose body was never found, Scarpetta is called to help with a woman's body that's become entwined near an old boat in the Charles River - along with a huge, endangered leatherback turtle. Could this unidentified woman be the murdered wife? Are there connections with the woman in the video?

As she tries to follow where the evidence leads, she is mystified by actions of her technologically gifted niece, Lucy, as well as by her FBI profiler husband, Benton Wesley, the latter bringing into question his fidelity and the strength of their marriage. Also coming into question is the loyalty of her old friend and work colleague Pete Marino, who's landed in hot water following an Internet "relationship" gone sour and seems to be heading back down that slippery slope toward alcoholism.

Still an issue for me is Scarpetta's questioning of what's in her own mind (although it's not as noticeable in this book) as well as her near paranoia and over-thinking of every word and action of her husband, Lucy and just about every other character with whom she comes in contact. To be sure, getting older has a way of bringing with it certain insecurities, but somehow that just doesn't quite fit with the Scarpetta I've come to know and love. She's been around the block for too many times, and much too successfully, to question her own abilities, at least to this extent. 

The Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell (Putnam Adult October 2012); 480 pp.

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