JBradford's Reviews > Black Notice

Black Notice by Patricia Cornwell
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Jun 04, 2012

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Read in June, 2012

Kay Scarpetta, serving as Virginia’s Chief Medical Examiner, slowly recovering from the year-old loss of her murdered lover, gets called into a new case when a rotted human body is found in a shipping container being unloaded at the Richmond port. Examining the remains, she finds some mysteries that eventually lead her to Paris and back. Meanwhile, there is a new Deputy Chief of Police in town, who arrives with an agenda: to get Captain Marino off the police force and to get Dr. Scarpetta out of Virginia. As if that were not enough, there suddenly starts a new set of serial murders, someone apparently is stalking both Kay and her secretary, and Lucy’s resourcefulness gets her into a new batch of trouble with her ATF employers.

Despite my fondness for Ms. Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta novels, I find minor problems with her characters. Captain Marino is simply too crude and obstreperous to be believable (I say that even though I have known people at his supervisory level who in retrospect seem equally crude and obstreperous) or to be befriended by Kay (I say that even though I have seen very many cases in which equally unmatched persons seem to get along with reach other), and Lucy is simply too intelligent to do some of the things she does (and I say that even though I have had the fortune [or misfortune] to know incredibly intelligent and talented people who also had blind spots and did unfathomable things). I had the same problems with some of the minor characters in this novel, including a police sergeant who was unbelievable, a morgue assistant whose actions seemed incredibly obtuse, and a longtime secretary who simply would not say the things she said. On the other hand, I observed with interest that another of the characters, who in a later book (that I have not yet read) does incredibly bad things, seems perfectly bland and harmless here. Maybe it is just that real humans are incredibly complicated creatures, and Cornwell’s depiction of her creations is so realistic that I cannot understand them?

My original reason for joining Goodreads was that my youngest daughter told me that this would stop me from rereading books that I had forgotten I had read. Thurs turns out not to be the case, not only because it would require me to check my Goodreads shelves before starting to read a book (which is only marginally practical and not very likely) but also because it would require me to enter into my Goodreads account a review of every book I read, and I have just discovered I don’t to that, either. I’m also not going to go into my usual diatribe about the 5-star rating system; as with all of Cornwell’s books, this one is far superior to most of the things I put in the 3-star category, but it’s not quite to the point that I want to give it four stars, which I reserve for books one ought to read. I am also having a problem because this book was read out of sequence directly after reading a later Scarpetta novel (which I did not enter into Goodreads before I took it back to the library, apparently)


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