This is actually not a book I read for any of my current challenges. I've read all the other Scarpetta books and bought this one last week. I've liked most of the other books, but I'm not as sure about this one.
In this one, all of the regular characters are back: Kay; Lucy, her computer-gifted niece; Benton, her lover; Rose, her secretary; and Marino, her investigator and friend. The plot revolved around a series of gruesome murders linked to a famous self-help doctor who has appeared in another one of the novels.
Strengths of Book of the Dead: As always, the forensic science parts are totally cool. It's like James Bond gadgets but with Lucy and Kay in charge. Nice bit of female power. Scarpetta continues to be a strong character filled with flaws and nuances. She is not boring, and Cornwell has allowed her to grow during the series of books.
Weaknesses of Book of the Dead: (Spoiler alert - many of my issues will give away major plot points!) Everyone, and I mean everyone, is much too tragic in this one. Rose is dying of lung cancer ... Lucy has a brain tumor .... Marino loses his mind (and is left in sequel limbo) ... Benton is confused and bewildered ... Kay is engaged but with lots of doubts. I can see a crisis, or even two, in a well-written story, but this became way too melodramatic. Oh, and Rose is dating Kay's main competitor! Come on!
Then there's the murder plot. The reader knows all along who the murderer is but not who he really is. Cornwell pulled his identity out of her hat, and there was no real way for the reader to have that moment of "a-ha" - that's how it all tied in. There were facts the reader couldn't have known that were pertinent to his identify. Further, the ending left Marino lost and in limbo, and it didn't resolve any of the melodrama of cancer and brain tumors. It felt like Cornwell simply ran out of words, or wanted to make sure readers would buy the next book. (Spoiler ended!)
Overall, I was quite disappointed in this one. It was not as well-written as others in the series. The plot was much weaker, and I really didn't like the plot twists for the major characters. I wonder if this happens with other long-running book series. Do the authors run out of ideas for their characters? Do they get too comfortable, sure of themselves and more accepting of less quality in their writing? If you've read this one, I'd love to know what you think. I'm also curious to know if you've had the same experience of being disappointed in the latest book in a favorite series.