Inside the changing room for female staff, I toss soiled scrubs into a biohazard hamper and strip off the rest of my clothes and medical clogs. I wonder if Col. Scarpetta stenciled in black on my locker will be removed the minute I return to New England in the morning. The thought hadn’t entered my mind before now, and it bothers me. A part of me doesn’t want to leave this place.
Life at Dover Air Force Base has its comforts, despite six months of hard training and the bleakness of handling death daily on behalf of the U.S. government. My stay here has been surprisingly uncomplicated. I can even say it’s been pleasant. I’m going to miss getting up before dawn in my modest room, dressing in cargo pants, a polo shirt, and boots, and walking in the cold dark across the parking lot to the golf course clubhouse for coffee and something to eat before driving to Port Mortuary, where I’m not in charge. When I’m on duty for the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, the AFME, I’m no longer a chief. In fact, I’m outranked by quite a number of people, and critical decisions aren’t mine to make, assuming I’m even asked. Not so when I return to Massachusetts, where I’m depended on by everyone.
It’s Monday, February 8. The wall clock above the shiny white sinks reads 16:33 hours, lit up red like a warning. In less than ninety minutes I’m supposed to appear on CNN and explain what a forensic radiologic pathologist, or RadPath, is and why I’ve become one, and what Dover and the Department of Defense and the White House have to do with it. In other words, I’m not just a medical examiner anymore, I suppose I’ll say, and not just a habeas reservist with the AFME, either. Since 9/11, since the United States invaded Iraq, and now the surge of troops in Afghanistan—I rehearse points I should make—the line between the military and civilian worlds has forever faded. An example I might give: This past November during a forty-eight-hour period, thirteen fallen warriors were flown here from the Middle East, and just as many casualties arrived from Fort Hood, Texas. Mass casualty isn’t restricted to the battlefield, although I’m no longer sure what constitutes a battlefield. Maybe every place is one, I will say on TV. Our homes, our schools, our churches, commercial aircraft, and where we work, shop, and go on vacation.
I sort through toiletries as I sort through comments I need to make about 3-D imaging radiology, the use of computerized tomography, or CT, scans in the morgue, and I remind myself to emphasize that although my new headquarters in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, is the first civilian facility in the United States to do virtual autopsies, Baltimore will be next, and eventually the trend will spread. The traditional postmortem examination of dissect as you go and take photographs after the fact and hope you don’t miss something or introduce an artifact can be dramatically improved by technology and made more precise, and it should be.
Copyright © 2010 by CEI Enterprises, Inc.
Suspense is the name of the game for #1 bestselling author Patricia Cornwell. And Port Mortuary, her 18th novel featuring forensic expert Kay Scarpetta, is no exception.
It’s been 20 years since Scarpetta joined the Air Force to pay off her medical-school debts, and now her secret military ties are back in play. She’s at Dover Air Force Base to master the art of CT-assisted virtual autopsy; the White House mandates she, as the chief of the new Cambridge Forensic Center in Massachusetts, introduce the procedure in the private sector. And so far, she has everything under control. But when a young man drops dead suspiciously close to Scarpetta’s new Cambridge home and his body is examined the next morning, her career is suddenly on the line. High-tech scans reveal it not only possible, but probable that the man was alive when he was locked inside the center’s cooler! What’s more, details of his injuries are like nothing Scarpetta has ever seen, suggesting the existence of a conspiracy to commit mass casualties. Kay turns to her support group—Marino, Benton and Lucy—for help, unaware that behind the madness is an enemy from her past both cunning and cruel…and determined to take her down.
Hardcover Book : 368 pages
Publisher: Putnam Pub Group/Mbr of Penguin Putnam ( November 30, 2010 )
Item #: 13-152062
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.83inches
Product Weight: 16.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
The first time I read Cornwell's books were in 1990 with Post Mortem. Read it in a day. And all the others to follow. With that being said... I think its time to end Scarpetta's span.
The last three, Scarpetta, The Scarpetta Factor and this were so awful, yet I felt compelled to read them because I have been reading the series for so long.
I cannot stand the dour, pickle pussed characters. LUCY!!! Does she ever find anything happy and amusing in life? Benton! With his secretive talking in circles with Kay behavior- should've kept him dead a few books back! Marino used to be a lovable oaf of a cop that you giggled at. Now he is a caustic, negative character.
I really don't think I could read another book like this. Too much mumbo jumbo with MORT, flybots, and it never got better. SAVE YOUR MONEY!!
Reviewer: Christine S
Boring details,over and over and over. I kept waiting for something to actually happen!! The morgue fumes finally got to Kay, super paranoid! Use to love her books, but I won't get another.
Reviewer: Karen C
Wow - I see I'm not the only one who disliked this book! Like others I have read many of Cornwell's novels but this one was without a doubt the WORST. It ready as angry, contentious, muddled, confusing and just plain bad. I could not stay engaged with the plot and I actually found myself distressed when reading it! Save your money...if you want a consistently good series, check out Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels! Much better!
Reviewer: Charlotte L
This book was so 'who cares' right from the start but I kept reading. It didn't get any better; I couldn't even finish it. I'm sorry to say it's been too long since I've read a good book from Patricia. I hoped this would be different.
Reviewer: Cathy S
Giving this book a 1 star rating is to good for it. I must have read all the Kay Scarpetta books, loved loved loved them. Wish I read these reviews before I spent the money. This book has so much boring and technical information I found myself skipping through most of it. Kay Scarpetta went from being a great character with determination, strength and self confidence to a whiny, unsure, suspicious, sad depressing woman. I had to actually say out loud a few time, "oh for the love of Pete, enough woman". If there are any more books coming out in the future I will not buy them, this book killed her for me. I felt like I entered the twilight zone. Don't waste your money or more valuable your time.