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At Risk [Mass Market Paperback]

Patricia Cornwell
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 3 2007 Win Garano (Book 1)

A Massachusetts state investigator is called home from Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is completing a course at the National Forensic Academy. His boss, the district attorney, attractive but hard-charging, is planning to run for governor, and as a showcase she's planning to use a new crime initiative called At Risk-its motto: "Any crime, any time." In particular, she's been looking for a way to employ cutting-edge DNA technology, and she thinks she's found the perfect subject in an unsolved twenty-year-old murder-in Tennessee. If her office solves the case, it ought to make them all look pretty good, right?

Her investigator is not so sure-not sure about anything to do with this woman, really-but before he can open his mouth, a shocking piece of violence intervenes, an act that shakes up not only both their lives but the lives of everyone around them. It's not a random event. Is it personal? Is it professional? Whatever it is, the implications are very, very bad indeed . . . and they're about to get much worse.

Sparks fly, traps spring, twists abound-this is the master working at the top of her game.

View the trailer for "Patricia Cornwell's At Risk", premiering on Lifetime on April 10, 2010.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Cornwell's latest-a stand-alone thriller that was originally serialized in the New York Times Magazine-is likely to disappoint even diehard fans of her bestselling Kay Scarpetta novels (The Body Farm, etc.). This time, the action is set in Boston, where an attractive and ambitious DA, Monique Lamont, seeks to use a new anticrime initiative to propel herself into the governor's mansion. Lamont plucks her top investigator, Winston Garano, from a special forensics course to probe an obscure cold case, but the detective's inquiries suggest that his boss may be playing a duplicitous game. The writing, pacing, characterizations and plot are far from Cornwell's best work, and the solution to the old murder mystery is anticlimactic.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


'This sparky novella-length work... is read with aplomb by Kate Reading. There are two great characters, crackling with suppressed chemistry' Sunday Times 'Kate Reading's telling of AT RISK keeps the listener hooked from the start' Waterstone's Books Quarterly 'The pace is cracking.' DAILY MIRROR 'This book is just as exciting as one of the author's Scarpetta thrillers and is thrilling from start to finish.' THE LADY 'Another Patricia Cornwell appears, and it's a pretty safe bet that At Risk will storm its way to the top of the best-selling charts. Cornwell has been at the top of the American crime writing tree for so long now that her position is virtually unassailable--even when she produces the odd misfire (which he has been known to do). Fortunately, At Risk can be counted among her successes, though its brevity may disappoint some. The book is based on a recent story of the same name serialised in The New York Times, but those hoping for the return of Cornwell's resourceful forensic specialist Dr Kay Scarpetta will have to wait a little longer, as Cornwell introduces a new central character in this book. Having inhabited the mind of a female protagonist for so long, the author has felt the need to move into very different territory with a charismatic male police investigator at the centre of the narrative. The book takes the reader from the cool climes of Cambridge, Massachusetts to the overbearing heat of Knoxville Tennessee. Win Garano is handed a tricky assignment: he is to investigate a murder case that is over two decades old. District Attorney Monique Lamont isn't concerned about the difficulties of the case, though--she simply wants results for personal reasons. Win is convinced that he has been saddled with a very low priority case, but quickly finds that there is much more to this twenty-year-old mystery than he thought. As some very dangerous secrets are uncovered, Win finds himself dealing with both the consequences of his investigation and the remarkable ambitiousness of Monique Lamont as he pursues a political grand prize. In the past, when Cornwell has moved away from the safe territory of the Kay Scarpetta novels, she has slightly alienated her dedicated fan base. But she is absolutely right to take chances like this in order to freshen her literary inspiration, and this fast-moving piece is a laudable effort, even if it comes in at a rather shortish page count.' - Barry Forshaw, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW 'In her latest thriller, At Risk, she has returned to what she does best . . .' INDEPENDENT --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
While Alexander McCall Smith has shown ample ability to write serialized novels (44 Scotland Street and Espresso Tales), At Risk by Patricia Cornwell proves that it's harder than it looks. My advice to Ms. Cornwell is to either give up turning her serials into novels or to stop writing serials altogether. This book is a mess. Most novels start with an interesting premise: At Risk doesn't even have that going for it.

If you feel you have to read At Risk, go to the library for a copy. You won't want to own this book: Trust me.

What's the best thing about At Risk? It's brief. Otherwise, I would have graded it at one star.

Winston (Win) Garano, a Massachusetts State Police investigator, has been in Tennessee taking a course at the National Forensics Academy. Why? He can't figure it out because the state already has a CSI unit, but his boss insisted. That same boss, District Attorney Monique Lamont, has just called him back on an emergency basis. After waiting dripping from the rain in the Harvard Faculty Club for 45 minutes, the DA finally arrives and tells Win to get cracking on solving a cold case in Tennessee using the crime lab in Massachusetts. Win can't believe his ears, and he's even more surprised to learn that the DA has already announced her plans in the press. What is she, some kind of moron? He knows she's politically ambitious, but this path offers little possibility of gain in that direction.

From there, everything begins to unravel, and explained mysteries pile up on top of curiosities. Win, the intelligent superman who can't pass a test, has to hold the whole ball of wax together while the heat is on with little assistance.

If that introduction intrigues you, go ahead and read the book.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Huh? Nov. 11 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I agree with the 1st poster. I only finished this book because it was short. I liken it to ripping off a band-aid. It was painful but quick. I tried hard to understand the plotline and hoped that it would all make sense in the end. Maybe it did to the Author. I actually stopped trying to put all the strings together in the last quarter of the book and just plowed through it, hoping a grand revelation would tie them all up. I couldn't be bothered to try and figure out what was happenning after awhile. The ending was very anti-climactic as well.
Luckily I got this book for free, but it still cost my time. I have another of her books and I might give her another chance after the bad taste of 'at risk' wanes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fast but good July 9 2014
By Anakina
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I admit I was sceptical about this short novel by Cornwell, being very short, but I had to change my mind. Dear Patricia in this little gem of hers shows her great ability to use the synthesis without depleting the story. She just narrates the basic features, without frills and without being long-winded, giving rise to a compelling story that you do not get bored of and that pushes you to get to the end as soon as possible.
The only downside to this type of work, halfway between a novel and a novella, is the fact that they often have exorbitant prices for something that, having the time, you read in a few hours. Fortunately, there are flea markets.
In any case, it is an reading that I would recommend to lovers of thrillers and beyond. It's a story that everyone can really like, but do not get distracted in reading, because, given the brevity, you should not skip even a comma, otherwise you may miss something important. This latter aspect is actually typical of all the novels by Cornwell, especially in the final parts, often very hastier than the rest. In this case, however, since the entire novel is very short, the whole is much more balanced.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good Read Oct. 14 2014
By Angie
Great series!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1.9 out of 5 stars  270 reviews
370 of 382 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars At Risk is Right! May 23 2006
By BeachBum - Published on
I don't usually write negative reviews even when I don't like a particular book. But in this case, I have to make an exception. As usual, I rushed out to get At Risk just as soon as the local bookstore opened with it (sorry about that the case of Cornwell books, I usually just can't wait!). Finished it in a couple of hours and felt like throwing it against the wall.

It's a real stretch to believe that the same person who wrote Cruel and Unusual, The Body Farm, From Potter's Field and Unnatural Exposure could have written this book. The dust jacket says it was originally written as a fifteen-part serial for a magazine, and it shows. Very little plot continuity with disjointed leaps all over the place; little, if any, meaningful character development; even the usual sterling scientific minutiae we've come to expect from a Cornwell book is superficial and mostly unexplained.

I have been a loyal fan of Cornwell's since I first stumbled across Postmortem. I even enjoyed her efforts in the Andy Brazil series that most everyone else hated. But in all honesty, At Risk seems like she felt obligated to get another book out in a hurry and just threw this one together. The dust jacket says "...this is the master working at the top of her game." If this is the top of Cornwell's game she's at risk of losing her legions of fans.

Not worth the time or money, folks.
148 of 151 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars At Risk... of losing her fans? May 28 2006
By R S Cobblestone - Published on
At Risk is an interesting novel. It is much shorter than Patricia Cornwell's previous books, with new characters within the medical examiner/police framework. However, in this case, the mystery story is weak, the characters forgettable, and the motivations and plot are, frankly, unclear. It seems as if this is the prelude for a deeper, richer story, not a complete story in itself. The wordsmithing isn't quite up to my expectations of her standard work. All in all, this book reads like a rush job, an editorial demand that a book, whether ready or not, had to come out prior to the start of the summer reading season.

I'm not the biggest fan of Patricia Cornwell's more recent work. Body Farm, to me, was her best book. Since Body Farm, the characters in her books (and their behaviors) are getting more bizarre, as are the crimes.

Let's hope Cornwell's stories improve at the same rate our crime-fighting technologies advance.... quickly. This book needs to go back into the incubator... it's not ready to hatch.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mean-spirited and negative June 22 2006
By Library Lady - Published on
Having worked at a library for more years than I care to tell, I have seen Cornwell's novels consistently snatched from the shelves the moment they arrived. She has been on my "to read" list for ages and this book seemed like a good way to get acquainted with her work.

However, after reading about two-thirds of the book, I couldn't take any more. Nobody likes anybody. Heck, they don't even like themselves! Now, I'm no Pollyanna, but shouldn't SOMEONE have SOME kind of positive interaction or relationship with SOMEBODY?

Don't get me wrong - any good tale needs tension and adversarial relationships, but an entire volume of insecure, mean-spirited internal dialogue is not my idea of a good read. I don't even care enough to finish the book.

I can't help thinking that this author must be better than this, or she wouldn't be so popular. Maybe once I get the taste of "At Risk" out of my mouth, I'll try one of her others.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Thank goodness for libraries! Aug. 25 2006
By Kimberly Duncan - Published on
I've been a huge fan of Ms Cornwell for a long time, and I have a hard time believing that the author who wrote the first nine Scarpetta books is the same person who wrote Blowfly, Trace, Predator, and now, At Risk. The last of Ms Cornwell's books that I actually purchased was Blowfly (big mistake!), and since then I will not spend a cent on one of her books until I've read a copy from the library. When I first read the jacket on At Risk, I was very surprised and pleased to see that it wasn't another Scarpetta novel - all her characters in that series had become much too bizzare, pathetic, or just plain unlikeable - and had great hopes that she had written something new and fresh. However, At Risk is no better (and probably worse in many ways) than her last three. It actually doesn't start out too badly (not brilliant, but the characters and plot have some potential), but then, just as the plot and suspense are rising, you start the next chapter and find out that the detectives have it all solved! The story has no rhythm, continuity, or logic to it. The last half of the book reads like it was thrown together in about an hour. Very disappointing. I'm still hoping that Ms Cornwell will write another wonderful thriller (particularly if she continues to concentrate on fresh material and forget about the Scarpetta series) - after all, that talent must still be in there somewhere! In the meantime, I won't waste my money and will be using my library card more.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Cornwell, did you just get dumped??????? June 4 2006
By Jason - Published on
First of all let me say that I loved Patricia Cornwell and the Scarpetta series was very addicting. I was very excited about this new book At Risk, well not anymore. I think she must have just been dumped or went through a tramatic time in her life for her to just dump her fans like this. From the moment I opened the "official" hardback which by the way is book club size, I was disgusted. The margins are so wide and the text is double spaced, I felt like I was about to read a third grader's Goosebumps book. That would have been okay had the book been about 750 pages. However, you just know if the publisher has to space it out just to make it 212 pages, this is not going to be good or have any suitable detail. Lukily I opened the book before wasting my money. I sat down at the book store and read the whole book in an hour and half. The conclusion: Cornwell- maybe someone needs to study your brain and figure out what went wrong with it like they did with the criminals in PREDATOR because something isn't working anymore up there!
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