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The Last Precinct: Scarpetta (Book 11) (The Scarpetta Series) Kindle Edition

3 out of 5 stars 366 customer reviews

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Length: 476 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled


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Patricia Cornwell's legendary crime fiction creation, Virginia's Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, has logged a host of fans among mystery readers and, within the bounds of her fictional world, an equally impressive tally of individuals intent on causing her grievous physical or psychological harm.

The 11th Scarpetta novel, The Last Precinct, doesn't add any new names to the second roster. Instead, in a sweeping narrative gesture toward retrospection (less-than-fervent fans might whisper "or stagnation"), the novel depends largely on ground already covered in its predecessors, Black Notice and, to a lesser extent, Point of Origin. All the familiar faces--friend and foe--are here: police captain Marino, Kay's niece Lucy, the so-called Werewolf murderer, and (in memoriam) Kay's lover Benton Wesley and his killer, Carrie Grethen. Kay, who nearly killed the Werewolf in self-defense as Black Notice came to a close, now finds herself the target of a corrupt police investigation that will dredge her darkest secrets from the deepest corners of her past.

Torn between a desire to clear her name and the instinct of a wounded animal to turn against even its would-be rescuers, Kay sifts through the forensic evidence that seems to link Chandonne to other horrific events in her past, up to and including Wesley's murder. Physical analysis, however, will not be enough to right her up-ended world. Instead, Kay must rely on the strategic support of her niece, cofounder of the Last Precinct (an odd, ill-defined organization that is, in the words of its motto, "where you go when there is nowhere left"), and on her willingness to examine her own fears, misconceptions, and anything-but-altruistic motives. The most important setting in this novel is not the morgue--it's the living room where Kay's therapist forces her to address (you guessed it) "unresolved issues."

The novel's focus on Kay's emotional evolution does not, unfortunately, mask the leaps of illogic that pepper the plot's murky stew. More disturbing than these occasional lapses, however, is the feeling that Cornwell has written herself into a corner. The Scarpetta of The Last Precinct is a far cry from the irritably independent woman of previous books. Her often over-inflated musings are more tiresome than tantalizing. Cornwell's impressive track record makes this excursion a bit disappointing, but that same record means that loyal fans will race to acquire the book anyway and that the odds of her returning to her usual stellar form next time are (hurrah!) favorable. --Kelly Flynn

From Publishers Weekly

"My central nervous system spikes and surges, my pulse pounds. I am sweating.... " If only readers would share this response with Cornwell's immensely popular Kay Scarpetta, Virginia's chief medical examiner. But most won't. Kay has plenty of reason to be upset. She's standing in a room in a shabby motel where a body has been found, severely tortured. She's under official suspicion of having murdered maleficent ?ber-cop Diane Bray (in Kay's last outing, Black Notice). She's suspected of trumping up charges against accused serial killer Jean-Baptiste Chandonne, also introduced in Black Notice. She's reeling from the aftershock of Chandonne's murderous attack on her; she mightily misses her slain FBI agent/lover Dan Belson; she's learned that her gay niece, Lucy, is quitting law enforcement for a private PI firm called the Last PrecinctAand it's Christmas time. Kay has a lot of support in the midst of this law-and-disorder soap opera, from, among others, Lucy, tough cop/sidekick Pete Marino and Kay's aged friend, psychiatrist Anna ZennerAand that's part of the problem with this novel. Excessive emoting and way too much talk (including long therapeutic sessions between Kay and Anna) derail momentum time and again; the pages feel soggy with tears. Cornwell does provide intense intrigue, but it's a strain to follow as she connects events and loose ends from several novels. Within this narrative swamp, there's one new and very memorable gator, thoughANew York prosecutor Jaime Berger, obviously modeled on real-life ADA (and novelist) Linda Fairstein, to whom Cornwell dedicates the novel; she's sharply drawn and charismatic. Cornwell will win few if any new fans with this overlong, sluggish offering, but her giant readership is so hardcore and so enamored of Kay that the publisher's first printing of one million seems, if anything, conservative. $800,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections; national satellite tour; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Germany, Italy, France, Holland, Japan, Finland, Turkey and Spain. (One-day laydown, Oct. 16)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1309 KB
  • Print Length: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (July 1 2001)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group USA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001VFTYWI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 366 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,665 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
What a gigantic waste of time. The story isn't compelling; the plot doesn't resolve itself with clarity; the characters are shallow and unlikable.
To make matters worse, the author portrays every male as sex-crazed, inherently evil, and shallow. Even the main character's male side kick is described as fat, slovenly, and shifty.
The only surprise in this crime/mystery is that I actually finished it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Writing with golden handcuffs must be hard.
Long after the author has tired of the characters, the publisher demands more books featuring them.
Result: The bored writer's characters get edgier, angrier, more darkly introspective. And the plots get uglier, sillier, less well-crafted. And downright sloppy.
Examples:
• The protagonist, a lawyer, and the novel's thoughtful, first-person narrator, is suspected of a heinous murder. She believes she has been set-up by powerful forces. And never even thinks for one moment of consulting with or obtaining defense counsel.
• Another major character, a career government employee, mentions -- in an off-handed, "oh by the way" way, to her surrogate mother that she easily became a millionaire a while back. Must have slipped her mind.
• The dramatic climax is instantly and incredulously resolved. In an error worthy of a wannabe novelist, the reader is only *told* that the protagonists survived certain death. The miraculous, death-defying feat is accomplished through unseen heroics.
Worse, we're expected to believe it's via by a cop on administrative leave who is inexplicably wearing body armor, thus avoiding a fatal, point blank shotgun blast. The tremendous body blow aside, she manages to miraculously overpower her captor.
Then there's the uncharacteristic cowardly turn of tail by the strong, macho and sadistic villain who simply runs from the scene without even a little skirmish.
We learn the sketchiest of details about all this in a most unsatisfactory, quick and dirty, summary fashion. The FedEx guy must have been waiting at the door to pick up the overdue manuscript.
Once upon a time, Patricia Cornwell created a most likable and intriguing character in Dr. Kay Scarpetta.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is the darkest Kay Scarpetta book yet, and although it is not one of my favourites in the series, it is a very important one for all Kay Scarpetta fans. Not only are unresolved issues from the previous book brought to conclusion, it is also the book where Kay has to face her enemies on all fronts, and in her most vulnerable state. Not only that it's the book where Kay has to face the death of her lover Benton. Why was Benton killed, and why does it seem to be linked with the latest grizzly murders commited by the French "werewolf"? We also see character development in Kay's supporting cast. Marino, Lucy and Kay's friend Anna. Kay has powerful enemies, and they almost succeed in getting her discredited and charged with the murder of the woman that was killed in the previous book - the beautiful, haughty and crooked Dianne Bray. But Kay also has loyal and inteligent friends and they, along with a brillian District Attorney, help her overcome this conspiracy. No one can do a full scale conspiracy like Patricia Cornwell.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is the darkest Kay Scarpetta book yet, and although it is not one of my favourites in the series, it is a very important one for all Kay Scarpetta fans. Not only are unresolved issues from the previous book brought to conclusion, it is also the book where Kay has to face her enemies on all fronts, and in her most vulnerable state. Not only that it's the book where Kay has to face the death of her lover Benton. Why was Benton killed, and why does it seem to be linked with the latest grizzly murders commited by the French "werewolf"? We also see character development in Kay's supporting cast. Marino, Lucy and Kay's friend Anna. Kay has powerful enemies, and they almost succeed in getting her discredited and charged with the murder of the woman that was killed in the previous book - the beautiful, haughty and crooked Dianne Bray. But Kay also has loyal and inteligent friends and they, along with a brillian District Attorney, help her overcome this conspiracy. No one can do a full scale conspiracy like Patricia Cornwell.
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I've had a complicated relationship with Cornwell. I think her first four or five novels are just great suspense thrillers. But her Scarpetta series became increasingly bleak and tortured and I gave up on them after Point of Origin, which seemed to be chock-full of obtrusive personal mannerisms, and didn't even bother to read Black Notice. Someone gave me The Last Precinct and I only started reading it because I was bored -- and almost put it down after the dreary first 100 pages.
But around 125 pages in, Cornwell stops concentrating on Scarpetta's damaged psyche -- some of the criticisms here of the psychologizing are valid -- and resumes doing what she does best, deftly-plotted forensic mysteries. The book came alive and was incredily suspensful after that point. I made the mistake of reading it when I was alone at home and was often so afraid I couldn't move. Cornwell has the unique ability to absolutely jolt one upright with surprising plot developments. Last Precinct has several such moments and the plot hangs together in a very believable, if dark way. This is a superb thriller and I heartily recommend it. It's also clearly part of a series - Blowfly, her next book, continues the story.
So I highly recommend this book. One piece of advice: Cornwell more than any other suspense writer needs to be read in sequence. If you are thinking of reading a Cornwell, start with her excellent first novel Postmortem and read them in order of publication. Last Precinct is not comprehensible to those who don't know Point of Origin, although I didn't read Black Notice (Last Precinct starts minutes after the dramatic conclusion of Black Notice).
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