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Trace [Mass Market Paperback]

Patricia Cornwell
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 3 2012 A Scarpetta Novel (Book 13)

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, now freelancing from south Florida, returns to the city that turned its back on her five years ago. Richmond, Virginia’s recently appointed chief medical examiner claims that he needs Scarpetta’s help to solve a perplexing crime. When she arrives, however, Scarpetta finds that nothing is as she expected: her former lab is in the final stages of demolition; the inept chief isn’t the one who requested her after all; her old assistant chief has developed personal problems that he won’t reveal; and a glamorous FBI agent, whom Scarpetta dislikes instantly, meddles with the case.

Deprived of assistance from colleagues Benton and Lucy, who are embroiled in what first appears to be an unrelated attempted rape by a stalker, Scarpetta is faced with investigating the death of a fourteen-year-old girl, working with the smallest pieces of evidence—traces that only the most thorough hunters can identify. She must follow the twisting leads and track the strange details in order to make the dead speak—and to reveal the sad truth that may be more than even she can bear…

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Cornwell's latest after the disappointing Blow Fly has indomitable medical examiner Kay Scarpetta returning to her office in Richmond five years after being fired. This homecoming will cheer fans: not only does the move put Scarpetta on her own turf, it reinvigorates Cornwell's storytelling, restoring some of the spunk lately lacking in her lead character. Dr. Joel Marcus, Scarpetta's replacement as Virginia's chief medical examiner, has summoned her back to help him puzzle through the mysterious death of a 14-year-old girl. Marcus is generally loathed: he's petty, inept, has a secret garbage-truck phobia and harbors an intense hatred for Scarpetta. Meanwhile, Scarpetta's niece Lucy, owner of a fabulously successful private-eye firm, has her own troubles trying to sort out who attempted to kill her friend Henri (short for Henrietta), who's now under psychiatric treatment by Scarpetta's lover in Aspen, Benton Wesley. Lurking in the background is Edgar Allan Pogue, a nutcase who has a thing for dead bodies and a grudge against Scarpetta. It's her job, as always, to connect all the puzzling forensic dots and identify the killer in time to save herself and her loved ones. She does this, mostly, but leaves the reader to puzzle out a few salient points on his or her own. Cumbersome backstory slows the action, but in general the old Scarpetta comes through, at least in the main, and this will be enough to reassure her many fans and carry them over until her next appearance. BOMC, Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selection.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Against advice from her niece Lucy, Kay Scarpetta answers a request to return to the Richmond medical examiner's office, the same office from which she was fired, to help with the sensitive case of a dead teen. When she and Pete Marino arrive, they find the new medical examiner to be a vituperative, uncooperative martinet and the office that Kay ran so efficiently in chaos. Two murders, oddly linked, demand their attention. In the meantime, Lucy, still unsettled despite her success with the Last Precinct investigative agency, is having personal problems (there's been an attack on her housemate), which strangely enough find her treading the same path as her aunt Kay. Traces of the smart, dynamic, yet vulnerable Scarpetta of the early novels are in evidence here, and Cornwell has better control of her plot and characters than in her last few efforts, faltering only occasionally when psychobabble weighs things down. The mystery is intriguing, there's plenty of forensic detail, and the ending, though perhaps too abrupt, opens the way for Scarpetta and her associates to proceed in any direction that calls to them. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Her books still sell??? Feb. 26 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The reviews of Trace on, over three-hundred of them, are much poorer than the nine or so here. I thoroughly agree with the reviewers. Cornwell started downhill with Isle of Dogs, a terrible book. After that I only read Blowfly, to give her another chance. I thought Blowfly was nearly as bad. I bought Trace just on spec, expecting little...and got less. Everybody in the book is unreasonably angry, the sub-plots drag on, Benton risks his relation with Kay to work with a totally uninteresting woman (Lucy's ex-lover) and his efforts come to nothing. Marino magically gets the baddie in the end, though it's unclear how. And the baddie is a most unbelievable wacko. A lot of fuss is made over trace elements found at two crime scenes and no real resolution is ever given. A construction worker may or may not have been murdered...who knows and who cares. A most unlikeable Dr. Marcus is introduced, with a weird hang-up, and then dropped. When I finally finished the book, doggedly working through it in case it got better, my question was: Why did I bother? Terrible book.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious, Needlessly Convoluted and Sophomoric July 15 2006
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Trace is well named. It has a trace of the good characteristics of the early Scarpetta novels . . . and the trace is indeed hard to find underneath an unkempt undergrowth of character and plot developments left over from prior books and compounded here with new, needless alley ways about mentally bizarre characters. A medical examiner is definitely needed to uncover the trace of the qualities that once made this a compelling and enjoyable series.

A few years ago I decided I wouldn't read any more Scarpetta novels. They were just too angry, too gross and too ridiculous in their plots involving off-beat characters who want to "get" Scarpetta for various sick reasons. I often felt like I was reading about the frustration dreams of a paranoid person . . . and I didn't enjoy it.

Trace sounded less intense . . . so I gave it a try. The good news is that the story is more entertaining than the ones that drove me away. The bad news is that the aftertaste of those stories lingers on to mar the characters and plot line here.

Scarpetta, Benson, Lucy and Marino want to be with one another . . . but they are so devoted to keeping secrets from one another . . . that they spend the maximum time apart. It's a curious way to run a novel.

A partial reunion occurs when Scarpetta is asked to consult on a mysterious death of a 14-year-old girl and Marino returns with her to Richmond where she was embarrassed and harassed by a former governor five years earlier. The old ME shop has never been in worse shape, and you will find out why in greater detail than you really want to know.

Naturally, Scarpetta figures out the cause of death within minutes of beginning her examination.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Better than 'Blow Fly' Oct. 18 2004
I enjoyed this book so much more than BLOW FLY. Kay Scarpetta returns to Richmond after five years, and the pick-back-up idea is both refreshing and evidently invigorating to not only readers, but Scarpetta as well. She seems to have gotten a second (fifth? sixth?) wind and boy, does it show! The plot centers around the mysterious death of a fourteen-year-old and Scarpetta is there to help out Marcus--the completely inept replacement for her while she was gone. He's one of the best characters she's written, incorporating every evil, stupid, and loathsome boss that's ever existed. Can you relate? I know I can. There's even a character named Edgar Allan Pogue to round out the cast of this wonderful book. Do yourself a favor and buy it . . .now!
I would also recommend two very different books which I enjoyed. The first is THE PIANO TEACHER--a little racy and disturbing, and the second is THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD--also disturbing but VERY funny and well written. All are great.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT good at all Dec 16 2004
I only gave this book two stars because I am very loyal to this author. Unfortunately, this book is horrible. Blowfly was REALLY bad. This one is also bad, not as much but... I read the other reviews and I believe the book was given okay reviews because the previous book was so awful that this one seems good compared to it! I am so sad that P. Cornwell is continuing to murder the characters that we love so much. I can't stand this anymore and I don't think I will be buying her other books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Trace review Oct. 15 2004
My first Cornwall book definitely won't be my last. Great character, and great style. Kay Scarpetta finally returns to her old job in Richmond, five years later and this is the perfect set up for Cornwall's tale of intrigue. She's been summoned by Dr. Marcus to help him sift through a murder of a fourteen-year-old girl. The rest, well, you'll have to read the book!
Would also recommend something completely different but equally great: THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD by McCrae
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointed is not enough of a word July 26 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Once again, after reading Blowfly...I had to force myself to read this incredibly boring book. I kept reading, looking for the "punch lines" or the meat of the book. unfortunately, with the ending of the book...there just wasn't one. You had to add your own theory between Scarpetta..Benton..Lucy..and Henri. Talk about no meat. Where was the story?? Why did Henri even go and stay with Benton? What was the sense if Benton and everyone involved knew she was lying? What the hell was Lucy hiding from Scarpetta after everything her and Lucy had been through in the past? I hate it when I read a book, and I am pissed off at the end that I wasted my time. Sorry Ms. Cornwell, but this is the last book that you will suck me into buying. I don't know if your editor is pushing you or not, but I would think that you are professional enough, and have pride in your own writing that this would not be the case.
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