Book Review: Patricia Cornwell’s Port Mortuary

Posted February 26, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Patricia Cornwell’s Port Mortuary

Port Mortuary


Patricia Cornwell

forensic mystery, military that was published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on November 30, 2010 and has 496 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Cruel & Unusual, Red Mist, Bone Bed, Dust, Flesh and Blood, Depraved Heart, The Scarpetta Factor, Trace

Eighteenth in the Kay Scarpetta forensic mystery series revolving around a highly skilled and highly intelligent forensic pathologist.

My Take

There is a very staccato pace to the writing in Port Mortuary.

This was a fairly irritating book to read as her so-called friends and family don’t warn Kay of anything that is going wrong, but when they do suddenly descend upon her, they’re cryptic to the point of making me paranoid. What makes everything worse is a flashback that keeps recurring from the start of Kay’s career when, as Kay puts it, she was young and naive and participated in an illegal cover-up for the government, specifically for General Briggs. Kay is terrified that Briggs is setting her up again to take a fall, and it seems that her friends and family are participating.

When we finally get to Chapters 19 and 20, I feel like I’ve entered the Twilight Zone—I just know I’ve missed a huge chunk of the story as what is happening now is making no sense. Yes, I went back and carefully re-read earlier chapters to see where I MUST have skipped pages. Didn’t help.

From the way things are going, I was expecting Kay to kick Benton out, but it suddenly got all cute and cozy and Benton appears to be staying. Yes, I’m glad Benton is staying. No, I’m not happy with the jerky writing and the sudden erasure of the personal issues. I don’t understand why Kay didn’t call Benton, Lucy, or Marino on their abrupt and incomplete help.

I own just about the entire Kay Scarpetta series; I’ll add this one to my collection if someone gives it to me for free.

The Story

Kay is doing an extended (and extended) stint at a military autopsy facility using cutting edge technology to determine cause of death for our soldiers—and using it to improve our own weapons delivery systems while negating the enemies.

Unfortunately, major issues are going wrong back at the Cambridge Forensic Center which Kay was asked to head, just before she was pulled into the military training fellowship. And everyone—Benton, Lucy, Marino, and her second-in-command—have all kept her ignorant of what’s happening.

The Title

The title is the facility, the military Port Mortuary.