Book Review: Patricia Cornwell’s Flesh and Blood

Posted February 3, 2015 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 Flesh and Blood

Flesh and Blood


Patricia Cornwell

forensic mystery that was published by William Morrow on November 11, 2014 and has 369 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

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

Twenty-second in the Kay Scarpetta forensic mystery series and revolving around a forensics center director and the people she considers family.

My Take

Cornwell uses a first-person point-of-view, Kay’s, to tell the story, and again, it’s lacking emotion. It’s all tell with a whole heckuva lot of whining on Kay’s part. It’s annoying. Readers fascinated by bullet loads, power, distance, etc., however, will love Flesh and Blood. Most of the forensics, in fact, is about the bullets used and how they’re loaded, the rest emphasises Kay and her relationships with Benton, Lucy, and Pete. Actually, the only character I enjoyed in this is Jack Kuster. There is a nice bit in here about Kay and her memories of her dad and his store. I also liked the description of Le Morte Café.

Seems Benton’s changed. The damage he suffered from Granby in Dust, 21, has caused Benton to be more self-indulgent.

What is Kay’s problem with making nice to her staff? How long would it take to eat a cannoli? Then she wonders why Pete tells her she’s cold and standoffish?? Duh. And Marino is irritating me too. He is so insecure. Actually, they’re a good match as Kay is being insecure too. I don’t understand why she puts up with her mother either.

I have a slew of niggles:
Cornwell never resolves the pennies. Why is Joanna calling for Jamal in the house and asking what happened to him when Machado already told her? Cornwell never explains what happened in Nari’s apartment, if it was Machado or why he would have been cleaning up in there. How does Bloom know so much about Kay’s personal life? Why would Benton not be cynical anymore? It would make more sense if he were more cynical. Leo’s situation is never resolved. Considering what happened a day or so ago, I can’t believe the pool isn’t one of the first places checked.

Why is Kay so het up about Pete’s reactions to how Machado is acting, er, being eased out? I don’t understand why Lucy, Pete, and Benton are so busy keeping Kay out of everything. What’s the point? Is this Cornwell’s idea of tension and drama? Cornwell is also working really hard to frame Lucy, and yet there are lots of alibis that prevent the frame-up from working. Including Lucy.

I love Pete’s threats to Sapp. She so deserves this! As for Bloom’s actions. He’s a jerk, a major jerk, but then again, Nari should have been a lot smarter. And, then again, it sounds as if it’s our “justice system” that’s sent him down this path. There is no justice for the average person. It also seem as if the government and the agencies that are supposed to be looking out for us, you know, we the people, are more interested in feathering their own nests.

If Lucy is a sociopath, how is it that she gets emotional about people? How is it that she feels and wants to protect? And why is it I feel as if Benton is purposely trying to lead Kay astray? Then there’s their dive trip. How could they possibly ignore those drift divers? With their experience and what they’ve learned about Carrie? C’mon…

There are some nasty lessons in this one: don’t help the cops beyond the obvious lest they decide you must be guilty and don’t count on your insurance company.

Again, this installment is more useful in terms of keeping up with events in the core characters’ lives. I spent more time hoping to read something interesting in the plot, and I ended up unexcited about the story with all these irritating characters. I’m kind of wondering if this is more of a bridge story, but I suspect I’m reaching. Hoping.

The Story

Kay and Benton are heading out in a few hours for a vacation in Florida. Until a controversial person-of-interest in Kay’s past turns up dead. Public relations-wise, it has to be Kay doing the autopsy, and it turns into a very personal investigation with a psychopath stalking Kay and her loved ones.

The Characters

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a.k.a., Dr. Death, and an Air Force special reservist, is extremely intelligent with strong capabilities in a number of areas including medicine, forensics, and law. She’s also the director for the Cambridge Forensics Center (CFC) in Boston and does some work for the feds. She’s married to Benton Wesley, an FBI profiler who survived his corrupt boss in Dust. Sock is her rescue greyhound and Lucy Farinelli, her techno-genius, multi-millionaire niece, and her partner, Janet, an environmental lawyer, are taking him while Kay and Benton are on vacation. Jet Ranger is Lucy and Janet’s bulldog. Seven-year-old Desi, the son of Janet’s sister, Natalie, is a difficult decision to make for some. Dorothy is Kay’s “self-absorbed…, narcissistic male-addicted” sister, “who’s guilty of criminally neglecting her only child”. Grans, Kay and Dorothy’s mother, is an idiot who doesn’t believe Dorothy can do any wrong.

Cambridge Forensics Center
Dr. Luke Zenner is Kay’s deputy chief and another pathologist. Jen Garate has replaced Marino as the CFC investigator, and it’s a mistake. Bryce Clark is Kay’s too-chatty chief of staff. Rusty and Harold are the transport team. Liz Wrighton is a firearms examiner in deep trouble. Georgia Cruz is a new security guard with an interest in Lucy. Anne, the radiologic expert, is dating Luke. Alex Delgado is the forensic anthropologist. Ernie Koppel is the cowboy from Texas who is the most senior microscopist and trace evidence examiner. Kay likes him because he’s so thorough.

Michael Orland was a plumber who died and his Twitter account, Copperhead, has been hijacked.

Josh and Diego Bean run Bean Mortuary Services, an ambulance service for the dead.

Cambridge PD
Detective Pete Marino no longer works for Kay; he’s partnered up with Sil Machado these days. Quincy, Marino’s “service” dog, gets a mention but doesn’t show up. Officer T.J. Hardy is trying to handle the scene at Nari’s. Gerry Everman is the police commissioner with an in with Benton.

Officer Collier died because the FBI chose not to share information.

Morriston, New Jersey PD
Jack Kuster is the lead investigator and a master forensic firearms instructor with some great insight on Kay. He’s also a friend of Pete’s.

Marblehead PD
Investigator Joe Henderson is doing Kay a favor, and Detective Sergeant Freedman isn’t very friendly.

Boston FBI
Marty is the new Special-Agent-in-Charge.

Broward County, Florida
Dr. Abe Raine is medical examiner and a former quarterback for Notre Dame.

Jamal Nari was an FBI victim; now, he’s dead. Joanna Cather is his wife and a psychologist with problems at Emerson Academy. Emerson is also the school Nari is suing. Leo Gantz is a troubled teen Cather has been counseling. Angelina Brown was a neighbor. Mary Sapp is a realtor with few morals. Sarah Angiers is Doctor John L. Angiers‘ widow. Julie Eastman was the daughter of Beth Eastman, an old girlfriend of Pete’s. Patty Marisco was a realtor who was murdered. Gracie Smithers is fourteen-year-old accidental drowning victim, Dr. Shina Kato thinks. Dick Segal only appeared to be a suicide five years ago; his father, Jack, though is still furious. Well, he would be if he hadn’t been shot. Artur Ruiz was a construction worker.

TBP Insurers is…
…a big and nasty insurance company that prefers to use intimidation to force their clients to back off on claims. They want their clients’ money, and they don’t want to pay it out. Rand Bloom is one of their investigators. He used to be with the Justice Department before he was booted out. Clayton Phillip Schmidt lives in Springfield and owns a gray pickup.

General John Briggs is Kay’s ultimate boss with the Air Force. Ruthie is his worried wife.

Congressman Bob Rosado of Florida was a real estate developer before he ran for office. Elaine is his wife who bought the very expensive PGF 300 Win Mag and its pretty jewelry-like bullets. His son, Troy, sounds like he’s a psychopath with parents who buy him out of trouble. The congressman’s Massachusetts real estate company is Gordian Knot Estates. Sasha Sarin appears to be his crisis manager.

Carrie Grethen was Lucy’s mentor at the FBI all those years ago. She’s also a psychopath who has been working for Russia for the past ten or so years after she escaped the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center. Newton Joyce had been her partner.

The Cover and Title

The cover is reds. A deep, deep black red is the background with folds of red chiffon stretched and folded forming a blaze of “light” for the embossed text. The author’s name is an iridescent light blue while red is used for the title and series info.

I’m guessing that the title is about family, Flesh and Blood, and all the plots revolving around them.