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By Patricia Cornwell

Trace marks the return of Kay Scarpetta, former Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia and one of the strongest female characters in American popular fiction. Of course, I wanted to like this book.

Let me say that unlike many Cornwell fans, I didn’t hate it. The feel is so familiar – the same grotesque crime scenes, the same twisted bad guy, the same . . . well . . . .I almost said the same Scarpetta and Marino, but that’s not true. Part of the problem with this book is that Scarpetta and Marino feel emasculated. Where is their strength? Where is their dedication, their kick-butt attitude? It’s lukewarm. It’s retiring. It’s uninspiring.

This may be due in part to the fact that the book has too many lead characters – Scarpetta, Marino, Scarpetta’s niece Lucy, Scarpetta’s lover Benton, the new medical examiner, the bad guy – nobody gets enough face time. But the thing that really killed it for me was the ending. What was that?

Scarpetta fans will read it just to feel close to the memories of the great Scarpetta novels of earlier days, but it will disappoint you. Patricia Cornwell’s latest bestseller in hardback is Trace. On the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio 1160, I’m Amanda Dickson.

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