Sunday, March 25, 2012

Review: Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell

Body of Evidence (Kay Scarpetta, #2)After months of menacing phone calls and a feeling that her every move is being watched, a terrifying message scratched into reclusive writer Beryl Madison's car forces her to flee. But the very night she returns home to Richmond, she deactivates her burglar alarm and opens the door -- to her murderer.

Body of Evidence is Patricia Cornwell's second novel and as I read it, it was clear to me that she's become more comfortable with writing, with her characters, and with Kay Scarpetta's world. Everything just flowed smoother, which of course made for a more enjoyable experience.
In this book we continue to learn more about Kay Scarpetta and see what motivated her to become a medical examiner. I really enjoy that she has her weaknesses but at the same time is the kind of person who knows what her strengths are and is prepared to hone them and use them. There are two things about Kay I find appealing, that got some page time in this novel. One is her view on firearms - she knows they can be dangerous, she sees exactly how much so every day, but she also knows how useful they can be and it is obvious that the gun she selected for herself was a deliberate choice. She may keep it in a box, under lock and key, but when it comes time to use it she's familiar enough and practiced enough to know what to do with it and not hesitate. Another is that she isn't afraid to bring people's double standards to their attention and not mince words as she does it. The freedom to do so may come with her post but at the same time not eveybody likes to ruffle feathers, especially with people who they work with on a regular basis and especially since hers is a world dominated by men and she is the only woman. I wonder only if she's acquired this habit as a way to assert herself and show that she can hold her own or if it's a natural trait. I guess chances are good that I'll find out as the series progresses.
Another thing I look forward to finding out as the series progresses is whether the pattern of the murderer being a random guy who happens upon the victim by chance will prove to be the formula for Cornwell's books. I'm trying to think right now of a mystery where the villain didn't have a traditional motive, so to speak, such as money, love, position, and I can't think of even one. There's always someone plotting to achieve something more or less tangible. Cornwell's villains are of a different sort and I'm wondering whether she kept going with what's obviously worked for her or if she'd introduced a murderer who calculates his (or her) moves ten in a advance, like some of her secondary characters do.
One more thing I'd like to mention has nothing to do with the book or Particia Cornwell, not to my knowledge anyway. Have you guys seen the ABC show Body of Proof with Dana Delaney as medical examiner Megan Hunt? I just can't shake the feeling that the whole show was inspired by Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series. Sure, Megan Hunt isn't a Chief ME and she has a child of her own, but there are just too many similarities. A sassy and smart ME? Check! A protective detective who's a bit rough around the edges, has a bald spot and marital troubles? Check! A precocious young girl who's not always in the picture but does lend a hand on occasion? Check! You see what I'm talking about. In any case, if the books did serve as inspiration for this series I'm glad they did because I tune in to watch Megan Hunt and the gang on a regular basis. As for the books, I look forward to reading the third novel in the volume and then I think I'll need to hunt down the rest.

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