The focus of my blog is to review book series and not individual novels, but writers are going to continue writing novels within a series even after I have done my review, so I plan on reviewing the individual novels as they come into circulation. Patricia Cornwell just recently added book #22, Flesh and Blood, to the Kay Scarpetta series.
Before I purchased my Kindle, I would always carry whatever novel that I am reading at the time in my book bag. I would always dread getting the latest Cornwell novel because they seem to get heavier and heavier with each successive novel. To show that I am not just imagining that her books are getting bigger, I have graphed the number of pages found in each first edition hardcover novel within the series versus their order of release and this is what I get:
As you can see from the graph there is a general upward trend in the number of pages in each successive novel in the series. I am mainly pointing this out because the quality of a Scarpetta novel seems to be inversely related to the number of pages that are in each novel which is illustrated in this graph:
(Ratings are based on the overall average from the 5 star rating system from Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Google Books)
Interestingly, if you take notice, the latest novel, Flesh and Blood, has a significant decrease in page numbers and I have a theory to why this is so. I think that this book was originally over 600 pages long and the publisher thought that there is no way that readers will want to read a book this long, so she was told to split the book into two parts with part I coming out now and part II coming out later. I say this because the ending seems to just happen very abruptly and with an unsettling cliff hanger which lends to the strong possibility that the next book will be a continuation of Flesh and Blood. So tune into the next book of the series and see if I am right.
So why is the number of pages going up with each new addition in the series? Is it because the content is getting more sophisticated and Cornwell needs more pages to get her point across? No, I don’t think so, it seems to me that Cornwell likes to ramble on about things that don’t have anything to do with the storyline, in other words ‘fluff’. For example, in the following excerpt, Scarpetta is on a diving expedition to search for evidence from a recent murder:
At ninety feet a large shape is a sea turtle on the rusty hull and a toadfish deflates its bladder, flattening on the brown silt bottom. An orange—striped triggerfish makes kissing movements with its mouth as it glides past, and I see a conch that looks exactly like a rock until it moves along like an old Winnebago.
A sea fan waves and I see a large gray grouper with spots, a sea bass, a broad-snouted shark that are the least bit interested in the two of us. A crowd of yellow angelfish swim close to my mask as if I’m part of the artificial reef, their round eyes cartoonish. A sea horse hovers. A venomous lionfish has fins that look like feathers, and I adjust my buoyancy with my breathing.
This excerpt sounds more like a sound bite for a show on Animal Planet than a police dive to recover evidence in a murder. Unfortunately there are many passages like this throughout the book and they are very distracting and to be honest, boring. Luckily for me, I got this book through a library loan, if I paid the original price of $28.99 for the hardcover version of this book, I would be pissed. I am afraid that this series has lost a lot of its appeal. I, as well as many other fans of Kay Scarpetta, keep hoping that a really good novel will come out, unfortunately I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.
To learn more about the series check out Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series.