Review of Patricia Cornwell’s Latest Novel, Chaos

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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 has just recently added book #24, Chaos to the Kay Scarpetta series.


I have mixed feelings about Chaos. I struggled getting through the first third of the book because it seemed to me to be quite pretentious and downright boring. However, once I got past this stage, the forensics and analysis of the crime piqued my interest and reminded me of the good ‘ol days from the early Scarpetta novels.

Chaos begins with Kay Scarpetta strolling through Harvard yard on her way to have dinner with her FBI agent and forensic profiler husband, Benton Wesley, at the exclusive Harvard Faculty Club. I know that Patricia Cornwell is married to Harvard faculty member Staci Ann Gruber, so the Harvard campus and surrounding Cambridge would be quite familiar to her and writers often include places and things that they are familiar with in their fictional writing. So it is no surprise that Cornwell would want to include the Harvard campus in one of her novels. However, in this day and age when about half of the US population is put off by the so called ‘educated elite’, I felt this part of the book came off as being rather arrogant and untimely as Cornwell went to great lengths to describe the surrounding area and the prestige of Harvard and Scarpetta’s connection to it. Of course the typical ramblings between Marino, Lucy, Benton, and Scarpetta takes place to which many of the readers of the series have come to know.

So after a lengthy prologue, one finally gets introduced to the true criminal element of the novel and Scarpetta begins her investigation into the murder of a young women that she had briefly met not long before the victim’s untimely death. I felt, at this point, the novel did become more interesting which touched on the forensic science that had originally made the series popular. Though once again the plotline and the murder ends up focusing on the fantastic four, Lucy, Marino, Scarpetta and Benton, so there is nothing new to expect here.  

I feel that Cornwell needs a fresh outlook on the series, so I posted not long ago a poll suggesting that one of the fantastic four must go. The poll indicates, so far, that 56% of the readers like the series and don’t want it changed, but the other 44% do want to see one of the main characters take a hike, and Benton Wesley is their main choice. At this point there is not enough votes to consider the results to be statistically sound, so if you want to voice your opinion go to Fed Up With Kay Scarpetta? and place your vote.

To learn more about the series check out Patricia Cornwell’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta series.

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