Port Mortuary (Scarpetta #18) by Patricia Cornwell
Kay Scarpetta has spent nearly 6 months at Dover Air Force Base, helping to develop technology for cutting edge virtual autopsies, when she is unexpectedly called back to Boston’s Cambridge Forensic Center. A young man has been killed under mysterious circumstances, and Kay must find out why a simple stabbing seems to have caused so much internal damage. The strange doesn’t stop there, though. Her second in command, Jack Fielding, is missing, and his behavior has been even more erratic than usual, a little boy has been brutally murdered, and a college football star was also sadistically tortured and killed. Believe it or not, everything is connected, and Kay, her husband Benton, niece Lucy, and Pete Marino must get to the bottom of things before someone else dies.
I shamelessly admit to being a huge fan of this series, and there were a few recent books that I felt were misses more than hits. However, Ms. Cornwell seems to have returned to form somewhat in Port Mortuary. I prefer Scarpetta’s voice in these novels, and Port Mortuary delivers there, although my favorite ME is quite self-conscious and even more serious than usual. She’s never been what you would call light hearted, but she gets downright bitter at times. She’s usually too smart and self-possessed for that, but since this case is so personal, considering her history with Jack, I can understand it. Also, I admit that Pete Marino is probably one of the most insufferable, frustrating characters in this series, but he’s one of my favorites too. He’s deeply flawed, yet he’s a very good investigator, and he would lay down his life for Kay. Ms. Cornwell has a talent for bringing her characters to life, and Port Mortuary is no exception to that. She never fails to pull me into her narrative, with the fascinating technical aspects of forensic science, and I have to see what happens next. I’ll be moving right on to Red Mist, and I can’t wait for her new Scarpetta novel, The Bone Bed, out later this year!