Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell

After the heart-breaking disappointment of From Potter’s Field (Kay Scarpetta #6) by Patricia Cornwell, I thought I had finally reached that stage in the series when the pop-corn quality of the stories turned unbearable, and unreadable. However, Mr.B&R had given me the two next titles on the series, and I decided to give Cause of Death (Kay Scarpetta #7) a try after a disastrous start of the year that left me needing some autopsies, and some pop-corn reading.

Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell

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Cause of Death takes Doctor Kay Scarpetta to the Southern, Virginia setting where we first met her. I was really glad to see her back to a place where she feels she belongs in, and where she has quite a lot of power. However, despite being Virginia’s chief medical examiner, Cause of Death explores the many ways in which the masculine institutions Scarpetta deals with can, and actually do, discriminate against women. When she first approaches the scene of the crime she is stopped by a young policeman, and she has to prove him she really is who she says. When she finally arrives, she sees herself caught on a jurisdictional war between the Navy and the Chesapeake police department, none of which accept her authority. Later on, she is even sexually harassed by a young policeman who would later claim that desperate, middle-aged Kay actually tried to hit on him. So, if there is a novel in the series that explores gender, age and authority prejudices this is it.

The crime was also very interesting, and I could not glimpse the outcome at any moment. On New Year’s Eve an investigating reporter is found dead at the Inactive Naval Ship Yard in Chesapeake. Scarpetta is there covering for a colleague on leave, when she received a very early call about a fatality, but a later call will prove that no one from the police department had notified her before. So ,who did? Because I do not want to give away anything, I can only say that Cause of Death is quite a political crime novel, where Cornwell’s moderate Republican ideals come through. However, I have to add that she presents them in a very respectful way, and despite my not agreeing to some of these political beliefs, I never felt uncomfortable.

So, yes, I would recommend any reader of the Kay Scarpetta series to keep reading even though From Potter’s Field is not that good. Cause of Death is, and Cornwell brings back the powerful, resolute, and inspiring Kay that we love.

5 thoughts on “Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell

  1. That’s the thing with series you love though. You give it another chance after a book which has been less than stellar. Sometimes the author recovers his/her mojo. I think it’s probably publishers’ pressure to produce a new book every year or so, which sometimes leads to less inspired sequels, more colour-by-numbers. There are very few series which escape this fate.

    1. Now that I’ve read and loved Cause of Death, I agree with you, but I found myself so sad after reading From Potter’s Field, that I thought I would never ever again pick up a Scarpetta book.

      And you’re right. Conrwell produces a book a year, and she is also writing about Jack The Ripper.

      Are you a fan of Kay Scarpetta? Or any other forensic series that you think I should read?

  2. I completely agree! I was also put off by From Potter’s Field, but Cause of Death was a bounce-back for me as well. Funny thing about Patricia Cornwell is that’s happened a few times during the series, and yet I always end up coming back for more… Something has got to be said for that, eh? 🙂

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