So many years ago, when the world was much different than it is now, I read Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell and was so thrilled and scared and delighted. The character development wasn’t much, but the medical examiner trope was pretty fresh. Also, the settings were not the usual Boston/LA/New York kinds of settings. Her Kay Scarpetta series started going off the rails for me as everyone fell in love with Dr. Scarpetta and she got surlier and surlier. I confess I haven’t read many of the intervening books, but I picked this one up at a free table, and it was worth the price.
The plot was modestly interesting for a while. Unrelated-seeming folks die spectacularly and the team of grouches try to figure out why and how. Flesh and Blood was too much of a placeholder – the ‘mystery’ wasn’t much, the book resolves itself in a matter of a couple of short chapters, although the science and technology was fun – but at least much of the smoldering seems to have subsided. I don’t think she did any of her own autopsies in this book, but that is certainly what happens, generally, in science as you move up the chain, so perhaps that is an accurate representation of life as a medical examiner.
Oddly enough (and spoiler alert, perhaps, although it isn’t clear what is being spoiled?), the book ends with ‘SNAP’ – yep, capitalized and everything. My hope is that this is the end of Kay, but I imagine Kay will survive and continue to muddle through investigations, personal relationships, cooking, and all of the other things that she does the way she does. Perhaps future Kay Scarpetta books will carve a new niche as we learn about budgeting and staffing of medical examiner offices? Could be really fascinating!