The fourth book in the Kay Scarpetta series and like the previous one, it’s all getting better in certain ways, while this goes to some places that I almost always hate in mystery series. In this novel, we’re months or about year after the previous novel, and we find Kay Scarpetta reflecting on events in her life. She’s also on call because of an upcoming execution, where barring a governor’s intercession she will need to pronounce the death of the infamous killer being put to death.
On the same night as the execution, another violent crime happens that will eventually bear a lot of resemblance to the original crime of the convicted killer. Kay ends up needing to reinvestigate the old crime in looking into the new crime. We also get a cameo (or introduction — we will have to see in future books) of a notorious criminal defense lawyer, who was also one of Kay’s Georgetown law school professors. He’s presented as a kind of Alan Dershowitz/Barry Scheck figure.
This one is solid, and avoids the anti-gay slurs! Huzzah! But not some of the same problems of the past novels. The biggest complaint is that the novel feels deeply compelled to turn a murder investigation into a broad conspiracy case. This kind of scope plagues good mystery series. It’s almost such a problem that you look to see how long a series can last on its own steam before the author decides to either start killing off friends and family for plot movement, or make our detective into the target of a conspiracy.