Chaos – Patricia Cornwell
On a hot late summer evening in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her investigative partner Pete Marino respond to a call about a dead bicyclist near the Kennedy School of Government. It appears that a young woman has been attacked with almost super human force.
Even before Scarpetta’s headquarters, the Cambridge Forensic Center, has been officially notified about the case, Marino and Scarpetta’s FBI agent husband Benton Wesley receive suspicious calls, allegedly from someone at Interpol. But it makes no sense. Why would the elite international police agency know about the case or be interested? With breathtaking speed it becomes apparently that an onslaught of interference and harassment might be the work of an anonymous cyberbully named Tailend Charlie, who has been sending cryptic communications to Scarpetta for over a week.
Stunningly, even her brilliant tech savvy niece Lucy can’t trace whoever it is or how this person could have access to intimate information few outside the family would have.
When a second death hundreds of miles south, shocking Scarpetta to her core, it becomes apparent she and those close her are confronted with something far bigger and more dangerous than they’d ever imagined. Then analysis of a mysterious residue recovered from a wound is identified as a material that doesn’t exist on earth.
My thanks to Hayley at Harper Collins for the chance to join the Chaos blog tour.
The 24th Kay Scarpetta novel from Patricia Cornwell – do you need to have read all the previous books? Possibly not but, as with all good series where character development is integral to the stories, returning readers will be richly rewarded. Chaos is not recommended as a jumping on point though, there are quite a few elements to the story which will require a bit of knowledge over past events and there are recurring characters where knowing the dynamic will enhance your reading enjoyment.
As we join Scarpetta we learn that she has been targeted by a cyber-stalker (dubbed Tailend Charlie) through regular messages he is revealing he knows more about Scarpetta’s background than a random nuisance should be able to determine. The communications appear to be a distraction for Dr Scarpetta but as events unfold in Chaos we find that they may be a more imminent threat than she has originally realised.
Tailend Charlie looms large over much of the events in Chaos. Even though events in the book take place over a very short period of time, through many conversational flashbacks we find that Scarpetta has been subject of Charlie’s attentions for quite some time. The mystery of his motives is a great hook and the way the story drips his influence breaks up the active investigation that is holding Scarpetta’s attention.
What I particularly enjoyed about Chaos is the focus given to the death of a cyclist. What has always made Patricia Cornwell novels standout for me in the past has been the detail that the author captures when Scarpetta works – and the dignity which is bestowed upon the victims she works with. Chaos has an extensive investigation into the cyclist’s death. Ideas over how this young woman died are explored, the scene of crime is described and searched with a thoroughness that comes from expert understanding of the subject matter and speculation is shot down in firm and professional manner. For reasons I cannot reveal (SPOILERS) Scarpetta is not having the best of days before she commences this investigation – the death of the cyclist is not making her day any better and things are going to become more puzzling and more hazardous for our favourite Doctor…
As I read I found that Chaos starts slow and builds and builds to the frenetic endgame. Seemingly inconsequential detail from the early chapters are built upon as the story develops – by the end you will appreciate how the author laid the clues and set up the mysteries. For fans of the series you need to know that events in Chaos will through Scarpetta’s life into…well chaos (obviously). The impact of this story will change the dynamic of her life for all future books.
What better incentive to bring a little Chaos into your day?
Chaos is available now in hardback and digital formats. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chaos-Kay-Scarpetta-Patricia-Cornwell/dp/0008150621/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477601542&sr=8-1&keywords=chaos+patricia+cornwell
Follow the rest of the blog tour here