Cover image for Blow fly
Title:
Blow fly
Author:
Cornwell, Patricia Daniels.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : G. P. Putnam's Sons, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
465 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.0 19.0 88819.
ISBN:
9780399150890

9780399151354
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

The world's number-one-bestselling crime writer is back with another scorching thriller featuring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Dr. Kay Scarpetta has left Virginia in quest of peace but instead finds herself drawn into baffling, horrific murders in Florida. There she becomes entangled in an international conspiracy that confronts her with the shock of her life.


Author Notes

Patricia Cornwell was born in Miami, Florida on June 9, 1956. When she was nine years old, her mother tried to give her and her two brothers to evangelist Billy Graham and his wife to care for. For a while the children lived with missionaries since their mother was unable to care for them.

After graduating from Davidson College in 1979, she worked for The Charlotte Observer eventually covering the police beat and winning an investigative reporting award from the North Carolina Press Association for a series of articles on prostitution and crime in downtown Charlotte. Her award-winning biography of Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of Billy Graham, A Time for Remembering, was published in 1983. From 1984 to 1990, she worked as a technical writer and a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. While working for the medical examiner, she began to write novels. Although the award-winning novel Postmortem was initially rejected by seven different publishers, once it was published in 1990 it became the only novel ever to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards as well as the French Prix du Roman d'Adventure, in one year.

She is the author of the Kay Scarpetta series, the Andy Brazil series, and the Winston Garano series. She has also written two cookbooks entitled Scarpetta's Winter Table and Food to Die For; a children's book entitled Life's Little Fable; and non-fiction works like Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Kay Scarpetta fans will miss their favorite forensic pathologist in this new thriller, as Cornwell cedes much of the spotlight to other characters in the long-running series. Lucy, Kay's defiant niece, and Marino, the bad-tempered, opinionated cop, are here, as are several familiar depraved psychopaths--among them, Wolfman Jean-Baptiste Chandonne and his twin brother, who first surfaced in Black Notice (2000). It appears that Chandonne, whose execution date is drawing near, wants to see Kay, ostensibly to reveal information about his family that will ensure the collapse of their Mob cartel and to have her administer the drug that will end his life. But, as usual in Cornwell's more recent books, absolutely nothing is what it seems. Granted, there are some compelling (and gruesome) moments, and a few loose ends from previous books are finally taken care of: Marino's foul son is killed and left for maggot food (thus the title), and Kay's great love, Wesley, comes back from the dead (he's been in a witness protection program). Otherwise, though, this is a murky stew, indeed, with action careening in way too many directions. Oh, for a return to the Cornwell who created the tough but vulnerable Scarpetta, who, at center stage, used her intellect and forensic training to solve a more straightforward mystery. --Stephanie Zvirin Copyright 2003 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

"Please don't go there. The past is the past," sighs New York Assistant District Attorney Jaime Berger, who herself was introduced in Cornwell's last Kay Scarpetta novel, The Last Precinct (2000). Alas, many of Cornwell's fans are bound to agree. One fascinating nonfiction bestseller (Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed) later, Cornwell now returns to Scarpetta, formerly Virginia's chief medical examiner. From the start, however, the formidable author is up against the equally formidable task of getting her charismatic main character off ice and back in action. We encounter Scarpetta languishing in a crumbling little rental house in Florida. She has taken refuge there and become a private forensic consultant after she was driven from her job for her alleged involvement in the murder of a deputy police chief. The violent death of her lover, Benton Wesley, the brilliant FBI psychological profiler, has left her filled with an unappeasable grief. When the coroner in Baton Rouge asks her advice on a cold case concerning an affluent woman found dead of a drug overdose in a seedy hotel, it seems little more than a diversion. Yet it becomes clear that the overdose may be related to a fresh string of serial killings. Also disturbing Scarpetta's somber peace is a troubling letter from someone out to kill her, the sick and obsessed death-row inmate Jean-Baptiste. When Scarpetta is at last allowed to get back to business, she is a feisty, independent powerhouse whose capacity to concentrate and observe rivals Sherlock Holmes's. But too much of this book is bound up in retrospective musings about events in previous books. The great Scarpetta, her fiery crime-busting niece, Lucy, and a colorful supporting cast deserve better. 1,000,000 first printing; Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild main selections; foreign sales to Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Spain and the U.K.. (Oct. 13) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Cornwell proves there is still life and suspense in her Kay Scarpetta series after all. Building on the tensions and crimes from two previous books, Black Notice and The Last Precinct, this novel successfully addresses the issues and emotions faced by the major characters. The evil brothers Jean Baptiste Chandonne and Jay Talley rehaunt the now disgraced into "retirement" forensic examiner, and Cornwell manages to pull off surprises and plot twists that leave Kay and her listeners stunned. It may be difficult to jump into this work without knowing the history and the players, both friend and foe. The repetition of certain descriptions of characters and their demeanors is a flaw that throws off the pacing of this thriller. Kate Reading is very comfortable returning to this cast, giving them depth. Recommended.-Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

1 DR. KAY SCARPETTA moves the tiny glass vial close to candlelight, illuminating a maggot drifting in a poisonous bath of ethanol. At a glance, she knows the exact stage of metamorphosis before the creamy carcass, no larger than a grain of rice, was preserved in a specimen vessel fitted with a black screw cap. Had the larva lived, it would have matured into a bluebottle Calliphora vicina, a blow fly. It might have laid its eggs in a dead human body's mouth or eyes, or in a living person's malodorous wounds. "Thank you very much," Scarpetta says, looking around the table at the fourteen cops and crime-scene technicians of the National Forensic Academy's class of 2003. Her eyes linger on Nic Robillard's innocent face. "I don't know who collected this from a location best not to contemplate at the dinner table, and preserved it with me in mind . . . but . . ." Blank looks and shrugs. "I have to say that this is the first time I've been given a maggot as a gift." No one claims responsibility, but if there is a fact Scarpetta has never doubted, it is a cop's ability to bluff and, when necessary, outright lie. Having noticed a tug at the corner of Nic Robillard's mouth before anyone else realized that a maggot had joined them at the dinner table, Scarpetta has a suspect in mind. The light of the flame moves over the vial in Scarpetta's fingertips, her nails neatly filed short and square, her hand steady and elegant but strong from years of manipulating the unwilling dead and cutting through their stubborn tissue and bone. Unfortunately for Nic, her classmates aren't laughing, and humiliation finds her like a frigid draft. After ten weeks with cops she should now count as comrades and friends, she is still Nic the Hick from Zachary, Louisiana, a town of twelve thousand, where, until recently, murder was an almost unheard-of atrocity. It was not unusual for Zachary to go for years without one. Most of Nic's classmates are so jaded by working homicides that they have come up with their own categories for them: real murders, misdemeanor murders, even urban renewal. Nic doesn't have her own pet categories. Murder is murder. So far in her eight-year career, she has worked only two, both of them domestic shootings. It was awful the first day of class when an instructor went from one cop to another, asking how many homicides each of their departments averaged a year. None, Nic said. Then he asked the size of each cop's department. Thirty-five , Nic said. Or smaller than my eighth-grade class, as one of her new classmates put it. From the beginning of what was supposed to be the greatest opportunity of her life, Nic quit trying to fit in, accepting that in the police way of defining the universe, she was a them, not an us. Her rather whimsical maggot mischief, she realizes with regret, was a breach of something (she's not sure what), but without a doubt she should never have decided to give a gift, serious or otherwise, to the legendary forensic pathologist Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Nic's face heats up, and a cold sweat dampens her armpits as she watches for her hero's reaction, unable to read it, probably because Nic is stunned stupid by insecurity and embarrassment. "So I'll call her Maggie, although we really can't determine gender yet," Scarpetta decides, her wire-rim glasses reflecting shifting candlelight. "But a good enough name for a maggot, I think." A ceiling fan snaps and whips the candle flame inside its glass globe as she holds up the vial. "Who's going to tell me which instar Maggie is? What life stage was she in before someone"-she scans the faces at the table, pausing on Nic's again-"dropped her in this little bottle of ethanol? And by the way, I suspect Maggie aspirated and drowned. Maggots need air the same way we do." "What asshole drowned a maggot?" one of the cops snipes. "Yeah. Imagine inhaling alcohol . . ." "What'cha talking about, Joey? You been inhaling it all night." A dark, ominous humor begins to rumble like a distant storm, and Nic doesn't know how to duck out of it. She leans back in her chair, crossing her arms at her chest, doing her best to look indifferent as her mind unexpectedly plays one of her father's worn-out storm warnings: Now, Nic, honey, when there's lightning, don't stand alone or think you'll be protected by hiding in the trees. Find the nearest ditch and lie as low in it as you can. At the moment, she has no place to hide but in her own silence. "Hey Doc, we already took our last test." "Who brought homework to our party?" "Yeah, we're off duty." "Off duty, I see," Scarpetta muses. "So if you're off duty when the dead body of a missing person has just been found, you're not going to respond. Is that what you're saying?" "I'd have to wait until my bourbon wears off," says a cop whose shaved head is so shiny it looks waxed. "That's a thought," she says. Now the cops are laughing-everyone but Nic. "It can happen." Scarpetta sets the vial next to her wineglass. "At any given moment, we can get a call. It may prove to be the worst call of our careers, and here we are, slightly buzzed from a few drinks on our time off, or maybe sick, or in the middle of a fight with a lover, a friend, one of the kids." She pushes away her half-eaten yellowfin tuna and folds her hands on top of the checkered tablecloth. "But cases can't wait," she adds. "Seriously. Isn't it true that some can?" asks a Chicago detective his classmates call Popeye because of the anchor tattooed on his left forearm. "Like bones in a well or buried in a basement. Or a body under a slab of concrete. I mean, they ain't going anywhere." "The dead are impatient," Scarpetta says. --from Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell, copyright © 2003 by Patricia Cornwell, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher. Excerpted from Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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