Thursday, 1 July 2010

Page Turners: Post Mortem by Patricia Cornwell

Book of the month was a landmark crime novel: Patricia Cornwell's first Dr Kay Scarpetta novel, Post Mortem. The book was selected by one of our group who wanted to try Cornwell, and for the same reason I was quite happy to give it a go as well. I found it an easy read, although not as gripping as I expected of an author who's so highly rated. Perhaps it's because it was the first and she hadn't hit her straps yet.

There's not a lot of subtlety or nuance to discuss -- it's fairly in-your-face rape/torture/serial killer stuff. A bit daunting for those of us women who live on our own (and there's a few in our group). Another striking aspect is how dated the book is these days. 1990 doesn't really seem that long ago, but in reality it's 20 years! In that time IT and the Internet have come a looooong way, as has society's attitude to smoking and women in the workforce. This last was rather a strong theme -- the struggle of an intelligent professional woman to be taken seriously in a position as senior as Chief Medical Examiner. It was interesting to read a novel that was so of its time.

The characters are very well drawn -- in fact, it focused a lot more on character than I expected. This is a good thing, but I don't think the plot (as in the crime/mystery part of it) was sufficiently complex to balance it. It seemed to drag on for a while getting nowhere, and then end in a rush, without the twists and turns we're accustomed to seeing from such stories these days. Nevertheless, I can see that the foundations are laid for a multi-book series with a rich cast of characters.

Having said that, I don't know that I was sufficiently engaged to seek out further Cornwell novels, although I'd be happy enough if the circumstances were right (holiday or plane reading, for example).

No comments:

Post a Comment