“Red Mist”
by Patricia Cornwell
Read by Kate Burton
Produced by Penguin Audio

Dr. Kay Scarpetta has been a staple in Patricia Cornwell’s novels since 1990 and this latest novel brings Kay to Georgia.  Dr. Scarpetta is a Forensic Examiner/Expert and in this 19th novel featuring her as the protagonist, she has agreed to meet with an inmate at the Georgia Prison for women.  The inmate is a convicted sex offender and mother of a vicious killer.  The woman is convicted of molesting then 12 year old Jack Fielding Scarpetta’s former deputy chief.  The daughter is the result of that relationship and is also the murderer of Jack Fielding.  Scarpetta’s quest is personal, but soon she finds herself roped into an investigation that could clear a woman, now on death row at the same prison, of murder.

The author, Patricia Cornwell is a founder of the Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine, a founding member of the National Forensic Academy, a member of the Advisory Board for the Forensic Science Training Program at the office of Chief Medical Examiner, New York City, and a member of the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital’s National Council where she is an advocate for psychiatric research.   With these credentials you know you are getting an author that knows what she is writing about.  The science and techniques used in this book not only have that real feel, but Patricia Cornwell has not forgotten the general public and writes so that any person will understand even what could be the most technical jargon.  She keeps the science real but easily understood.  Not only that but Cornwell’s writing involves some unique techniques that capture the surroundings so all clues can be observed in this mystery.

And example of this is when the people investigating the facts of a case over a dinner all are talking about the case throughout, but at times the listener/reader only hears thoughts in Kay Scarpetta’s head, while at the same time, we hear parts of the conversation and at other times we hear off-hand comments from her friend and detective Marino.  Marino comments on how he hates artificial sweeteners, which have nothing to do with the case but puts you in a very realistic scene. Very well done to make the story real.

The reader of this audiobook, Kate Burton, does a superb job of vocalizing all the different voices and attitudes of each character, from Boston accents, Southern, New York and even an Australian, all performed clearly and effectively.

“Red Mist” will engross you in a full investigation that may clear the woman on death row, but the possibilities of what may have actually happened may solve a spree of murders across the country, alert Homeland Security to possible terrorist activities and solve some burning questions from tragedies in Kay Scarpetta’s past.  I don’t usually start a series late but this time around I was curious and jumped right in.  Patricia Cornwell did an excellent job explaining the past histories of all the personnel involved and this novel serves well as a stand-alone piece in the Kay Scarpetta series.

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