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In Trace, Scarpetta travels to Richmond, Virginia, at the odd behest of the recently appointed Chief Medical Examiner, who claims that he needs her help to solve a perplexing crime. When she arrives, however, Scarpetta finds that nothing is as she expected: her former lab is in the final stages of demolition; the inept chief isn't the one who requested her after all; her old assistant chief has developed personal problems that he won't reveal; and a glamorous FBI agent, whom Marino dislikes instantly, meddles with the case.
Deprived of assistance from colleagues Benton and Lucy, who are embroiled in what first appears to be an unrelated attempted rape by a stalker, Scarpetta is faced with investigating the death of a 14-year-old girl and working with the smallest pieces of evidence, traces that only the most thorough hunters can identify. She must follow the twisting leads and track the strange details in order to make the dead speak, and to reveal the sad truth that may be more than even she can bear.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Eileen on 03-15-05
A little harsh?
I have read other reviews here, and while I can understand some of the frustration, I would not classify this as one of Cornwell's "worst". I was more annoyed with "The Last Precinct" and "Blow Fly" than with "Trace". I have read all the Scarpetta novels now, and I do agree that the earlier ones contained more suspense and more believable characters.
That being said, I think "Trace" is the type of novel that is setting a new direction for a character that is lasting and still beloved to many of us. I think part of the problem is that Kay has lost some of her invincibility and she's in a position now where she's not the strongest woman on the planet. I think that frustrates some people.
I still think Cornwell writes well, and I wouldn't stop reading Scarpetta novels because I'm attached to the character -hers and that of Pete Marino. If I were to recommend one of these novels to someone, I'd tell them to check out the earlier books first. But, being a completist, as I am sure there are others out there, I would also encourage someone to read them all.
I don't know that the overall comments and ratings here are a true picture of this book. I would suggest seeing for yourself, especially if you're already a Cornwell fan. I'm not trying to say other reviewers are wrong here as everyone is entitled to their opinion. I do agree the ending was lacking in comparison to previous books, but I read (and/or listen) for more than just the payoff at the end. Sometimes it's the story that hooks you, not necessarily just the end (fans of Stephen King's Dark Tower understand this). My advice - go along for the ride and see for yourself.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
By Pamela Harvey on 10-23-04
Over the Top Extreme
I have always enjoyed Cornwell's work, and the character of Dr. Kay Scarpetta, forensic pathologist. Likewise her sidekick and sometimes nemesis Pete Marino. Also her keen insights into office politics down at the morgue. Lately however she seems to be going to off-the-charts extremes - wherewolves (several previous novels), ex-FBI agents who drive around in helicopters and multiple Ferraris, a young girl sequestered in an Aspen condo with her psychologist - I'm not buying it. None of these people is relate-able, and the underlying dark tone is turning me off and I just can't seem to connect. Cornwell's intense powers of observation and description are being wasted on these people and I'm only giving "Trace" a two out of five.
73 of 81 people found this review helpful