Patricia Cornwell is a big name in crime fiction. She is the best-selling author of the popular series of novels featuring medical examiner Dr Kay Scarpetta. “The Scarpetta Factor” is the seventeenth book in this series.
“The Scarpetta Factor” takes place in New York City where Kay is working pro bono at the office of the Chief Medical Examiner. She’s also the senior forensic analyst for CNN and that has brought her unwanted attention. When she is offered her own show called The Scarpetta Factor she begins to wonder if people will think she has some special ability to solve cases. This increased visibility gets her involved in a series of unsettling events that center around the disappearance of a young woman.
Past Scarpetta novels have relied heavily on in-depth forensic investigation and police procedures to solve a crime. At 492 pages this one has very little of that and relies more on psychological analysis that anyone unfamiliar with the character could mistake it for a Jonathan Kellerman book. It does have the usual cast of characters that readers have become familiar with (Marino, Benton, Lucy) but Lucy has become whiny, temperamental and downright annoying. There is plenty of action and crime solving but there are too many flashbacks and that just makes the story longer than it has to be.