Postmortem Review

Postmortem - Patricia Cornwell

Kay Scarpetta books, like Alex Cross books and anything V.C. Andrews wrote, are books I grew up seeing around the house but mostly stayed away from. They were/are names I associate with story-over-prose fiction, the type of popular books that are easily consumable but lack any writing prowess whatsoever. In the case of Patricia Cornwell, I was admittedly wrong. I have no problems with her writing, and her story is sound. No complaints there.

Mom always had Cornwell paperbacks strewn about the house. But, nowadays, she can't remember a single storyline or why she even enjoyed the series. My mother has a tremendous memory, especially for books she's read (the woman can tell me the entire Terry Brooks's Shannara storyline in succinct detail, it's one of the reasons I've never read that series), but she can't wrap her head around why she used to love these books as much as she did. And I kinda understand that. While I did like the writing and the story, there's nothing remarkable here. Just an engaging read that is likely to maintain your interest. But will I remember it in a week... a month... a year? Highly unlikely.

Postmortem is an easily-accessible piece of forensic-thriller fiction. Think CSI or any of the lab moments from NCIS and you'll have seen this book coming from across the street. The only parts I stumbled on were some words that were not immediately familiar to me. Several times throughout the book, Cornwell dropped a seventeen-letter- or thirty-two-letter word I had to look up on Google. Your average dictionary does not have these words in it, and Cornwell is inconsistent when explaining what these procedures or pieces of equipment are used for. I cannot image what it was like to read this book back when it first came out. You know, what with the internet and Google not being around. Don't get me wrong, there are more times when Cornwell describes well these processes and the machines that do them than there are times that she doesn't, but a single time where I have to put down my book to research a word is one time too many. And yes, I'm aware that many people are able to gloss right over these words and move the fuck on, but I'm too damn obsessive-compulsive for that shit. However, it does piss me off when I look up a word and find there is an equally-adequate commonly-known word which the author could have used instead of the thesaurus-buckling word with which they chose to stuff their book. That's not the case here, though. Most of the words I didn't know, I didn't know because I don't work in forensic sciences. I can forgive that.

One final note before we wrap this up. Although I cannot remember the kid's name, I really dug the niece character. I'm a sucker for precocious kids in fiction, and this intelligent little girl fit the bill perfectly. I hope she's featured in future installments. That being said, Pete Marino stole the show. He was equal parts asshole, good guy, red herring, and comic relief. Truly my favorite part of the book. I have no comments on Kay Scarpetta. For me, she was faceless and unremarkable.

In summation: The occasional big technical word aside, this is an easy read. Not sure I'll read every book in the series, but I will continue on. I will probably end up synopsis hopping until I find a storyline that piques my interest. I already have a hardcover of Body Farm I scored for a quarter, so I think I'll read that one next. Any reason why I shouldn't skip books? Lemme know in the comments below.

Final Judgment: Not bad, but one good drunk will erase it from your memory.