4. “Port mortuary” by Patricia Cornwell


Publisher: Little, Brown, 2010
Page count: 496 pages

“Port mortuary” is the latest crime novel in the long series about the forensic pathologist Dr. Kay Scarpetta. At the beginning of the novel, Scarpetta is finishing a 6-month residency at a military facility in Dover where she has been studying the latest technology and advances in forensic pathology. Returning to the CFC, a forensic institute in Boston, Massachusetts that she helped establish right before her stint at the US military, she finds it in an absolute turmoil: the body of an unidentified young man brought in the day before has been bleeding profusely in the mortuary’s freezer, suggesting he may not have been dead when he was first put in the freezer! Also worrying, Scarpetta’s second in command at the CFC, Jack Fielding, has stolen a gun from the victim’s belongings and is currently on the run. What was his involvement in this death?

Having read the previous novel, “The Scarpetta factor”, I found the beginning of this novel somewhat confusing; what is Scarpetta doing in Dover and Boston when there was no indication she was going to move away from New York in the previous book? Moreover, not having read all the previous books in the series (only the first two and then The Scarpetta Factor) I was unaware of Scarpetta’s military background, and so the military sidestory also took some time for me to get into. It was well worth the effort, however; once you get past those initial obstacles, this is a perfectly decent Patricia Cornwell novel, and I became addicted hook, line and sinker.

This is an easy read that I picked up at an airport, and assuming you don’t mind the somewhat repetitive technological descriptions (the book is almost 500 pages and could do with some editing) or the gory details that are the nature of forensic pathology, sit back and enjoy the ride, because this crime novel does exactly what it says on the tin: it will entertain you and leave you wondering who the murderer(s) are until the very end.

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