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Publisher's Summary

Trace is the heart-stopping new Dr. Kay Scarpetta thriller from America's #1 best-selling crime writer.

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, now freelancing from south Florida, returns to the city that turned its back on her five years ago.

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.

Don't miss the other titles in Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series.
©2004 Cornwell Enterprises, Inc.; (P)2004 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"The mystery is intriguing, there's plenty of forensic detail, and the ending...opens the way for Scarpetta and her associates to proceed in any direction that calls to them." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    262
  • 4 Stars
    205
  • 3 Stars
    130
  • 2 Stars
    42
  • 1 Stars
    23

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    211
  • 4 Stars
    94
  • 3 Stars
    48
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    7

Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    184
  • 4 Stars
    100
  • 3 Stars
    68
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    9
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Eileen
  • Tinley Park, IL, United States
  • 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.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • Pensacola, FL, USA
  • 11-19-04

Her Worst Book

I have always enjoyed Kay Scarpetta. She put why to much time into theories and feelings. She spent all that time building a story to have the worst ending I have ever read. I was mad that I wasted my time on this book. This is not a true Patricia Cornwell book.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sandra
  • Boise' Idaho United States
  • 11-24-04

much ado about nothing

I agree-lots of buildup but nothing for a finish. She could have spent a few more words on the resolution. It felt like she wanted to be done with this book as much as I did.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Disappointed

I am so disappointed. I wanted to prove to myself that this novel couldn't be as bad as the other reviews. I do have to agree however, the whole book seemed unfinished. I was even rooting for Lucy to get killed, just to have something exciting happen. I kept wanting and expecting "more"...and it never did. I want to give it at least 2 but that is being generous. I will read/listen to the next book however, because you can't give up on Cornwell or Scarpetta easily.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Frank
  • Torrance, CA, United States
  • 02-01-05

I'm too old to waste this much of my life

In the old days I liked Cornwell's Scarpetta books. After a while however, I felt they became forced and less interesting and I gave up on them. Last month seeing Trace listed I decided to see if Cornwell had improved. Nope. After 12 hours 26 minutes I was hoping Kay, Pete, Benton and Lucy would all climb in one of Lucy's Ferraris and drive it off a cliff. What a depressing lot of troubled people (the good guys) plagued with, for no discernable reason, the total inability to maintain any kind of open communications with one another. The ending fit with the rest of the novel, boring and unfulfilling.
The publisher's note stating "Trace is the heart-stopping new Dr. Kay Scarpetta thriller" is correct; it almost killed me to finish this thing.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Stephen
  • l, PA, United States
  • 12-16-04

Not a Trace of Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell is running out of gas. This book is her worst. Had it been her first it would never have been published.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Janice
  • dansville, NY, United States
  • 01-19-05

Trace

Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. From the story line, to the narrator, and the abrupt ending, there was not one redeemable quality to this book. Changing from third person, to her established first person, was the beginning of a chain of unfortunate events.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

worst ending ever

I've been a Patricia Cornwell fan from the beginning and couldn't wait to read "Trace". I was so disappointed. It was really hard to follow, and if you had never read a Kay Scarpetta book it would have been worse. The ending was so bad I thought I'd not downloaded the whole book. I listened to it again, but no it was all there. I would not recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Really good... until the ending

I have read or listened to all of Patricia Cornwell's books, and am a great fan of "Kay Scarpetta". I found the first three fourths of this book intriguing, but was disappointed with the ending. I agree with the others who said it just ended too fast. When I put the last disk in , I was wondering how everything could be concluded so fast. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful