I think it must be difficult for well-known authors to continue writing about the same characters book after book, once they feel that they’ve said all that they have to say about them. Nonetheless, the fans still want to know what happens next in the "lives" of these characters.
Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta is the former Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia who, in previous books, has had her share of problems. With last year’s Blowfly, I thought the author was running out of steam with the series. Scarpetta wasn’t even in the book that much, and when she was, I felt it was a really weak storyline.
So it was with trepidation that I picked up Trace.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Scarpetta is back and, although the book seemed rather vague (especially if you hadn’t already read the previous books), I found it to be much better than Blowfly. It’s been five years since Kay was fired from her job in Richmond when she receives a phone call from her replacement asking her to come back and assist on a case. Going against her gut feelings, she goes, only to find the new Chief less than forthcoming-- in fact, downright antagonistic-- to her and her assistant.
This is where it gets a little vague.
There is reference to a connection between this case and something thought to be entirely different involving her former FBI niece; old employees of hers are acting strangely, and it becomes a little bit of a stretch to bring it all together. Some things are referred to that are never resolved, and I wonder what the purpose of putting them in the book was. The main bad guy has all of the usual neuroses you find in every serial killer book, and his name, Edgar Allen Pogue, is just too corny. Once I made it past the chapter where he talks to his dead mother, he was a little easier to take.
All in all, Trace wasn’t that bad of a book, but it made me long for the good old days when you knew that when you picked up a Patricia Cornwell book with Kay Scarpetta as the main character, you weren’t going to be able to put it down. Maybe I’m expecting too much. Or maybe after twelve books, Scarpetta has just lost her freshness, both to Patricia Cornwell, and to those of us who call ourselves fans.