***** All in one day
When I start reading a book in Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta series I already know nothing can get wrong.
First, because I meet again old acquaintances, who, over the years (more than twenty), in my mind have become real people. In fact, one of the reasons why I love this series is exactly the prominent role that the subplots have within the single books. In practice, I read them to know what will happen to Scarpetta, Marino, Lucy and Benton, and other characters that appear and disappear in their stories, while the single crime cases, as for me, are just an excuse that allows the existence of the books.
The second reason why I know I’ll enjoy it is that, although she finds herself always narrating stories in the same imaginary world, which could lead to a certain repetitiveness, Cornwell still manages to be original, using the tools that her role gives to her: literary techniques.
This novel is written in first person from the point of view of Scarpetta and in present tense, and covers a time span of about a day. In over 350 pages of the book you are told what the main character sees, feels and thinks in real time, from the time she is taken from Dover Air Force Base, unaware of what happened, until the discovery and capture of the culprit, which occurs approximately 24 hours later. With her we discover step by step the events of the previous days. We have the same information that she has, we see the same videos that are shown to her, we attend to the same conversations with the other characters, with her we discover what her husband and her niece are hiding, and we find ourselves putting together the pieces of an intricate case that touches her very closely.
At the same time, the author doesn’t forget the new readers who may discover the series starting right from this book (or her old readers who can’t remember well the back-story), therefore, when a character makes their appearance, she presents and frames them just with a few sentences. Despite this, I think it’s better you read this one after you’ve also read the previous ones, possibly in chronological order.
The result is a work among the best by Cornwell, who here shows all her skill and maturity. Not only she can manage a complex plot, get the best even from the limited perspective offered by the first person, but she does so with a magnificent prose.
I only give one advice to those who want to read this book: make sure you can dedicate some time to it, because, to better appreciate this novel, you must read it in one go or in a few days.