Review: Black Notice by Patricia Cornwell

This is the tenth entry in the Kay Scarpetta series, and by now there are thick tendrils of continuity that bind each instalment together. I’ve read every Bosch; every Rebus; every Pickett; every Davenport — and no other series is as tethered, book to book, than Patricia Cornwell’s. 

The central mystery in “Black Notice,” involves an unidentified body discovered in a cargo ship recently arrived from Belgium. It’s vintage Cornwell: the case burgeons fantastically, eventually involving Interpol, and a visit to Paris in aid of Scarpetta’s hunt for the French serial killer Loup-Garou; the Werewolf. Of course the climax is typically brusque, but by now I am accustomed to a long fuse that doesn’t necessarily fizzle, but also doesn’t explode as I’d hoped.

There’s a ton of associated drama too, including the arrival of a new deputy police chief, Diane Bray, who is hellbent on destroying Scarpetta’s career, and her closest ally, Captain Pete Marino; and Kay’s niece Lucy, now an undercover agent working out of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ Miami office, finds herself in a world of trouble when an operation goes catastrophically wrong. 

The undercurrent of emotional drama stems from the seismic incident that occurred in “Point of Origin.” No spoilers here, but that event casts a long shadow over “Black Notice.” Nary a chapter goes by without a reference to it. As someone who’s blazing through these books at a ridiculous pace (this is my third of the month) I love how referential the series is to its predecessors. But if this was my first exposure to Kay Scarpetta I might be scared off by its thick soup of continuity; I might sink rather than swim.  

ISBN: 9780751544831
Format: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 464
Published: 1st November 2010
Publisher: Little Brown

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