Skip to main content

Chaos: A Scarpetta Novel


Chaos: A Scarpetta Novel

Boston is suffering through a horrible heat wave when Kay Scarpetta, forensics expert and director of the city's morgue, decides to walk to her dinner meeting with her husband, Benton Wesley. But as with most of Patricia Cornwell's police procedurals, Scarpetta is found by Pete Marino, a man of many personas, who is now an investigator for Scarpetta in her work with speaking for the dead. He heads her off and lectures her about the dangers of walking alone in Boston, even if she is passing MIT and Harvard.

"Readers new to Cornwell will find themselves involved from the very first page, as will the veterans. CHAOS is one book you should not miss."

Marino has been looking for Scarpetta because he got a call from the local FBI office that a suspicious death has occurred near the water. The dead woman is lying near the Kennedy School of Government, and Scarpetta thinks this is the girl she encountered while riding a bicycle on the path earlier that day. Her name was Elisa Vandersteel, and she had an English accent. Scarpetta is totally bewildered by what Marino is telling her about this incident next to the Charles River. Marino, who is driving her to the scene, has an enormous amount of information about the man who contacted him, but Scarpetta doesn't believe the call actually came from an FBI agent.

Meanwhile, Scarpetta has been receiving anonymous poems from an individual who knows personal facts about her life and family. She turns to her niece Lucy, a computer genius, to help unveil this mystery man. But Lucy finds that she cannot trace the emails, so Scarpetta remains helpless at the hands of “Tailend Charlie," as the cyberbully calls himself.

When Scarpetta and Marino finally get to the scene, "It appears [Elisa] was struck by lightning --- except the weather is perfectly clear with not a cloud in sight. Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the Cambridge Forensic Center’s director and chief, decides at the scene that this is no accidental Act of God." The media is in a frenzy when they get wind that Scarpetta’s explanation sounds like a joke or a case of "spontaneous combustion."

Of course, the case and the death become twisted together, making for another thrilling police procedural from Patricia Cornwell. All of her series characters make appearances here, and those familiar with her work will feel that they are among the team. Readers new to Cornwell will find themselves involved from the very first page, as will the veterans. CHAOS is one book you should not miss.

Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on November 18, 2016

Chaos: A Scarpetta Novel
by Patricia Cornwell

  • Publication Date: June 27, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062436708
  • ISBN-13: 9780062436702