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Mainely Tipping Points

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Patricia Cornwell’s PREDATOR

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Books, Documentaries, Reviews:  January 24, 2014

Patricia Cornwell’s Predator

I downloaded and listened to this book from our Maine Library System.

I thought I’d try out a Cornwell as I’d heard off and on over the years that her books were good and are centered around a very cool woman forensic scientist, Kate Scarpetta.

Remember that I’d just finished P.D. James’ Devices and Desires and thoroughly enjoyed it.

After James, the Cornwell is a real letdown.

The characters seem really stereotypical, for one thing.  For another, much of the “plot” revolved around being inside the bad person’s head while perfectly horrible, terrible, scary, gory, inhumane acts took place–and all from a the always-very-rare serial killer.  Or, inside the victim’s head while they are being tortured.

Who on earth would want those kinds of images in their heads?

James kills people and has them do insane things all right.  But the Cornwell is different.  The experience felt very voyeuristic, and, frankly, not at all interesting.  Just…gory.  The story made me feel…dirty.

There is nothing of James’ elegance, or depth, or attention to the nuances of people in all their complexity.

It’s probably unfair to damn a writer from one book–especially when there are so many here from this writer–but I won’t go back to this well until I totally run out of other books to enjoy.

I worry about the United States with all its engagement with these kinds of stories…over and over and over again–and especially when they are visual as with television/movies.

And, good heavens!  The Grimm Fairy Tales certainly are…grim.   There’s plenty of blood.  But Cornwell and all the forensic shows are something different yet again.  There’s something here that does not just create express horror at what all a twisted person can do, but which, instead, begins to inure one to what should remain terrible.  In this process, the boundaries just get pushed further and further into the truly…rare and terrible.

Written by louisaenright

January 24, 2014 at 1:42 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Her early works are her best.

    June Derr

    January 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm

  2. i have noticed in out small-town library, that more and more space on the “new books” shelves are filled with murder-and-mayhem mystery books, such as you describe, with lurid cover images. why? there are so many great books being published- why is there this focus on appealing to the baser part of the human animal??
    [for inspiration re a fascinating array of newly published, books on all sorts of things, both fiction and non, try watching Book TV on C-Span]

    judith brill

    January 25, 2014 at 4:48 pm


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