Chaos by Patricia Cornwell

Chaos by Patricia CornwellChaos by Patricia Cornwell
Published by HarperCollins on November 15th 2016
Genres: Crime, Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 400

#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell returns with the remarkable twenty-fourth thriller in her popular high-stakes series starring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta.In the quiet of twilight, on an early autumn day, twenty-six-year-old Elisa Vandersteel is killed while riding her bicycle along the Charles River. It appears she 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.Her investigation becomes complicated when she begins receiving a flurry of bizarre poems from an anonymous cyberbully who calls himself Tailend Charlie. Though subsequent lab results support Scarpetta’s conclusions, the threatening messages don’t stop. When the tenth poem arrives exactly twenty-four hours after Elisa’s death, Scarpetta begins to suspect the harasser is involved, and sounds the alarm to her investigative partner Pete Marino and her husband, FBI analyst Benton Wesley.She also enlists the help of her niece, Lucy. But to Scarpetta’s surprise, tracking the slippery Tailend Charlie is nearly impossible, even for someone as brilliant as her niece. Also, Lucy can’t explain how this anonymous nemesis could have access to private information. To make matters worse, a venomous media is whipping the public into a frenzy, questioning the seasoned forensics chief’s judgment and

I have been a fan of Patricia Cornwell for quite some time and have read many of her previous books. When the publisher provided me with an opportunity to read and review her new book, Chaos – the 24th in the Kay Scarpetta series – I was thrilled!  Unfortunately, due to the time of year and the other books in my “must read” pile, this book fell to the wayside until now.  It’s a shame too, because it was another great thriller by Patricia Cornwell that I could have really enjoyed much earlier! 

While I found that Chaos could be read as a standalone book, I did feel that certain references to past events would have made better sense if I had read the series in the order.  The author does give enough of a background that you can follow the story without having read the others in this series though. While I’ve read many of Cornwell’s books in the Scarpetta series, I will admit that I have not read all of the books (1 through 23) in the series. Maybe once I’m retired I’ll start the series from beginning to end, since I’m sure I’d become addicted and will breeze through the other books as I did this one!

Chaos starts out with Kay Scarpetta walking down the street on a crazy hot day and she’s sweaty and not happy.  Little does she know things are going to get worse. Kay is planning to meet her FBI profiler husband, Benton Wesley for dinner but gets a call from Pete Marino telling her that they just a 911 call about her fighting with a boyfriend in public. While the caller wasn’t really talking about her husband, but instead, one of her co-workers, the creepy thing is that the caller knew something very specific about Kay and this co-worker.  Scarpetta is baffled as to who might be lurking in the shadows and what the rationale could be for such a false report.

In the meantime, Kay has been receiving a message every single day from “Tailend Charlie,” and the person calling her in obviously knows things that no one should know about Kay.  Even more frightening is that the person is speaking to Kay using her in her father’s voice.  All signs of this situation point to this being the work of Kay’s nemesis, Carrie Grethen so Kay and her friends and family all need to be really careful.

Kay then finally reaches Benton, but they both get phone calls causing them to cancel their dinner and instead, Kay heads off to a crime scene in the park.  A woman appears to have been electrocuted and there is a lamppost near the woman that appears to have exploded. Kay and her team begin working on the scene when the FBI shows up. It would appear that this is a simple accidental death in the park, but when both the FBI and Benton show up, Kay knows something is really wrong with this crime scene. She and Marino go over the body and the crime scene and they begin to realize that things just aren’t adding up. Benton later tells Kay that there’s a similar death that has taken place in Washington, DC and tragically, it’s Kay’s mentors.

Benton heads off to Washington, DC to deal with the other death.  At the same time, Kay is investigating the situation with the woman in the park and what has happened to her. They really need to figure this thing out before Carrie gets to close to their family.  As the story unravels and Kay comes to realize what has happened to the woman in the park, she gets more and more perturbed.   All builds up to a grand finale, where Scarpetta and Wesley come to terms with the series of events that have haunted them, which then leaves readers with a revelation that will change things forever.  I do not write spoilers but suffice it to say, this one will change the Scarpetta series into the future.  A big kudos to Ms. Cornwell for this very interesting addition to the Scarpetta series!

In 1990, Patricia Cornwell sold her first novel, Postmortem, while working at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. An auspicious debut, it went on to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards as well as the French Prix du Roman d’Aventure prize – the first book ever to claim all these distinctions in a single year.

Today, Cornwell’s novels and now iconic characters, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, her niece Lucy and fellow investigator Pete Marino, are known all over the world. Fox 2000 is actively developing a feature film about Kay Scarpetta. Beyond the Scarpetta series, Patricia has written a definitive account of Jack the Ripper’s identity, cookbooks, a children’s book, a biography of Ruth Graham, and two other fiction series based on the characters Win Garano and Andy Brazil.

Cornwell was born in Miami, grew up in Montreat, North Carolina, and now lives and works in Boston.  Visit Patricia Cornwell at her Official Website at:

I received a hardbound copy of this book without cost from the publisher in exchange for my honest review and opinion regarding this book! Thank you very much Harper Collins!

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