She’s done it again! Patricia Cornwell’s Dust – a review

I have been an afecionada of anything Patricia Cornwell has published for longer than I’d like to admit. I’m in Waterstones (the UK booksellers) first thing on a Saturday morning to buy her new books, hardback and all (Waterstones stock Cornwell’s latest books promptly upon publishing date and offer a lovely discount on them too, so why shouldn’t I plug their business? I love you Waterstones!)

I like the fact that lately she’s adapted a dialogue inside the dialogue technique that I adore: a primary conversation takes place between two characters, with a secondary conversation happening in parallel in their own minds telling us what the characters’ spoken words are not. We all do it, don’t we? We say something whilst thinking something else. Woody Allen used this in a few of his films, with subtitles revealing the true thoughts in his characters’ heads.

Dialogues’ technique aside, what do I think of Dust? I must think a lot of it, since I haven’t even finished it, and yet I am already writing a review about it – I just couldn’t wait to talk about this book with you, blogging friends.

It’s not a perfect piece of fiction though, and whilst enjoying it, a couple of things are bothering me. The blurb tells us that fine red dust was found on a young woman’s dead body, and yet it takes a good one hundred pages for Cornwell to tell us about it. I kept on reading the book’s sleeve to double check that it was the right one. So for those of you who enjoy a faster action type of books, hang in there, I say, you won’t be disappointed…eventually.

What else bothers me? It’s Cornwell’s recent habit of going over events set out in some of her early books in the Dr Scarpetta series. It’s as if she’s realised that so much time has passed since launching the forensic pathologist’s book series that perhaps her loyal audience might have forgotten about Benton (her husband) being an FBI profiler whose death the FBI faked to protect them both. Or the ever present resentment of copper friend Marino towards Benton. Marino: hot headed working class guy versus Benton’s looks, sophistication, elegance, intelligence, old money, not to mention being Scarpetta’s husband. (He gets the girl too? Soo unfair).

Did Cornwell’s PR company conduct a survey revealing a brand new audience for her latest crime books? Am I really this old? That must be it. There are new and younger readers out there who are buying Cornwell’s books without realising that the full story of Dr Scarpetta was told over dozens of books written over dozens of years. They don’t know because they probably were not even born when this was happening.

Feeling old apart, I am really enjoying Dust, and would thoroughly recommend it to both her loyal readers of many a year and the new generations of wrinkle free youngsters, the type who don’t require reading glasses and who benefit from a re-cap of Dr Scarpetta and Benton’s love affair.

Has any of you felt irritated by their favourite writers summarising earlier books for the benefit of new audiences? If so, join the club of the old and crabby. We are still the best reviewers in town though.

All the best,



About Of glass and books

Who, me? A fan of good reads and glass jars experiences; budding fiction writer in the very little and spare time available...
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7 Responses to She’s done it again! Patricia Cornwell’s Dust – a review

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I used to devour Cornwell’s books, but for me, the more recent ones have taken a turn for the worse. Couldn’t even finish a couple of them which made me sad. Good to hear you’re enjoying her latest. Maybe I’ll have to give her a try again.

    • That’s interesting. What made you like them less? The slower pace or re-caps for newbies?

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        She just seemed to get too technical at the expense of telling a story. The tone took a different turn, too, and all her characters seemed so miserable. I’ve seen others make similar comments in the reviews of her last several books.

      • Still miserable but I enjoy her writing’s precise and accurate. Not a word out of place. Good writing really. I can confirm that the story telling is slower than previously. I loved the Andy brazil mini series. That was a lot more fun than scarpetta.

  2. I have to admit, I’ve never read any of her books. My sister-in-law devoured her works, so when I would find Patricia Cornwell books at used books sales, I would pass them on to her right away. As I peruse my shelves, I see I only have one book – Cause of Death. I shall put it on my list of books to read this year!

  3. Pingback: Strange & Norrell: Where did that novel go? | Call of the Siren

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