BOOK REVIEW: The Body Farm – by Patricia Cornwell

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Title: The Body Farm
(Kay Scarpetta Series #5)
Author: Patricia Cornwell
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Thriller
First published: 1994
Finished reading: November 29th 2014
Pages: 400
Rating 3

“Sometimes I saw his eyes in my sleep, saw them bright like blue glass staring through a barely opened door leading into a strange, dark room filled with a putrid smell.”

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I didn’t read the previous four books of this series, but I can say now it is not really necessary because you can understand the general story without them. I could have read the first book, Postmortem, first, but since I only own it in Spanish I decided to skip straight to The Body Farm instead. It’s not the first time I read something of Patricia Cornwell and the second time was not much better than my first experience. I did like this novel better than her non fiction work Portrait Of A Killer, but I found The Body Farm rather predictable and I couldn’t really connect to the characters. It’s an ok read and similar to all those CSI series out there, but it lacked the dept, character development and plot twists I would need for it to stand out from the rest. Still, I guess this series would work perfectly for an afternoon or night of easy reading…

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This time forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta is send to a small town in North Carolina as her help is needed in a case were an eleven-year-old girl is brutally murdered. The FBI suspect a serial killer named Temple Gault is on the loose and might have killed the little Emily. It is up to Kay and the other agents to find out who really did this to her. She is soon forced to use all the forensic investigation tecniques out there, and she asks for the help of a research facility known as The Body Farm to investigate a dubious mark on the body…

Scarpetta’s niece Lucy, FBI intern, is in trouble as she is accused of entering a highly secured area and possibly stealing data of a confidencial new computer database named CAIN. Scarpetta suspects something is wrong and soon has to protect her niece as well as finidng out who killed poor little Emily. And one of the detectives Marino is getting really involved with the victim’s mother and asking for trouble… Will everything work out in the end?

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The Body Farm was an easy read for sure, but like I said before, it lacked the ingredients to become a really good crime novel. I just wish I couldn’t have guessed ‘whodunit’ before I was halfway down the book, and some of the other ‘twists’ and characters were pretty predictable as well. It is still good enough to entertain you for an afternoon or night, as long as you don’t expect a literary masterpiece. That said, I probably won’t read the first book for a looooong time…

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WWW Wednesdays #20 – December 3rd

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Originally featured at Should Be Reading… WWW WEDNESDAYS is all about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

eatinganimalstwelveyearsaslaveI’m reading two non fiction novels at the moment with the first being Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, a non fiction novel slash memoir about what is really going on in the meat industry. It’s an interesting read so far with some very shocking details about how the animals really live and are slaughtered; not just a book about vegetarianism I suspected before starting it. The second book I’ve started the other day is Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup, a story about a free man who was forced into slavery during twelve years. Heavy material but definitely intriguing!

  • What did you recently finish reading?

halloweenkentuckystyleI6539 actually finished both The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell and Halloween Kentucky Style by Charles Suddeth last Saturday, but the reviews are still pending. Both books weren’t that great, although I liked The Body Farm betten than my second read. More details will come soon as I write my reviews…

 

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

kiera'smoonI will probably stick with a ‘light’ read after two non fiction novels, and try to fill one of the final squares for the Bookish Bingo challenge… So I guess something on that TBR list, although I’m not sure yet which title. Maybe Kiera’s Moon by Lizzy Ford?

WWW Wednesdays #19 – November 26th

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Originally featured at Should Be Reading… WWW WEDNESDAYS is all about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

innocence6539I’m still reading Innocence by Dean Koontz and I’m glad I waited a bit before continuing with this book. I’m loving the beautiful prose Koontz uses in this novel! I will probably finish this one before the weekend if I can find some reading time… I’ve also started The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell, a crime novel I needed for my Bookish Bingo challenge. I’ve had a bad experience with this author in the past, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed this one ends up to be better.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

harrypotterandthegobletoffirethewitchesI finished reading the fourth book of the Harry Potter series: The Goblet Of Fire last week, as well as The Witches by Roald Dahl. I guess it seems like I needed some light reading before continuing with Innocence! Both were rereads and belong to my favorite childhood reads… They are just magical!

 

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Honestly? I don’t know. It will be a title that I can fit into the Bookish Bingo challenge, since I only have to fill in 7 more squares after finishing my current reads… Which is totally doable so I will try to actually complete this challenge. Which square and book to pick first though, I really can’t decide…

Teaser Tuesdays #22 – November 25th: The Body Farm

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’ve finally picked up my copy of The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell this week. It’s the fifth book in the Kay Scarpetta series, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed it won’t be a big deal I haven’t read the first four. I do own a copy of the first book, but it is in Spanish and I wasn’t in the mood to read Spanish… It’s not the first time I read something written by Cornwell, and I sure hope that her fiction is better than her non-fiction. Her book about Jack The Ripper, Portrait Of A Killer, definitely left me unimpressed

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“Marino!” I pulled him by the wrist as fear electrified every nerve in my body. Never had I seen him in such a rage. Dear Lord, I thought. Don’t let him shoot anyone.

 

 

What are you reading right now?

BOOK REVIEW: Portrait Of A Killer – by Patricia Cornwell

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Title: Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper – Case Closed
Author: Patricia Cornwell
Genre: History, Non Fiction, True Crime
First published: 2002
Finished Reading: June 12th 2014
Pages: 383
Rating 2,5

“And suddenly the world was filled with wooden faces and flat voices – and, you were alone.”

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I have to admit that before I started reading Portrait Of A KillerI didn’t know much more about the Jack The Ripper case other than that he was quite a violent serial killer and mostly attacked prostitutes. It is also the first time I’ve read something by Patricia Cornwell, and I have the feeling this nonfiction investigation of the 19th century killer didn’t show me a complete image of Cornwell as a writer. Although the story started interesting, I soon started wondering whether the subtitle Jack The Ripper – Case Closed would have been a bit of an exaggeration. I couldn’t help but feel the evidence she presented was mostly circumstantial and the explanations sometimes quite shaky while she was trying to convince the reader the true identity of Jack The Ripper: a famous painter called Walter Sickert. Cornwell used modern technology when trying to find more physical evidence to build her case, but most results came back inconclusive. And after finishing Portrait Of A Killer, I don’t think Walter Sickert would have ever been convicted of the murders if she presented the case as described in her book to court. Yet another big Ha Ha from our fiend Jack The Ripper…

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The story about the life in Victorian England and France itself was quite interesting. Cornwell was able to give us an insight into the life as it would have been like during the 19th century. In describing the lives of Sickert, the various victims and the cops trying to find the killer, we were able to see how different social classes lived before, during and after the killings taking place in 1888-1889. The killings are brutal and close to butchery, and it is scary to even think that a human being would be able to afflict that kind of damage without feeling remorse. But then again, Jack The Ripper was nothing less than a monster, although a brilliant one.

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I just wished Cornwell would have kept her opinion slightly to herself instead of trying to force the identity of Jack The Ripper on us. Sure, after all she told about Walter Sickert he definitely looks suspicious. But without accompanying evidence, her claim of whodunnit for me wasn’t rightfully made. Or at least not when selling the book as a nonfiction investigation. Sickert might have done it, but the facts are more than a hunderd years old, and for now there is no way to be certain. I would go for reasonable doubt, not case closed.

If you want to learn a bit more of the lives of the victims and Walter Sickert, this still might be an interesting read. Just beware of the circumstancial evidence and be sure to regularly take a step back and look critically at the conclusions Cornwell draws. I don’t think this was the best example of her work though. I will be reading one of the Kay Scarpetta novels by the same author lined up in my TBR list in the near future so I can see what her fiction writing is like. As for Portrait Of A Killer, for me it’s book closed and locked away…