I have suffered through the horror of her multitude of gruesome cases and the equal horror of her detailed descriptions of cooking delicious Italian meals (why do I NEVER have fresh bread, olive oil and bocconcini in my kitchen at the same time!).
If I'm honest though, I have found over time the story lines have become less engaging and (if this is possible) less credible.
Like a medical Jessica Fletcher, Kay Scarpetta has found herself deeply and personally involved in all her cases, often being herself the target of the serial killer du jour, before of course, finding resolution at the end.
The opening sequence is dark, moody and fraught with emotion, reminding the reader that this book is firmly entrenched in a series and not a 'stand alone', indeed much of the book references (not unnecessarily) emotional upheaval in past Scarpetta instalments.
Told from Scarpetta's first person perspective, 'Dust' succeeds in quickly immersing the reader in a dark and compelling plot. Suspense builds with equal speed as Scarpetta moves from opening scenes; sick and overwhelmed alone in the early hours of the morning, awoken by the ringing of her phone; to crime scene, lab and secondary crime scene with barely a break for a slice of Pizza in between.
As a reader, we do not learn details any sooner than Scarpetta herself, creating a 'hand held' camera effect as we follow her at a relentless pace through a day becoming more harrowing by the minute.
Scarpetta steps outside her studiously 'correct' comfort zone in 'Dust' and it is a welcome character development, making Kay seem 'fresher' than you may expect after so many books. This character growth extends to the ever 'offendable' (yes I am allowed to make words up) Pete Marino, who might just be growing up.... a (very) little bit.
The pace of the novel is brisk, with the majority of the action taking place over a scant twenty four hours and I admit I was so engrossed I read it in less time than that!
I have been pleasantly surprised that Cornwell can still hook me in early and keep me reading long after my eyes are begging me to take a break.
If you have been a Scarpetta fan, who like me had felt a little jaded by the series, I would recommend giving 'Dust' a read; just make sure you block out the day first, because you will not want to put it down.
Dust is available through Amazon.com; if you are interesting in purchasing the following link will direct you to the site page: