Friday, 19 June 2015

It's not you, it's me

I remember the first time I ever read a Patricia Cornwell book. I was living in just one of the many grotty flats that I experienced in London, my flatmate was permanently grumpy, we had to wash up by candle light as the kitchen light was broken and the landlord was evil and wouldn't fix it, and I was so skint that I could hardly afford to get to work, much less travel into London for some fun times. There's never been a better time for a book recommendation. Roll up 'Postmortem' by Patricia Cornwell - the first in the Scarpetta series. I hardly drew breath as I wolfed it down like a fine meal, followed very quickly by the next book, and the next, and so on. 

Kay Scarpetta was just this awesome character. She could do everything, quite literally. The characters surrounding here were so fascinating and the story lines so gripping that I clocked up many hours, way past bedtime, just reading one more chapter. As time went by, it reached a point where I couldn't wait for the paperback version to come out and would order the hardback with baited breath, waiting for the thump on the doormat as it arrived. That my friends, is dedication to an author right there. 

Somewhere along the way it all went wrong for Patricia Cornwell. It all started when she killed off one of her major characters, who then might have turned up a few books later. Not quite coming out of the shower like Bobby Ewing (Dallas flashback anyone!) but in a manner that was equally as ridiculous. Then she changed the way she wrote the books. I know! Barmy or what? She went from writing in the first person to this strange third person narrative that made no sense, was incredibly hard to read, and just made no sense. Why Patsy, why? Being a dedicated fan I stuck by her, hoping that she would eventually come to reason and go back to what the fans wanted. After another 2 books like this I gave up the ghost. The love affair was over. It's not you, it's me...

Until last week. I was browsing the library shelves and saw 'Red Mist' and thought okay, let's give her one last try. Well that try is over, and once again, I have reached the painful decision that we are too. By we, I mean me and Patricia Cornwell/Kay Scarpetta (let's face it, they are both the same person!). That early excitement that gripped me is weighed down by the paranoid misery that Scarpetta has become. I waded my way through the 500+ pages quite quickly as the reading is still pretty easy but just so disappointing. There's nothing worse than disappointment. 

I was interested to read after submitting my own review to Goodreads that many of her fans feel the same. Yet they are all sticking by her in the hope that she returns to the glory days. This my friends, is how you continue to make money as an author, even when your books are shoddy. Hopeful fans who yearn for the Scarpetta that once was. Nice one, Patsy. You're onto a winner there. But us? We're through. Over and out. I can't bear it any longer. My farewell to Scarpetta is done. One fan down, but I can't imagine it will make much of an impact. 

Now, in some sort of foolish being hard on myself, I'm doing the same with Kathy Reichs, but I fear she and Tempe Brennan are heading the same way. I'll keep you posted...

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