At Risk by Patricia Cornwell

It could be said that I am was an avid fan of Ms. Cornwell’s writing, with her Kay Scarpetta series being a must read for fans of the murder mystery genre. But, like so may series’, the Scarpetta one got stale & unbelievable. After reading The Book of the Dead I decided that I was not  going to waste my time with any more books from the Scarpetta series, which means that there are 3 Scarpetta books I haven’t read (& am very reluctant to read).

At Risk is the first in a new series of books by Patricia Cornwell, featuring Win (Winston) Garano.  I was really hoping that this was going to be a brilliant series, like the early Scarpetta books were, but it wasn’t. At risk is little better than 200 pages in length – definitely not long enough to develop a plot in a murder mystery or have any kind of character development, which is such a shame because this does have the bone of a fantastic book. Instead, it ends up feeling like something that was hastily thrown together – either that or a poor attempt at a first novel by an as-yet unpublished author.

The story itself sees Win return from Knoxville Tennessee, to Massachusetts (Boston, I think), at the behest of his boss, Monique Lamont. Lamont, who is looking to run for Governor, dreams up an idea to solve cold cases in other states using new cutting edge DNA techniques. Lamont calls the scheme At Risk, with the slogan “Any crime, any time” & chooses a cold case (ironically) from Knoxville as the fist case of the scheme. Garano has the potential to be an excellent lead character, as long as any future books are developed a la Scarpetta, which I understand has not happened.

I appreciate that this was originally published as a serial for The New York Times, but one would have thought that if Cornwell had intended to then publish this as a novel, that she would have fleshed it out & developed the plot, using the serial as the basis for the book, not just shoving it between to hard covers & calling it a book! That didn’t happen, which means that this book left a very sour taste in my mouth & has left me even more reluctant to read any of her future books.


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