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Product Description

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, now freelancing from south Florida, returns to the city that turned its back on her five years ago. In Trace, Scarpetta travels to Richmond, Virginia, at the odd behest of the recently appointed Chief Medical Examiner, who claims that he needs her help to solve a perplexing crime. When she arrives, however, Scarpetta finds that nothing is as she expected: her former lab is in the final stages of demolition; the inept chief isn't the one who requested her after all; her old assistant chief has developed personal problems that he won't reveal; and a glamorous FBI agent, whom Marino dislikes instantly, meddles with the case. Deprived of assistance from colleagues Benton and Lucy, who are embroiled in what first appears to be an unrelated attempted rape by a stalker, Scarpetta is faced with investigating the death of a fourteen-year-old girl, working with the smallest pieces of evidence--traces that only the most thorough hunters can identify. She must follow the twisting leads and track the strange details in order to make the dead speak--and to reveal the sad truth that may be more than even she can bear.

Customer Reviews:

  • Awesome Read!
    This was a good book that I enjoyed reading. It tells it's own story of autopsy procedure's, which I enjoy reading about. Also about flying helicopter's, and about things that happen to Lucy's girlfriend. Scarpetta's former lab is partically demolished. This is a good read, keep them coming Cornwell!...more info
  • Great read for murder/mystery fanatics!
    If you're into the Scarpetta series, this is a must have. This book is just as good as the others in the series and just makes you want to read more and more. I read this book in about 24 hours, I couldn't put it down! Patricia Cornwell is an amazing author!...more info
  • Trace.....of what?
    I am not sure what has happened to this truly amazing writer's books---- this work plus those that followed have lowered the bar of excellence to the ground....more info
  • Who Knows
    Since I have a Kindle that worked 4 times I am unable to read or review this book. Of course I did pay for it....more info
  • A Mere Trace of Evidence
    Dr. Scarpetta is on the trail of a killer again. This time, a mere trace of evidence, a trace so small, most would never find it, is the key to solving the mystery killer of a young girl. Politics, red tape, and uncooperative assistants make finding this trace nearly impossible. The characters are well-developed and intriguing. Sadly, the mystery involved in solving the crime is not very challenging to the reader, and leaves some readers feeling dissatisfied. Because of this, I don't plan to give the other Scarpetta mysteries a try....more info
  • Boring!
    Cornwell's first novels (not Scarpetta) were really rather boring and I couldn't finish them. The Scarpetta novels really built up into some incredible writing and several were quite good and entertaining, but now I believe Cornwell has run out of good new plot lines. Unfortunately, I found this novel as dull as her originals before she learned to really write. Time for a break. I'm not buying anymore of them....more info
  • A Skuttled Novel
    I have to agree with most of the other reviewers in saying this was quite a let-down. Another apt title would be "A Burden of Details", since this is what this novel is full of--too many, and irrelevant details that drag and, right at the end, an ill-fitting Disney ending that falls flat on its face. Oh dear Cornwell, you know you can do better than this. ...more info
  • I Just Knew Scarpetta Would End Up In Richmond Again
    Trace, $7.99 US, will delight avid mystery readers. If you haven't been following this series, I'm pleased to update you. Dr. Kay Scarpetta has already vacated Virginia to work from her Florida residence, on a freelance basis, after being fired unexpectedly just a few installments back. Therefore, it's refreshing to see Scarpetta revisit her old stomping grounds -- with a new set of eyes -- when she's called upon by her replacement, Dr. Joel Marcus, to assist in a peculiar death investigation that finds him, quite literally, stumped. A fourteen-year-old girl was found dead in bed, not a mark on her. Naturally, Kay's very curious about Joel, his case, and of course she wants to see what's changed in Richmond in her absence. Unbelievably, Scarpetta takes the bait once Dr. Marcus offers it.

    Readers will find out that Scarpetta's former lab is partially demolished when she arrives; that the inept Dr. Marcus isn't behind her being summoned to the bleak city that she once called home, the city that she's written off. Scarpetta's also befuddled when a sophisticated FBI agent -- Karen Weber -- starts meddling around in the Gilly Paulsson case, her former bosses career, and her own personal business, due to cross-contamination of trace evidence from two separate autopsies. Scarpetta pokes around the girl's home, trying to understand the strange relationship between Gilly's divorced parents, Frank and Suz Paulsson. Things are further complicated when Scarpetta's investigates Ted Whitby's case. What could the job site accident of a man run over by a tractor (the cross-contamination) have to do with Gilly's death by stalker?

    As far as villains, Cornwell gives us a new one. This one's aptly named Edgar Allan Pogue, and he'll give Scarpetta conniption fits before she's finished. First, the guy is really unstable. Second, he's asthmatic and prone to the flu, but the idiot won't give up his cherished cigars. Third, he has creepy conversations in his head, with his dead mother, who's always scolding him. Fourth, he's a rather prolific stalker that might be responsible for Gilly's death. Fifth, Scarpetta and Pogue share a past connection; they used to work in the same building a decade ago. Sixth, Pogue has fled Richmond and relocated (to Hollywood) near to where Scarpetta resides. Coincidence? It's a very clever construct -- on Cornwell's part -- that Pogue's predilection for cigars is the thing that ultimately brings him down.

    Cornwell is best when concentrating upon the externally tough but inwardly fragile Scarpetta, but she also possesses an uncanny knack for exploring the human condition. Whether she's writing about eating habits, male machismo, professional incompetence, second marriages, sexual harassment, shabby bars or affluent enclaves, Cornwell pushes the reader around -- her gift for subtle nuance is manifest -- and finds a way to crawl deep (so deep) under their skin. I'm really starting to enjoy the widening cast of supporting characters that she's woven; Pete Marino, the wily Rudy Musil, off-kilter Henri Walden, Benton Wesley, and that younger niece Lucy. Especially Lucy, who is so unsure of herself. She's an enigma, that one. After reading Trace, I'm also bound to inquire about Andy Brazil, which is an older minor series that Patricia's penned.

    Every reader will probably like Trace. Its enjoyable seeing Cornwell push her protagonist in innovative directions, with her crime writing. If you're pleased with this particular outing, you should check out Predator, which is the fourteenth title in the Scarpetta series, as it features more of the misadventures of Kay's niece, the incorrigible Lucy. One more thing I'd like to say about Cornwell too is this; she delivers real bang for the buck! Running 401 pages, I found that I had to take frequent breaks while reading Trace, but I had no trouble finding the desire to finish the novel. Please note, however, that I wish Cornwell would write trimmer Scarpetta books at a more frequent pace. If you like sharp fiction from Edgar award-winning authors, this paperback is right up your alley. ...more info
  • Another Good Scarpetta Novel
    Scarpetta returns to Richmond to help out the new medical examiner solve a strange death while healing old wounds and opening new ones. Again I don't know why people did not enjoy this book; Cornwell does a very good job. This novel begins with Scarpetta seeing her old office being torn down. This sets the mood for a very dark novel. In Richmond she finds out the new M.E. is not very good and her office is a mess because of him. She learns that if the mayor hadn't been so corrupt and fired her that she could have gotten along with the new mayor. All this hurts Scarpetta, but being her old self decides to make the best of it and solve this death of a 13 year old girl. This death has some connections with the trouble Lucy is having in Florida.

    This book shows how the characters start to climb back up the ladder. In the awesome Blow Fly the characters had a fall from grace. In Trace they are getting it back, but of course not without hitting a couple bumps first. Scarpetta is spunky, strong, and back to her old self. Every body mostly is. Except for Lucy who so confused because she is having feelings for Rudy which can't be, not supposed to be, which makes it all the better.

    For people who have missed the forensics in recent books they are here. Scarpetta is working in her territory. With fingerprints, trace evidence, and of course plenty of autopsies, and plenty more, there is also a great villain in Trace. Edgar Allen Pouge wears a wig and carries a baseball bat (don't want to know where it came from).

    This is not a complaint, but this book relates a lot to The Body Farm. The similarities are that Marnio gets involved with the victim's mother again, the victim is a young girl, and Lucy gets into a relationship with a psycho, all that happens in The Body Farm and Trace. My only reason for giving this book 4 stars is that I was hoping to get more about Benton. I mean I wondered how his family reacted or what he was doing after he came out of hiding. I mean it's not everyday that a big FBI agent dies then comes back to life. Some other things is that if people complain about the ending is too quick. Well I have noticed that all of Patricia Cornwell's books have quick, usually rushed ending. This one is not as bad as All That Remains. Also I think its funny how Cornwell thinks that readers can start with any book in the series. But I think that out of all the series that I read the Scarpetta series is the one that you need to read in order to really understand the characters.

    Trace is another great installment in the Scarpetta series and Cornwell is still trying new things and is growing as an author.
    ...more info
  • Disappointed
    I am a big fan of Patricia Cornwell and her Kay Scarpetta mysteries. I was very disappointed in this book. I was looking forward to Benton, Lucy, Kay and Marino working together again. Instead the plot bounced everywhere. I skipped pages of narrative just so I could get to the end quickly. I was looking forward to reading Predator but now I'm afraind I will be disappointed again....more info
  • A Mere Trace of Evidence
    Dr. Scarpetta is on the trail of a killer again. This time, a mere trace of evidence, a trace so small, most would never find it, is the key to solving the mystery killer of a young girl. Politics, red tape, and uncooperative assistants make finding this trace nearly impossible. The characters are well-developed and intriguing. Sadly, the mystery involved in solving the crime is not very challenging to the reader, and leaves some readers feeling dissatisfied. Because of this, I don't plan to give the other Scarpetta mysteries a try....more info
  • Written in the present tense
    Why, oh why did Patricia Cornwell write this book in the present tense? This strange affectation makes the story harder to follow and much less enjoyable than anything of Cornwell's that I have read before....more info
  • My first Patricia Cornwell
    I'd never read a Patricia Cornwell before, but someone had recently recommended her books. So when I saw TRACE for sale, I bought it and read it.
    The story was quite good. But there were so many holes, like "uh, did I miss something" where I guess that's her style that you're just supposed to figure things out.
    I really hated the character Lucy and wished the murderer would kill her too. Oh well. Maybe these are characters that loyal readers have come to care for, but I wanted to push Lucy off a cliff, Benton & Henrietta too for that matter. How does a smart woman like Kay Scarpetta get all these losers in her life?
    Very good plot, satisfying murder mystery, interesting characters. I'd read another of Cornwell's books, but I think I'll start at the beginning....more info
  • Unlucky 13?
    This is Cornwell's 13th Scarpetta novel and while some of the old magic is still there in terms of her accurate descriptions of how the medical examiner's office works, the characters are less than likable. Marino is slowly becoming self-destructive; Scarpetta seems weary of everything pathology-related; and Lucy mopes, much as she does in the previous 12 novels.

    I really wish the author hadn't branched out into writing nonfiction about Jack the Ripper or other fiction series (the Andy Brazil novels) and just stuck with Scarpetta and company. When Lucy became self-destructive in earlier novels, I felt bad for her; now I just want someone to slap some sense into her. Marino, one of the best fictional sidekicks ever, is slowly disintegrating in Cornwell's hand.

    Even the plot in this novel, which concerns the death of a 14-year-old girl whose family has ties to Homeland Security, plods along without any of the urgency of previous novels. It feels as though Cornwell is just going through the motions and, as a loyal reader of her work, it's ultimately disappointing. ...more info
    I have been an avid reader of the Scarpetta Series by Patricia Cornwell. Ms. Cornwell is my absolute favorite writer. I have already read TRACE and am presently reading PREDATOR. Once a book is started, I have to consciously remind myself that there are other things that demand my attention besides reading these novels. I must say that the stories need to be read in sequence or the lives and adventures of the characters will be lost and not understood. Each story either continues into the next book or a new twist / adventure is discovered. Being in the medical profession, I thoroughly enjoy the medical/forensic discussions between Scarpetta, Wesley and Marino. There hasn't been a single story line that hasn't brought to light information that is extremely fascinating. Again, bravo to Ms. Cornwell for such fabulous novels. Please don't stop writing the Scarpetta Series....more info
  • ??
    For the greater part of the book, I was thrilled. Cornwell seemed to have finally gotten a grasp on the present-tense style (why she switched, I'll never know...). It played out like an episode of Columbo: we know who the killer is already, and we tie things together long before Scarpetta et al do.

    The last few chapters though...was she rushing to meet a publication deadline? The ending was so abrupt, with so many threads left untied. What's up with Fielding? Or Marcus? Or Rudy? Or Dr. Paulsson? Or Mrs. Paulsson? The idea of Paulsson being a DoD snitch dwindled, and nothing ever happened with the FBI agent... And lastly, WHY was the girl murdered?!?! Almost all these things are mentioned in the book description and yet...none are answered.

    My initial reaction was "Okay, perhaps this is a two-parter, a la "From Potter's Field" and "The Body Farm". Granted, I haven't yet read Predator. But I just read the description and it seems none of these questions are going to be answered.

    Cornwell's got a new series coming out, one that sounds so much like the Scarpetta series that I can't help but wonder...could this be the end of Dr. Kay Scarpetta? :(

    P.S. To a reader below: This is most definitely NOT the first time Marino's feelings for Scarpetta have been explicitly acknowledged. And Kay is most certainly not "in the dark" about those feelings...we've been made well aware of both those facts pretty much since she became involved with Benton....more info
  • Don't waste your time
    My first and last Cornwell novel. No plot, no suspense, a complete waste of time....more info
  • Okay, Enough of the Dumb Back Stories!
    Each time I pick up a new Scarpetta novel, I am filled with hope that Patricia Cornwell will return to the style of the early novels that made me fall in love with the series. Sadly, this novel, like so many of the recent ones, is another big disappointment.

    I'm not even going to bother trying to give a plot summary because it's hardly worth the effort. Yes, there's a disturbing murder of a 14-year-old girl, but it hardly counts for anything in this book. Instead we have the usual Lucy angst because her lover, Henri (Henrietta), was attacked and won't talk to her. We also have Scarpetta angst because Benton Wesley faked his death for years and didn't tell her. Wesley has angst as well because he's still keeping secrets from Scarpetta and Lucy. And why are Wesley and Lucy keeping the fact that Henri was attacked such a big secret from Scarpetta? Why don't these people just TALK to each other? Since they keep getting interrupted on the phone, then maybe they could try emailing each other.

    Oh yeah, there's also Marino angst, with his long time crush on Scarpetta and a really bizarre "rough sex" scene involving him and the mother of the victim.

    As usual, even though Scarpetta is a respected expert in forensic analysis, the bureaucrats are out to get her. She is summoned to her old ME office in Virginia to work on the case involving the 14-year-old girl and faces overt hostility by Dr. Joel Marcus, her successor. He calls her in to help with the case but doesn't even have the grace to pretend he's happy to have her there. Of course, the office has become a shambles under his direction-- but nobody seems to care that the man hired to replace the brilliant Scarpetta is incompetent.

    The book ends abruptly and the reader is left shaking his/her head and asking, "What the heck just happened?" I wish Cornwell would dump Lucy-- she grows more annoying with each book; quit making all her plots revolve around Scarpetta's bizzare little circle of friends/lovers/family members; have Scarpetta and Wesley either work things out or give it up; and give Marino a girlfriend so he can stop salivating over Scarpetta. And while we're at it, let's have the bureaucrats recognize Scarpetta's brilliance and quit fighting her while she does what they hire her to do.

    I can't quite give up on this series yet, because the books were just so good in the past. But it's getting harder and harder to keep reading them, and I no longer move them to the top of my reading stack.

    ...more info
  • Bad, really bad
    This novel starts off slow and then just runs out of what little steam it began with. The characters are progressively unappealing and Cornwell slides more and more right wing, if not down right racist, commentary into her books. The supposedly loveable Marino has to stop himself from saying he takes his coffee like his women "white" and the thinly veiled comments about inner city dwellers is likewise mean spirited. Frankly, by the end of this book I did not care if they all died in a multi- car wreck, and I doubt anyone else did either....more info
  • Huh? What Happened?
    I finished TRACE last night and am still wondering what happened. The book was going along at a slow pace and then just stopped. It ended, nothing more, no anticipation or happiness that the villain was captured, no emotional stirrings about Scarpetta and Benton, or Lucy, nothing.

    Patricia Cornwell continues the life and times of Kay Scarpetta in TRACE. Scarpetta is a medical examiner who returns to her Richmond office five years after she's fired to consult on a case. Seems a 14-year-old girl, Gilly, has died and they cannot find a cause of death. Dr. Joel Marcus is Scarpetta's successor and is ugly - he has a vengeance for Scarpetta and part of the reason for him asking her to consult on the case is so he can lord over her and show her that this turf is no longer hers.

    As Scarpetta returns to Richmond, we get to see Dr. Fielding who was once Scarpetta's right hand man in the autopsy wing. Instead of the vibrant man he was when she left, he has become someone much different. We're never given a reason to the changes in Fielding and it was very frustrating as it left me wondering why he stopped being a body builder and why he had such terrible allergies that his skin looked raw. And more importantly, why he has stopped being thorough on his cases. Instead of Cornwell giving us the answers, she has Fielding quitting and that's the end of him.

    Marino continues to be dominant in this series, but changes in him are brushed over also. We aren't told why he has become a health nut, or if he's happy working for Lucy at The Last Precinct. We're told very little about what is going on with him, other than towards the end of the book when we're told a doctor informed him he had to quit smoking.

    Benton has a few pages devoted to him but those scenes were so boring I shook my head. Benton was resurrected from the dead and instead of working on his failing relationship with Scarpetta, he's helping Lucy deprogram one of her agents who was brutally attacked.

    And since I mentioned Lucy, she's back again but it's a strange side plot. Her friend is attacked in her home and there are so many threads left dangling at the end that I was actually confused. Lucy isn't talking to Scarpetta and again we're not told why. But she is talking to Marino and Benton, but that is also a mystery. And little is told about her business but a "training camp" is referred to and nothing more.

    Cornwell could have used help with this outline and the result would have been much more entertaining. She jumps from scene to scene and the entire book doesn't flow; there's no meat to this story. This left more unanswered questions than necessary. Why did Dr. Joel Marcus have a garbage truck phobia? Why is Rudy frustrated with Lucy? Why is Benton helping Lucy instead of trying to get Scarpetta to love him again? Why is Marino slimming down, looking better, etc? And on and on...

    With the use of a back story, the reader does understand a bit but not enough. All of a sudden, Marino catches the killer, but the footwork leading to this is not there and it just happens. It was so anticlimactic that the last 50 pages were difficult to read.

    Overall, TRACE is not worth the time to peruse. I'd suggest picking up a copy at the local library instead of purchasing it if you must read it to continue the series. It was like being at a party with hundreds of guests and only getting a fleeting glimpse at the people you really want to visit. So be prepared for a let down. Someone tell Patricia Cornwell to return to what worked for when she wrote the previous books in this series!
    ...more info