Summary and book reviews of The Last Precinct by Patricia Cornwell

The Last Precinct

By Patricia Cornwell

The Last Precinct
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2000,
    432 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2001,
    480 pages.

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Book Summary

Continues the story begun in Black Notice

"A character as strong as any in popular fiction, Scarpetta knows the world is evil and often overwhelming, but she continues to rail against it with all her endearing and humane self-righteousness," wrote The Wall Street Journal about Black Notice, the latest in a hot streak of number-one New York Times bestsellers by America's top crime novelist. Now Patricia Cornwell delivers a profoundly original novel that takes her readers deeper into Scarpetta's heart and soul than ever before.

We enter The Last Precinct through the reverberating aftershocks of Black Notice, inconceivably finding Virginia's Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta an object of suspicion-and criminal investigation. And the nightmare perpetuated on Scarpetta's doorstep continues as she discovers that the so-called Werewolf murders may have extended to New York City and into the darkest corners of her past. When a formidable prosecutor, a female assistant district attorney from New York, is brought into the case, Scarpetta must struggle to make what she knows to be the truth prevail against mounting and unnerving evidence to the contrary. Tested in every way, she turns inward to ask, where do you go when there is nowhere left? The answer is The Last Precinct. By the end of the novel, it is clear that Scarpetta's life can never be the same.

Woven through with extraordinary forensic detail, the larger-than-life presence of Scarpetta's niece Lucy and her colleague Captain Pete Marino, and a palpable sense of fear that keeps readers looking back-into the past for clues, and over their shoulders for the next enigmatic act of violence-The Last Precinct marks a new era for Kay Scarpetta and a triumphant achievement for Patricia Cornwell.

Chapter 1

I Know From Lucy's Voice That She Is Scared. Rarely is my brilliant, forceful, helicopter-piloting, fitness-obsessed, federal-law-enforcement-agent niece scared.

"I feel really bad," she continues to repeat herself over the phone as Marino maintains his position on my bed and I pace.

"You shouldn't," I tell her. "The police don't want anybody here, and believe me, you don't want to be here. I guess you're staying with Jo and that's good." I say this to her as if it makes no difference to me, as if it doesn't bother me that she is not here and I haven't seen her all day. It does make a difference. It does bother me. But it is my old habit to give people an out. I don't like to be rejected, especially by Lucy Farinelli, whom I have raised like a daughter.

She hesitates before answering. "Actually, I'm downtown at the Jefferson."

I try to make sense of this. The Jefferson is the grandest hotel in the city, and I don'...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Cornwell will win few if any new fans with this overlong, sluggish offering, but her giant readership is so hardcore and so enamored of Kay that the publisher's first printing of one million seems, if anything, conservative.

Library Journal

[R]eally Part 2 of Black Notice, her previous work in this series.... This may be Cornwell's least action-oriented, most reflective work featuring Scarpetta. Readers unfamiliar with the series may find it confusing, but fans will want to read it.

Reader Reviews
auntbee

The Big Whine
I've really enjoyed the Scarpetta series, mostly for the interesting characters and the amount of education I get from them. Black Notice was riveting, but seemed to begin a decline in the strength of the characters and a fascination with the morbid...   Read More

Ryan

I am 13 and I found The Last Preicinct to be one of Patricia Cornwells best books, I have admired the way that she writes about the legend that is Dr Kay Scarpetta for ages now and I think The Last Precinct was one of the most moving books which I ...   Read More

Tabatha

I think that the book showed great emotion. It was a compelling sort of life story that makes you want to live with them. I've read thousands of books and very few are moving. Very few make you feel the compassion of the writer. But I think that this...   Read More

Lynda

I have read, no devoured, the entire Kay Scarpetta series over the past year. I have enjoyed Kay as a character who is smart, caring, assertive, honest - possesses all the qualities that every woman could want. Here, with what could possibly be the ...   Read More

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