Postmortem is a novel by Patricia Cornwell originally written in 1990 and has since been revived with a brand new cover. Credit where it is due, it is said to be the first novel of its kind, that being a forensics crime thriller, but despite this, I wasn’t too impressed.
The main character of Postmortem is Dr Kay Scarpetta who is an intelligent medical examiner in her forties. She is unmarried having chosen instead to dedicate her life to her job. As a character she was a bit “meh” and I didn’t really care about how she ended up because there was no development and her personality wasn’t given an opportunity to shine. A niece of hers comes to stay with her while Kay’s flighty author sister has flings with unsuitable men and Kay relies on a casual babysitter to entertain her geeky charge while she works relentlessly. Her niece is unremarkable and a bit annoying to read about but will end up playing two key roles towards the end.
Postmortem is an interesting take on forensics because it explores the usage of DNA in medical examinations before it was as popular as it is now. Another historical point about the novel is that it was written whilst computers were still in relatively infantile stages and mobile phones were not really around yet.
I took longer than I would have liked reading this book because quite frankly, it was boring and I didn’t enjoy it. The constant focus on medical terms and red tape procedures were boredom-inducing and seemed to take precedence over the story and there is very little character development. I didn’t engage with any of the characters. I felt like Cornwell used this book to gloat upon her forensics knowledge with her big words and affluent scientific language and it was eye-rollingly tiresome, unfortunately. There was no real excitement til the end of the book and I finished it quickly, devouring the rest of the story while I had a rare peaked interest.
The book, which is as I mentioned before a rehashed version of the original, informs the reader that the series of novels (I can say with confidence that I won’t bother investing in the following works) is being made into a film starring Angelina Jolie as Scarpetta. I must confess that I hope the movie will be better than the book because it can’t get any worse. Unless it was rewritten by Martine McCutcheon.