Friday, October 22, 2010

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell
The novel opens up as Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner for the state of Virginia, recieves an early-morning call from Sergeant Pete Marino, a homicide dectective at the Richmond Police Department. She meets him at the scene of a women's gruesome strangling, the latest in a string of unsolved murders in Richmond. The killer leaves behind few clues; among them are a mysterious substance that sparkles under laser light, traces of DNA, and the newest clue, an usual smell. Scarpetta and Marino work with FBI profiler Benton Wesley to attempt to piece together a profile of the killer. Some evidence seems to point to the fourth victims husband, but Scarpetta doens't believe it, despite Marino's insistence. Although they have some DNA, DNA profiling is a relatively new technique so there is no DNA database to compare the DNA to. Meanwhile in her personal life, Scarpetta must deal with the presenfde of her ten year old neice, Lucy, as well as an uncertain romanic relationship with the local Commonewealth's attorney. During the investigation, a series of news leaks about the murders appear to be coming from a source within the medical examiner's office. The leaks threaten Scarpetta's position, especially after she is forced to admit that someone has hacked her office database. The need to finding the killer increases as the killings become closer together, and more violent. The fifth victim, is the sister of the local investigative reporter Abby Turnbull. Believing the killer thrives on media attention and hoping to expose him by making him angry, Scarpetta, Wesley and Turnbull decide to release a news story that suggests that the killer has a distinctive body odor due to a rare metabolic disease and implies that the killer may be mentally disordered. While attempting to find a link between the five murders, Scarpetta discovers that all five victims had recently called 911, and realizes the killer chooses his victims based on their voices. As she looks deeper, she realizes who the killer must be. However, she doesn't know that the news story has angered the killer so much, that she may before the sixth victim.
Discussion Questions:
1). Throughout the novel Scarpetta reveals how difficult it is for her to spend time with Lucy, on top of revealing that she doesn't have time to have a husband or kids of her own because her job is so demanding. Would you ever consider a career that could keep you from creating a family of your own?
2). Scarpetta's frustration for the lack of evidence and the increasing killings is obvious throughout the novel. Have you ever been extremely frustrated with something you can't figure out? What was this situation and how did you eventually figure it out?


allie s 11-12 said...

1)Well to answer the first question, i wouldn't choose a career that could keep me from creating a family. I love my family, and one day i would like to create one. But i guess if i truly loved doing something that would take a lot of my time then i would have a hard time deciding. But because i would like to be a teacher hopefully i don't have to choose, because i would choose family.

Allie H 11-12 said...

Regarding discussion question # 1, I do not think I would be able to choose a demending job over having a family. Although having a job I love and that I am passionate about would be very fulfilling, I have experienced the concequences of choosing career over family. My uncle spent his years after college working his way up in his career as a business man. He makes a lot of money now, but he missed out on the opportunity to have children. Although his life is great, I still think he regrets not having children. On other hand, my mother (his sister) focused more on her family rather than career choices. She seems more fulfilled knowing she raised two children from birth rather than focusing on money and work. I think I would rather have a family to focus my energy on, unless I was extremely passionate about my career.

JessieW 11-12 said...

Allie S, i know aht you mean. I think i would also have a hard time choosing if i loved a career alot. I also want to create a family one day, and raise my kids. i would have a hard time leaving my kids alot to go to work.

JessieW 11-12 said...

Allie h, yeah i think you're uncle is sad he missed out on having kids. i mean when we went to San Fran he pretty much treated us like his kids! it would be hard knowing you worked so much that you missed out on have kids. he choose a good wife though. i don't think i would ever be able to do what he did.