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Monday, April 8, 2013

Port Mortuary


Lots of things have changed since last I saw Kay Scarpetta. In Patricia Cornwell’s Port Mortuary, Kay is married to Benton, an FBI agent, Marino is still his offish self, and Lucy owns a helicopter and seems to being black ops for the FBI. She is  now living in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is at the Cambridge Forensic Center (CFC). Kay is in the middle of things as always. As she is whisked away from Dover AFB to Cambridge the intrigue begins with a bizarre murder near her home, a child’s death, and incompetence at all levels. Just another day in the life of Kay Scarpetta. We are introduced to interesting weapons, UGV’s (Unmanned ground vehicles) nail guns, other interesting vehicles, and coincidences. The six degrees of separation are common in this sleep deprived story.
Speaking of the six degrees, when Lucy says to her aunt about Marino: “It’s not about trust. It’s about acknowledging limitations.” (page 77) That struck as I had just been reading about that was mentioned in The Visioneers and how the technology of this story reminds me of the technology in that story. As Kay is contemplating her round building and thinking of Buckminster Fuller she is thinking about he would like her building but “I don’t agree with his belief that technology can save us. Certainly, it isn’t making us more civilized, and I actually think the opposite is true.” (page 181). This is interesting after seeing how the technology actually did help us as we learned in Across Atlantic Ice and again in The Visioneers. And of course how she and Lucy work the technology in this story and reminisce about that trip they took to London to see a da Vinci exhibit at the Courtauld, an exhibit a dead man found in Norton’s Woods may have been to as well. At a previous CNN appearance the interviewer said, “Autobotsies.” To which Kay responded, “I beg your pardon.” “Robotic autopsies. Someday they’ll take your place.” Perhaps being clairvoyant  in 2010 because in the March Atlantic Monthly read all about it in “The Robot will see you now, Is your doctor becoming obsolete?” We learn that tinkering, the hot topic of The Tinkerers and The Visioneers, can also get you killed. Lots of nanotechnology yak yak too. Not coincidences, but the six degrees of separation seem to engulf us all.
Cornwell did commit one of the most egregious sins in this story(page 428). She used the oft misquote of Emerson to try to make a point and blew it. The mistake is to omit the word “foolish.” Emerson said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Oftentimes people forget to use the word “foolish” when they want to use this excellent quote but for the wrong reason. By simply forgetting “foolish” it makes consistency a bad thing, whereas consistency isn’t bad, it is “foolish” consistency that is bad and there is a huge difference. 


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