View Full Version : Anyone read Patricia Cornwell? (spoiler)

08-29-2001, 03:14 AM
I was discussing the ending of Cause of Death with my FIL. Spoiler:

The cult barricades itself in a nuclear plant, or whatever you call it. Conveniently, there's a decontamination tank that is an athletic-sized swimming pool...filled with radioactive water. It's never explained how (lame!), but the cult leader falls in; his people drag him out, but he never regains consciouness and dies an hour or so later. His people said he couldn't swim, which caused me some frustration: besides the payoff being foreshortened, it wasn't clear whether it was the radiation that killed him, or just near-drowning.

FIL and I agree that whether the guy could swim or not was irrelevant. I think, if you're submerged in radioactive water, you're dead; in fact, it might be less agonizing to drown than to get radioactive poisoning. FIL says it might be a moot point; that level of exposure might render a person unconscious immediately, so even Mark Spitz would have been as dead as this guy.

(So what would be the effects of this? I don't know the level of radiation in this instance.)

In any event, it seems like it would have been more dramatic if the accident had happened "onscreen". I would have had him fall in, swim out with ease, shrug it off on the grounds that there's nothing a messiah can't handle, and then collapse.

Why don't I get down to writing?

08-29-2001, 05:20 AM
Granted it might have been more dramatic that way, but the books are written from Scarpetta's p.o.v. and, since she was pretty much out of it at that time, she didn't see it. Things happen off stage, and that's all there is to it. FWIW, I'm not fond of a p.o.v. character who sees everything that happens, just because rl doesn't happen that way, and because it smacks a little of an author who's afraid of plot holes and uses the omniscient pov to cover for them.

Must go back and re-read that, I think - I enjoyed it.

08-29-2001, 02:31 PM
This is another good candidate for the new Cafe Society forum.

moderator, GQ

08-29-2001, 04:11 PM

Technically, you can't spoil a Patricia Cornwell book for much the same reason that you can't spoil ten day old Florida roadkill.

08-29-2001, 04:23 PM
I did read Cause of Death but I honestly can't remember much of it - much of what you are saying sounds alot like the reason I don't read her much anymore. I loved things like Body of Evidence and her really early books (I think that was one) but it seemed like the last ones I read she built up to a climax and said "And then the bad guy tripped and Scarpetta took everyone to her house for a lavish Italian dinner... blah, blah, blah"
Sucks, too, becaue I really enjoyed her books before. Then I had to switch to Sue Grafton for my Sunday morning reading pleasure.
Yeah, I know it's not Shakespeare. Sue me.

08-29-2001, 10:10 PM
I was so disappointed with The Last Precient that I will not read another Kay Scarpetta book.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.