Cruel and Unusual ~ Patricia D. Cornwell
After my disastrous experience reading Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell, I decided to go back and re-read the older Kay Scarpetta series to see if my memories of the books were accurate. Cruel and Unusual was the book I was ready to start when Cannonball Read started, so it was the next Scarpetta book I read. It also introduces the antagonist that Kay Scarpetta runs up against in future book and sets the stage for Lucy, Kay's niece to begin playing a larger role in the books.
Cruel and Unusual starts with Scarpetta doing a routine autopsy on an executed prisoner but quickly discovers that not all is as it appears. Someone is also hacking into her computer files at work and she enlists the help of her niece Lucy, who is now 17. Evidence is found that the executed prisoner isn't who they think he was and fingerprints and other evidence shows up after he's dead at fresh crime scenes. Kay, Pete and Benton, along with Lucy's computer skills work on trying to figure out who was actually executed and who the new serial killer is. Lucy's genius behind the computer screen is delved into a little bit more and her character is setup stronger for future books in this one. The actual plot involving Kay and her investigation isn't much different from the plots in other books, but she comes up against some internal roadblocks within the coroners' office and the state government that was nice in adding depth to the story.
There's not too many plot twists or surprises, but it's a decently fun, quick read. The most enjoyable part was the greater role Lucy has and the introduction of Kay's nemesis for the next few books. It's a good book to pop into a bag when catching a flight and if you leave it behind, it won't be a loss. It's not Cornwell's strongest work, but it's also not her worst either.