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At Risk

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A Massachusetts state investigator is called home from Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is completing a course at the National Forensic Academy. His boss, the district attorney, attractive but hard-charging, is planning to run for governor, and as a showcase she's planning to use a new crime initiative called At Risk; its motto: "Any crime, any time." In particular, she's be A Massachusetts state investigator is called home from Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is completing a course at the National Forensic Academy. His boss, the district attorney, attractive but hard-charging, is planning to run for governor, and as a showcase she's planning to use a new crime initiative called At Risk; its motto: "Any crime, any time." In particular, she's been looking for a way to employ cutting-edge DNA technology, and she thinks she's found the perfect subject in an unsolved twenty-year-old murder—in Tennessee. If her office solves the case, it ought to make them all look pretty good, right? Her investigator is not so sure—not sure about anything to do with this woman, really—but before he can open his mouth, a shocking piece of violence intervenes, an act that shakes up not only both their lives but also the lives of everyone around them. It's not a random event. Is it personal? Is it professional? Whatever it is, the implications are very, very bad indeed ... and they're about to get much worse. Sparks fly, traps spring, twists abound—this is the master working at the top of her game.


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A Massachusetts state investigator is called home from Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is completing a course at the National Forensic Academy. His boss, the district attorney, attractive but hard-charging, is planning to run for governor, and as a showcase she's planning to use a new crime initiative called At Risk; its motto: "Any crime, any time." In particular, she's be A Massachusetts state investigator is called home from Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is completing a course at the National Forensic Academy. His boss, the district attorney, attractive but hard-charging, is planning to run for governor, and as a showcase she's planning to use a new crime initiative called At Risk; its motto: "Any crime, any time." In particular, she's been looking for a way to employ cutting-edge DNA technology, and she thinks she's found the perfect subject in an unsolved twenty-year-old murder—in Tennessee. If her office solves the case, it ought to make them all look pretty good, right? Her investigator is not so sure—not sure about anything to do with this woman, really—but before he can open his mouth, a shocking piece of violence intervenes, an act that shakes up not only both their lives but also the lives of everyone around them. It's not a random event. Is it personal? Is it professional? Whatever it is, the implications are very, very bad indeed ... and they're about to get much worse. Sparks fly, traps spring, twists abound—this is the master working at the top of her game.

30 review for At Risk

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alcy_girl

    This wasn't a book in the Scarpetta series, and I had been finding those getting worse with each new novel, so I thought that something fresh may be better to read. Nope! I honestly don't like her writing anymore. I don't know if it is the writing that has changed or whether it is me that is changing. I do know that my reading has been a lot broader now than when I first started reading PC, so maybe that is it. In At Risk, I struggled to follow the plot line. I was confused a lot, and felt that I This wasn't a book in the Scarpetta series, and I had been finding those getting worse with each new novel, so I thought that something fresh may be better to read. Nope! I honestly don't like her writing anymore. I don't know if it is the writing that has changed or whether it is me that is changing. I do know that my reading has been a lot broader now than when I first started reading PC, so maybe that is it. In At Risk, I struggled to follow the plot line. I was confused a lot, and felt that I ws meant to know more about the characters without her telling me about them. I was glad to finish it, but still felt that I didn't really know what had happened and why..............

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Crap. First of all, it uses the rather unprofessional format of present tense grammar. I'm supposing the author intended this to give the story a sense of immediacy and urgency; it just made it sound like it was being related by a Valley-Girl. The story plodded, large sections of what I would have considered important action are skipped over, scenes jump around with no sense or reason, and it was just plain not exciting. Reminder: Just because something gets on the Best Seller's list does not mean Crap. First of all, it uses the rather unprofessional format of present tense grammar. I'm supposing the author intended this to give the story a sense of immediacy and urgency; it just made it sound like it was being related by a Valley-Girl. The story plodded, large sections of what I would have considered important action are skipped over, scenes jump around with no sense or reason, and it was just plain not exciting. Reminder: Just because something gets on the Best Seller's list does not mean it has any quality, whatsoever.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Shifting gears, Patricia Cornwell pens a novella that introduces readers to a new character with many unique features. Winston Garano works for the Massachusetts State Police, assigned to liaise closely with one of the most power-hungry women who possesses the title of District Attorney. With her eyes on the Governor's Mansion, she will stop at nothing to get a leg up, literally. While Garano is studying at the National Forensics Academy, he is summoned back from Knoxville to attend to some pres Shifting gears, Patricia Cornwell pens a novella that introduces readers to a new character with many unique features. Winston Garano works for the Massachusetts State Police, assigned to liaise closely with one of the most power-hungry women who possesses the title of District Attorney. With her eyes on the Governor's Mansion, she will stop at nothing to get a leg up, literally. While Garano is studying at the National Forensics Academy, he is summoned back from Knoxville to attend to some pressing business. The DA has decided she wants to toss her hat into the ring for the upcoming gubernatorial race and needs an edge. She's created a new program she calls At Risk, utilising the up-and-coming technology of DNA analysis and seeks to apply it to an old case that might earn her praise and recognition. Funny enough, this case is a murder down in Tennessee, which will allow Garano to continue his studies while bolstering the DA's image. Dismissing it, Garano mumbles to himself and prepares to head back south when a violent crime hits close to home and he receives a mysterious phone call about this new case, both of which propel him into action. Working alongside a fellow classmate and current Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent, Garano slowly commences piecing it all together. However, the crime in Massachusetts stinks to high heaven as well, forcing him to spend some time looking into this. What was an attempt to help smaller police forces may be a political battle for Massachusetts Governor and Garano cannot be in the middle of it. Cornwell does well in showing off her new crime minion in this shorter story, pulling readers into the fray with the greatest of ease. It is said you write what you know, which is how Cornwell created and mastered such a wonderful character in Kay Scarpetta. With Winston Garano, things flow nicely and his backstory is one that is surely intriguing, but even with a hook such as his mixed African America/Italian heritage, he does not hold a candle to the great Scarpetta. I felt as though the story sought to skim the water, a filler, perhaps, between writing assignments, as it does not have the pizzazz for which Cornwell is known. I admit to using this novel to fill a small period of time before I launch myself into a larger project. The development of characters is decent enough and the story flows smoothly, though it seems to drift along in spots, as though there is nothing to hold it together and no impetus to draw the story out into areas not foreseen. I did not feel connected or pulled in to see more about Garano as I might have with other characters. That said, it is not a horrid piece of writing by any stretch of the imagination. I'll finish things off with the follow-up novella and be able to offer something more cogent at that time. Kudos, Madam Cornwell for attempting to branch out, though perhaps this is more a means of idling as your next Scarpetta masterpiece came to you. Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn F.

    Am I the only one that found the plot way too convoluted? Taking an older murder from another state, sending the blood evidence to a lab in California and having this huge conspiracy about insider trading with a rape thrown in for no good reason that I could see. And I'm so jaded I thought the rape was (view spoiler)[actually a BDSM sexual encounter that was taken the wrong way (hide spoiler)] . I'm pretty sure this is my first time reading this author and I don't plan on picking up any of her ot Am I the only one that found the plot way too convoluted? Taking an older murder from another state, sending the blood evidence to a lab in California and having this huge conspiracy about insider trading with a rape thrown in for no good reason that I could see. And I'm so jaded I thought the rape was (view spoiler)[actually a BDSM sexual encounter that was taken the wrong way (hide spoiler)] . I'm pretty sure this is my first time reading this author and I don't plan on picking up any of her other books anytime soon.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jelenie

    Terrible all around! Whatever happened to Cornwell's writing and why did it get this bad? I remember reading her Scarpetta novels 7-8 years ago and they were captivating and well written. This book is just utter garbage, seriously folks don't waste your time. I actually thought that for a few chapters there, I was reading some of James Patterson's work - the flimsy characters and the short chapters with a shock factor at the end. Terrible all around! Whatever happened to Cornwell's writing and why did it get this bad? I remember reading her Scarpetta novels 7-8 years ago and they were captivating and well written. This book is just utter garbage, seriously folks don't waste your time. I actually thought that for a few chapters there, I was reading some of James Patterson's work - the flimsy characters and the short chapters with a shock factor at the end.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    At one time, her Kay Scarpetta books were some of the best mystery/thriller fiction around... and then they grew dark & nasty & mean - and I stopped reading them. Since the "At Risk" series meant a new set of characters and a possible fresh start, I gave both of the books a try this weekend. I'm sad to report that the books read like TV pilot proposals: the sexy ice queen prosecutor with political ambitions who bosses around the good-looking African-American detective hero. The hero has relations At one time, her Kay Scarpetta books were some of the best mystery/thriller fiction around... and then they grew dark & nasty & mean - and I stopped reading them. Since the "At Risk" series meant a new set of characters and a possible fresh start, I gave both of the books a try this weekend. I'm sad to report that the books read like TV pilot proposals: the sexy ice queen prosecutor with political ambitions who bosses around the good-looking African-American detective hero. The hero has relationships with "broken" women who help him solve cold cases. Politics always interferes with crime-solving... and illicit sex (with a minor, rape, etc.) always manages to appear. From a more "nuts & bolts" perspective, the books develop too quickly as they're shoehorned into 200 pages in a reduced size format - meaning each one of them is about 1/2 a novel in length. Patricia Cornwell is a better writer than this... go back to her earlier work instead of bothering with these two books.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    One of my worst reads EVER! The story line is stupid. The background mystery is stupid. The foreground plot is stupid. Horribly written. It was a total waste of time. Here is my review of the #2 book, it is the same. I read the first Garano book "At Risk" and was thoroughly disappointed, but I bought both the books online together, and I did like the character Winston Garano and thought surely she would flesh him out a little more in the second book. Unless you like reading extremely skeletal outl One of my worst reads EVER! The story line is stupid. The background mystery is stupid. The foreground plot is stupid. Horribly written. It was a total waste of time. Here is my review of the #2 book, it is the same. I read the first Garano book "At Risk" and was thoroughly disappointed, but I bought both the books online together, and I did like the character Winston Garano and thought surely she would flesh him out a little more in the second book. Unless you like reading extremely skeletal outlines of what a story will be when it is written, don't bother getting this book. I am a huge Cornwell/Scarpetta fan. The last several books of the series really weren't very good. And the last one I read was really pretty bad and rather disjointed. This new series is worse. Much worse. As in horrible. It is poorly written, the characters besides Garano and his grandmother are not even likable/interesting. It is seriously like an outline written by a high school student with a good idea but no writing skills at all. If it had not been in a large font and had been edited at all it would have been about 100 pages long. I cannot repeat enough how truly bad these two books were.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Randy Tramp

    Win Garano is called away from a course of the National Forensic Academy to work a twenty-year-old murder case. His book, the district attorney is planning to run for governor. Interesting characters with an interesting plot. Mix politics with mystery and you have a good story. It did take me a little bit to get into this story and I had to really pay attention to stay with it. I did like the main character, which made the story for me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I've read a lot of reviews of this book, and I don't see what people's problem is. I enjoyed the story, and I thought the characters were fairly well drawn. My favorite is the tarot wielding nana. It was a quick and pleasant read. I've read a lot of reviews of this book, and I don't see what people's problem is. I enjoyed the story, and I thought the characters were fairly well drawn. My favorite is the tarot wielding nana. It was a quick and pleasant read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Selva

    Patricia Cornwell normally writes serial killer stories with heavy reliance on forensics. Here she has tried to write something like a political thriller with a murder mystery to go along. Both were weak, to say the least. Nothing great to write about. Just +1 to my have-read list :)

  11. 4 out of 5

    itchy

    too short, maybe? p82: nana is asleep on the couch, in her long, black robe, her long, white hair loose and splayed over the cushion, clint eastwood on the tv, making somebody’s day with his big, bad gun.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    An enjoyable snarky read. There is no development of relationship with the characters. Ho Hum

  13. 5 out of 5

    Books of Jade

    Nice and fast thriller, a bit disappointing in the last pages but it's a series so it makes sense. 3.5☆ Nice and fast thriller, a bit disappointing in the last pages but it's a series so it makes sense. 3.5☆

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kimmay

    Meh. I listened to the audio version of this book. I actually have the book but never got around to reading it, i saw the audio version in the library and needed something to pass the time while driving so i grabbed it, thinking... Cool, i will finally get to see what that book is about. Well... Meh. It was mediocre at best. if I had read it rather than listened to it I might even be more harsh in reviewing this, sorry Patricia Cornwell, but it just wasn't that good of a storyline, in was dry and Meh. I listened to the audio version of this book. I actually have the book but never got around to reading it, i saw the audio version in the library and needed something to pass the time while driving so i grabbed it, thinking... Cool, i will finally get to see what that book is about. Well... Meh. It was mediocre at best. if I had read it rather than listened to it I might even be more harsh in reviewing this, sorry Patricia Cornwell, but it just wasn't that good of a storyline, in was dry and the characters were unlikable, i see where she was going with Win saving Miss Dog, and protecting Susie from her dead-beat husband, yeah okay so you want me to think he is a nice guy.. okay... I liked his Gram okay too but it just didn't draw me in, Win seemed underdeveloped, and Monique seemed cliched and a stereo-type of a boss who is a self serving ambitious bish. Come on, please i realise you want her to be multi-sided as well, but it just didn't work. I never really felt any connection to any of the characters. Maybe it was because it was such a short book... maybe that is why it just didn't work well. The characters seemed to cookie cutter stiff. Maybe the narrators voice provoked some dislike as well, there were times that it was hard to distinguish betwen characters, there was not enogh clarity between the characters from the narrator. I am getting rid of the hard copy of the book I have and i already returned the audio version to the library. It did serve its purpose, it burned some time while driving, it was not really deep so i didn't have to really concentrate , it was what i consider a beach read... a book you just don't care if you forget at the hotel when you check out, certainly not a book you would seek out at the lost and found. Lol

  15. 4 out of 5

    Faye

    First read: 2007 Initial rating: 2/5 Initial thoughts: boo this isn't a Kay Scarpetta novel :( I have always felt I didn't give this series a fair chance, and now eight years after I first read it I remember exactly nothing about the plot, so I'm going to re-read with the full awareness that this is a different series and it should be judged on what it is rather than what it isn't! Re-read: May 2015 New rating: 4/5 Thoughts: This was an unusual crime novel in that the crime was almost a side plot to t First read: 2007 Initial rating: 2/5 Initial thoughts: boo this isn't a Kay Scarpetta novel :( I have always felt I didn't give this series a fair chance, and now eight years after I first read it I remember exactly nothing about the plot, so I'm going to re-read with the full awareness that this is a different series and it should be judged on what it is rather than what it isn't! Re-read: May 2015 New rating: 4/5 Thoughts: This was an unusual crime novel in that the crime was almost a side plot to the action going on in the main characters personal lives. I enjoyed it a lot for the most part. Things I didn't like; the use of present tense throughout, and the weak female characters - there was Sykes who put her own career in jeopardy to help out Win with the cold case murder just because she has a crush on him, and Monique who was horrible to Win despite everything he did for her (she did become slightly more sympathetic towards the end but it was too little too late for me). Things I liked; fast moving plot, the main character Win was likeable and I loved his interactions with his Nana, who is a psychic. Any scenes with Miss Dog in them :) [I just discovered that a made-for-TV movie of At Risk was released in 2010 - it only has a 4.3 rating on IMDb but it might be interesting to see how this very short novel translated to a film.]

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Well so begins my introduction to Patricia Cornwell - I will admit I am not sure if there is a "starting point" in her work or even if this is part of a larger series - I should really do some research but as a randomly picked book to try I did enjoy this - I did feel in places, especially the start that I was watching a story unfold I was not necessarily invited to watch - and that I was in fact as a result only seeing snippets of what was really going on. However as confusing as it felt at tim Well so begins my introduction to Patricia Cornwell - I will admit I am not sure if there is a "starting point" in her work or even if this is part of a larger series - I should really do some research but as a randomly picked book to try I did enjoy this - I did feel in places, especially the start that I was watching a story unfold I was not necessarily invited to watch - and that I was in fact as a result only seeing snippets of what was really going on. However as confusing as it felt at times it did all fall in to place - and even the early blocks and points of confusion were explained if rather suddenly and rushed at the end. This was an interesting read more than a fun one - it certainly has not put me off her work but I do feel I should have read her work starting with something else.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte (Buried in Books)

    I don't understand what the point of this book was. I really didn't like the style of writing. It felt like the outline of a TV show or movie with sentences half constructed. It couldn't seem to make up it's mind which story it was telling, which was a shame because it held promise. But in the end the cold case wasn't much of a case (especially as the man supposed to be investigating it palmed it off onto a colleague). The DA was awful - in fact most of the characters were awful, apart from Win' I don't understand what the point of this book was. I really didn't like the style of writing. It felt like the outline of a TV show or movie with sentences half constructed. It couldn't seem to make up it's mind which story it was telling, which was a shame because it held promise. But in the end the cold case wasn't much of a case (especially as the man supposed to be investigating it palmed it off onto a colleague). The DA was awful - in fact most of the characters were awful, apart from Win's Nana. Bit of a waste of time really.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This book did not feel like a Patricia Cornwell novel. I've read lots of her Scarpetta series and have always enjoyed the story. The main character, Winston Garano, is intriguing but what was happening around him either was confusing or I just didn't care about. I felt like I was missing parts of the story. This book did not feel like a Patricia Cornwell novel. I've read lots of her Scarpetta series and have always enjoyed the story. The main character, Winston Garano, is intriguing but what was happening around him either was confusing or I just didn't care about. I felt like I was missing parts of the story.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sharon T.

    Nope. Don't even go there. The main character is OK, but you don't really care about anyone else. And I kept thinking that it read like a long short story (?) Then I discovered a comment on the jacket that I had missed before saying that it was originally a 15-part series in the New Yorker magazine. Her other stuff is much better. Nope. Don't even go there. The main character is OK, but you don't really care about anyone else. And I kept thinking that it read like a long short story (?) Then I discovered a comment on the jacket that I had missed before saying that it was originally a 15-part series in the New Yorker magazine. Her other stuff is much better.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    From IMDb: A district attorney wants to further her political dreams by solving an old murder. Quite interesting but a not so appealing book. I am not so sure I'll put some effort to read this new series by Patricia Cornwell. From IMDb: A district attorney wants to further her political dreams by solving an old murder. Quite interesting but a not so appealing book. I am not so sure I'll put some effort to read this new series by Patricia Cornwell.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lbd

    Granted, it's not a Kay Scarpetta novel. but I really felt cheated reading this book. It was short on plot, short on character development, double spaced and just not up to Cornwell's talent. Granted, it's not a Kay Scarpetta novel. but I really felt cheated reading this book. It was short on plot, short on character development, double spaced and just not up to Cornwell's talent.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mercy Thompson

    2, maybe 2 1/2 stars. This book took me a long time to read. It's not a long book, but it didn't make me want to read it. The idea of the story, solving an old crime, is kinda cool. But I don't think it's written well enough to keep me interested. The last couple chapters were better than the rest of the book, but by then it was too late. And the book jumps between two different characters and it always took awhile for me to figure out which character I was reading. This is the first Patricia Cornwe 2, maybe 2 1/2 stars. This book took me a long time to read. It's not a long book, but it didn't make me want to read it. The idea of the story, solving an old crime, is kinda cool. But I don't think it's written well enough to keep me interested. The last couple chapters were better than the rest of the book, but by then it was too late. And the book jumps between two different characters and it always took awhile for me to figure out which character I was reading. This is the first Patricia Cornwell book I have read, and I have a bunch of her books on our book shelf. I hope her other ones are better.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joe Borg

    Not a Kay Scarpetta detective, but a short cold case story. I felt the author was skipping relevant details jumping scenes and making for a fast read. Although we are given the answers by the end of the book the bad guys seemed to stand out throughout. If you are after a quick read then this is the book for you.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I listened to this on audiobook. The narrator was very good. I really liked the character of Winston Garano and his grandmother was my favorite. The other characters were solid as well. The mystery was decent but nothing special. This was my first book by Patricia Cornwell and I think she’s a good writer. I’ll definitely check out some more of her work.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    As my first Patricia Cornwell book, I had high hopes. Sadly, with this book anyway, I was fairly disappointed. Nothing about it engaged or interested me; it felt very...empty, severely lacking in actual story. However I won't let it put me off as I've heard such great things about the Kay Scarpetta series As my first Patricia Cornwell book, I had high hopes. Sadly, with this book anyway, I was fairly disappointed. Nothing about it engaged or interested me; it felt very...empty, severely lacking in actual story. However I won't let it put me off as I've heard such great things about the Kay Scarpetta series

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sparkie Allison

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Definitely not the depth or development of any of the Scarpetta series. The characters just didn't have any appeal. The story was mediocre. I stuck with it hoping it would get better but it didn't. That's surprising and disappointing from such an awesome writer. Definitely not the depth or development of any of the Scarpetta series. The characters just didn't have any appeal. The story was mediocre. I stuck with it hoping it would get better but it didn't. That's surprising and disappointing from such an awesome writer.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Theiss

    I was in the mood for a light bon bon of a book to help me through a miserable cough/cold/allergy/ whatever and this did the trick. Entertaining characters, Machiavellian plot, a smattering of forensics—all good.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Neil Collins

    Patricia Cornwell was once one of my favorite authors, and I took any opportunity to purchase her books wherever I found them, certain that I would read them all, in order, over time. Sadly, she is no longer writing anywhere near the level she once had, and this is the last of her books I will ever purchase or read. In fact, I read it only because it was already on my shelf, and I hated to think I spent the money and never opened it. At Risk is the first in Cornwell’s Winston Garano series (there Patricia Cornwell was once one of my favorite authors, and I took any opportunity to purchase her books wherever I found them, certain that I would read them all, in order, over time. Sadly, she is no longer writing anywhere near the level she once had, and this is the last of her books I will ever purchase or read. In fact, I read it only because it was already on my shelf, and I hated to think I spent the money and never opened it. At Risk is the first in Cornwell’s Winston Garano series (there are two so far). Best known for her Kay Scarpetta novels, and less for her Andy Brazil series, this new venture is, inarguably, her worst work ever. If you’ve read my review of her Isle of Dogs (Andy Brazil #3), then you know that is saying a lot! As are her last several books, At Risk is written in a very distracting and unprofessional present tense. I found myself several times having to go back and reread passages that made no sense due to this annoyance. Imagine, if you will, trying to listen to a “Valley Girl” telling a story, and you’ll understand the feeling. Story wise, At Risk is 212 page skeletal examination of the police work of Winston Garano, sometimes called Win, sometimes Geronimo. He’s a Detective with the Massachusetts State Police, assigned to the DA’s office in Boston. He’s a self-loathing wunderkind from the wrong part of Boston who wears top name fashions such as Hugo Boss and Prada, that he buys second hand at the thrift stores and constantly ruminates that he failed to get into Harvard like the rich kids. He’s been on assignment at the National Forensics Academy in Knoxville, Tennessee, but his boss, the egomaniacal Monique Lamont has summoned him back early to investigate a case she is certain will land her the Governor’s office. As part of her new program which she calls “At Risk” she has decided that the best way to get additional funding for the new state forensics lab, as well as make her a shoe-in politically, is to put Win on a 20 year old cold case. A cold case that took place in another state. Knoxville, Tennessee, to be specific. Never mind that a Massachusetts DA has no authority to investigate a case from out of state. Never mind that she has called Win BACK from Knoxville to tell him about the case. Never mind that any public official who so grossly misused their office and the public’s money like this would be stoned in the town square. Leave all reality and logic and common sense aside; this is still a terrible story told in the worst possible, hurried and assuming fashion. At Risk reads like an outline for a story proposal, not a fully thought out manuscript. The characters are as thin as paper, and I often had to look back to see who Cornwell was talking about as she would refer to them by first name one moment and last name the next. You never get to actually care about any of them, though Monique Lamont comes close to being as detestable as she can in such a poor telling. I found Lamont annoying because she was a mean bitch, not because she was a well constructed antagonist. There is very little back story on any of them, and when a bit is tossed in here and there, it seems like another distraction; the flyer stuck under your windshield wiper that you forgot to remove before you began driving. I am seriously saddened by the decline of Cornwell’s writing. Her first nine Scarpetta novels were excellent, deeply researched, and masterfully constructed. From Postmortem, right up to Black Notice, she wove intricate, albeit dark tales with vivid characters and detailed settings. After that, her writing style changed drastically and her stories fell apart in ever increasing chaos. From Mona Lisa to a kindergartener’s crayon drawings. I still highly recommend her early work, but anything written after about 1999 will disappoint. Don’t bother with the Win Garano or the Andy Brazil books at all.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    PROTAGONIST: Winston Garano, Massachusetts State Police investigator SERIES: Standalone - originally written as a 15-part series for The New York Times Magazine RATING: 2.25 Back in 1990, Patricia Cornwell took the mystery reading world by storm with the publication of Postmortem. That book was groundbreaking in that its lead character, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, was a medical examiner and there was a heavy focus on forensics. The detailed forensic analyses obviously appealed to the reading public; Cornwel PROTAGONIST: Winston Garano, Massachusetts State Police investigator SERIES: Standalone - originally written as a 15-part series for The New York Times Magazine RATING: 2.25 Back in 1990, Patricia Cornwell took the mystery reading world by storm with the publication of Postmortem. That book was groundbreaking in that its lead character, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, was a medical examiner and there was a heavy focus on forensics. The detailed forensic analyses obviously appealed to the reading public; Cornwell's subsequent books have all shot to the head of the best seller lists upon release. Along the way, however, many in the mystery reading community found the series to be degrading in quality over time. In each book, the characters became more outrageous and the problems they faced more outlandish. As a result, many gave up on reading Cornwell at all. At Risk is a departure from the Scarpetta series. It was created as a 15-part serial for The New York Times Magazine. The book introduces Winston Garano, also known as "Win" or "Geronimo", who is an investigator for the Massachusetts State Police. He is directed by the District Attorney, Monique Lamont, who is tough and politically ambitious, to solve a cold case originating in Tennessee. The idea is that if Win solves the case, it will show that the Massachusetts police can beat "any crime any time" and bring national attention to the team (and more specifically, Monique). Frankly, I found that whole premise weak. It didn't seem logical that such an assignment would be made, way outside the normal boundaries of the agency. I'm sure there were at least a few unsolved Massachusetts homicides that might have benefited from an investigation. I wasn't looking forward to reading At Risk after having given up on the Scarpetta series. Much to my surprise, I found it tolerable (meaning that I could finish it!). The writing in present tense annoyed me, and I also felt irritated by Win's putting the bulk of the investigative work on to a female associate. Although it is not a great work of art, the characters are relatively sane and the plot seemed possible if not plausible. It will be interesting to see if Cornwell decides to use this as a foundation for another series. As expected, the book hit the best seller list immediately upon publication.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Doug Clark

    Patricia Cornwell’s most recent paperback, At Risk, is probably a cautionary title suitable for the reader. Cornwell, who is best known for her award-winning series on the forensic scientist, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, offers a mystery involving a 20-year old murder in Tennessee and the assault of a Massachusetts’ DA, Monique Lamont. Investigating both crimes is Boston detective, Winston Garano. I am leery of saying more as I don’t want to raise any reader’s hopes that this is a good mystery. I wish I c Patricia Cornwell’s most recent paperback, At Risk, is probably a cautionary title suitable for the reader. Cornwell, who is best known for her award-winning series on the forensic scientist, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, offers a mystery involving a 20-year old murder in Tennessee and the assault of a Massachusetts’ DA, Monique Lamont. Investigating both crimes is Boston detective, Winston Garano. I am leery of saying more as I don’t want to raise any reader’s hopes that this is a good mystery. I wish I could say that the various twists and turns make for fascinating reading, but the characters are mostly unsympathetic and hard to relate to. This is a real shame as Cornwell’s Scarpetta novels were fascinating reads in their early days. I don’t know what has happened. It seems that Cornwell has somehow slipped off the track. In general, I go into reading particular authors favorably disposed towards them. However, the last few of Cornwell’s books, and in particular, At Risk, do not hold one’s interest, much less invoke much interest to begin with. I think there was potential here for a very good political thriller. However, neither Cornwell nor the reader can muster much passion for these characters. That is sad. What makes this even more tragic is that the writing is spread out and enlarged for a small paperback. This could easily have been rewritten as a short story, or at most, a novella. I cannot in good conscience recommend the book, even if one is a Cornwell fan.

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