Trace Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Trace

Kate Scarpetta, a former Chief medical examiner in Virginia, Richmond, now resides in South Florida. She, along with her good friend, Marino, also formerly of Virginia, are summoned to her former workplace by the new chief medical examiner, Dr. Joel Marcus. Scarpetta and Marino are asked to investigate the murder of a 14 year old girl named Gilly Paulsson. While trying to pry the details of the murder from Gilly's game-playing, supposedly grief-stricken mother, Scarpetta and Marino must deal with Dr. Marcus' political machinations in his attempt to destroy Scarpetta's unassailable reputation and cover up his own incompetence. Then, Marino gets seduced into playing a game with Suz, Gilly's mother and is wrongly accused of rape. An added twist occurs when a construction worker is run over by a tractor and killed on site of her old building. Somehow, the same trace evidence found on the worker's body is also found in Gilly Paulsson's mouth.
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Meanwhile, Benton Wesley, Scarpetta's lover, and Lucy, Scarpetta's niece, are investigating a seemingly unrelated case of attempted murder of Henri, Lucy's employee and friend. Lucy runs The Last Precinct, which is an undercover organization which investigates FBI-calibre cases in confidence.

As Kay Scarpetta and Marino sift through the rubble that is left of her former place of employment, Scarpetta finds that not only is the building falling apart, so are the capabilities of the new chief medical examiner and the morale of her former staff.    One former staff member, in particular, seeks revenge against Dr. Scarpetta and her feisty niece Lucy for causing his disability, a lung condition which makes it difficult to breathe. While Scarpetta and Marino attempt to circumvent Suz's games, and Benton and Lucy get closer to the truth about Henri's attacker, the killer methodically sets up his final revenge.
The review of this Book prepared by Melissa Cheam

Ex-Chief Medical Examiner, Kay Scarpetta has been called back to her old office to assist in investigating a puzzling death along with her faithful friend and ex-detective, Pete Marino. Marino becomes embroiled in his own personal drama with the mother of the murdered girl, Susan. After a sexual role play, Susan lies and accuses Pete of rape. This strange behavior from the bereaved mother draws her into the investigation as a suspect or accessory to the crime.

Meanwhile, Kay's neice Lucy is being stalked and was the target of attempted murder. The modis operandi is nearly identical to that of the murdered girl.
The review of this Book prepared by Tracey Ray

Putnam, Sept 2004, 26.95, 436 pp.
ISBN 0399152199

Kay Scarpetta and Benton Wesley were planning a two weeks vacation in his Aspen cottage but at the last minute he cancels because he is counseling Lucy's girlfriend Henri who was attacked and almost killed while in bed in Luc's home. Someone is stalking one of the ladies, leaving a picture of an eye on her on her outside door and planting a bomb in her mailbox. Lucy is busy hunting down the maniac.

In the meantime Kay is called back to Virginia by the new Medical Examiner because outside forces wants a highly renowned ME to examine the body of fourteen year old Gilly Paulson. During the autopsy, Scarpetta discovers some bruises that proves she was killed while laying on her back while somebody's knee press her into her pillow so she couldn't breathe.

In the burned house across the way from Gilley's home, Henri and Marcus find mortuary magazines addressed to Kay's old work address in Richmond. Fingerprints show that the culprit is the same person who killed a child and almost murdered Lucy's lover but finding that person will take all the resources at their disposal.

TRACE, like BLOW FLY, is told in the third person so readers have many viewpoints, a plot device that lets the audience know what Kay, Benton, Lucy and the killer are thinking. Kay is her usual brilliant self, ignoring anyone who gets in the way of finding the truth about the killer and Lucy is working extra hard to find the stalker before the perp strikes again. Patricia Cornwell writes the best crime thrillers on the market today and readers will find TRACE a work that is one of the author's best.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of Trace

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 10% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues Time/era of story:    -   2000+ (Present) What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   70% Kind of investigator    -   skilled citizen investigator Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   feelings towards family/friends Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   doctor Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Southeast    -   Mid-Atlantic states Misc setting    -   scientific labs

Writing Style

A lot of techno jargon?    -   Yes Kind of jargon?    -   biology/medical Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Patricia Cornwell Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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