This is I believe is the final entry in what I have come to call the Temple Gault trilogy in the Scarpetta novels by Patricia Cornwell.
Temple Brooks Gault first appeared in Cruel and Unusual where was responsible for killing 4 people and escaped. Gault turned up again by proxy in The Body Farm (my review of that book is here) where he used a young woman, Carrie Grethen, to gain access to a classified FBI program. In From Potters Field Gault continues his murderous rampage by setting his sights on Dr. Scarpetta and her niece, Lucy (who was Carrie’s lover in The Body Farm).
This book follows the FBI’s hunt for Gault from Richmond to New York and seemingly back and forth before his death in the New York subway. What I am most fascinated by in this book is not the title (which again is only tangentially related to the plot at hand) or the main thrust of the plot in finding Gault, but the behavior of the primary characters.
Gault has red hair and vivid blue eyes, can imitate a flawless Northern Italian accent and steals money wired to his mentally-impaired sister (an impairment he caused years earlier by making a horse kick her in the head) before he kills said sister after taking her boots and everything else that he wanted from her. I am only just beginning to write crime stories myself and I’m not sure I would wish to write about someone as innately evil as Gault, but I am still fascinated by his character (which I suppose is why I like watching Criminal Minds).
Lucy went from being a twelve-year-old know-it-all to a lesbian FBI-intern computer genius and considering that these books were written in the mid-90s I’m glad they tackle the difficulty of a lesbian lifestyle, but only as it relates to the character, and not the plot. Lucy’s computer wizardry is instrumental in catching Gault and absolves her from the problems Gault and Grethen caused her in The Body Farm.
Captain Pete Marino comes across as a chauvinist, homophobic bigoted dinosaur but he is a cynical jaded detective who knows what to look for and I find his character just as fascinating. I’ll be giving a more detailed look at Marino’s character in another post.
Scarpetta’s character seemed odd to me in this book. We see her becoming more and more paranoid (understandable considering Gault’s fascination with her) but her fascination with guns seems completely off compared to the previous books. She went from having one gun to enough for a small army. I think Cornwell went too far in portraying Scarpetta’s paranoia.
I actually really enjoyed the book and give it a 7/10.