Quantum (Captain Chase #1), by Patricia Cornwell

Seven stars

After a hiatus from her successful forensic series, Patricia Cornwell returns with a novel that will have readers reaching for the stars in the middle of this impactful crime thriller. Captain Callisto ‘Calli’ Chase gave up a promising career in the military to help her family. She was able to land on her feet, serving within the NASA police in Virginia. While out investigating an alarm within the facility, Callie comes across some forensic material that leaves her baffled. When one of NASA’s scientific contractors is found dead in her room from an apparent suicide, Calli takes notice. What starts out looking like a simple cry for help does not make sense, the more pieces come together. The note left for others to find, the state of the body, even the last meal laid out on the table. It all points to something that’s been staged. While she is trying to juggle her workplace situation, Calli is brought up to speed that her twin sister, Carme, is wanted for questioning in the disappearance of a man she was seen to have had words with not too long before. Unable to locate Carme, Calli struggles as she remembers the key event in their past that drove a wedge between them as twins and sisters. While Calli is certain there is a killer on the loose within the NASA facility, she must remain calm and do all she can in order not to show her hand, while inside the terror mounts. An interesting return by Cornwell with an entirely new concept. While many did not enjoy this novel, the concept grew on me by the end and I am ready to recommend it to those who enjoy something scientific alongside their crime thrillers.

I have long been a fan of Cornwell and her Scarpetta series. While those novels did begin to lag after a time, I could see a great deal of effort went into their creation. When I heard that Cornwell was going to try her hand at something new, I was a little surprised, as Scarpetta was not yet tied off. This space-themed crime thriller novel has all the ingredients for the author to reinvent herself, with a curious cast of characters and a great deal of research having gone into the narrative. Calli Chase proves to be an worthwhile character and serves well in the role of protagonist. Her strong belief in the law and order resonated with me, as did her mathematical quirks that surface throughout the novel. However, there were times that I felt a significant disconnect. I am not sure what it is, as I do not remember having this issue with Kay Scarpetta, but realise that it may take me some time to connect properly with Calli. Her backstory and character development were both present throughout, offering some early tidbit on which Cornwell can build. I hope for more reveals to ensure Callisto Chase is not just another character whose unique name is the sole reason she stands out. Other characters grace the pages of this book and prove to be entertaining, though they also proved to be lukewarm at times. The multiple plots are strong and the ideas are there, but the delivery though the characters was significantly lacking. As a story, there was a great deal of potential here, though things fell flat early. I scanned Goodreads and noticed others felt the same way. Thankfully I held on, as things did get better and I was able to feel confident in finishing this piece. Such class and past success as an author should not deter Patricia Cornwell, though I would hope that this is just a rut and not the new face of a talented writer I have enjoyed for a long time.

Kudos, Madam Cornwell, for trying something new. Not sure if it worked, though some of my other favourites are stumbling these days. Perhaps it is just a phase.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons