Everyone seems to be grumpy or worse in Predator, Patricia Cornwell's 14th foray into forensics, with subplots galore, admirably read by Kate Reading. Kay Scarpetta, now with the National Forensic Academy in Florida, her brilliant niece Lucy's superb state-of-the-art training and research center, can't get her old sleuthing pal Pete Marino to behave; can't get Lucy, sullen and a bit off her game, to communicate; and midway through has a falling out with forensic psychologist Wesley Benton, her old flame and colleague in crime-solving. But the personal stuff doesn't keep any of them from their appointed rounds, rounds that entangle them in a series of intertwined murders, old and new, in steamy Florida and snowbound Boston, and in trying to understand how the mind of a serial killer (or compulsive murderer, as Benton prefers) works. Cornwell has a lot of balls in the air, but if you listen closely the baffling connections between the murders begin to emerge in all their gory detail.

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