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Body of Evidence

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell returns to the chilling world of gutsy medical examiner Kay Scarpetta in this suspense fiction classic. Reclusive author Beryl Madison finds no safe haven from months of menacing phone calls -- or the tormented feeling that her every move is being watched. When the writer is found slain in her own home, Kay Scarpetta #1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell returns to the chilling world of gutsy medical examiner Kay Scarpetta in this suspense fiction classic. Reclusive author Beryl Madison finds no safe haven from months of menacing phone calls -- or the tormented feeling that her every move is being watched. When the writer is found slain in her own home, Kay Scarpetta pieces together the intricate forensic evidence -- while unwittingly edging closer to a killer waiting in the shadows....

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell returns to the chilling world of gutsy medical examiner Kay Scarpetta in this suspense fiction classic. Reclusive author Beryl Madison finds no safe haven from months of menacing phone calls -- or the tormented feeling that her every move is being watched. When the writer is found slain in her own home, Kay Scarpetta #1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell returns to the chilling world of gutsy medical examiner Kay Scarpetta in this suspense fiction classic. Reclusive author Beryl Madison finds no safe haven from months of menacing phone calls -- or the tormented feeling that her every move is being watched. When the writer is found slain in her own home, Kay Scarpetta pieces together the intricate forensic evidence -- while unwittingly edging closer to a killer waiting in the shadows....

30 review for Body of Evidence

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kylie D

    An enjoyable book that sees Kay Scarpetta looking for the killer of a young author. The author was working on her memoirs, but the potentially explosive manuscript goes missing, and several high profile people are invested in finding, and hiding, it's whereabouts. As the body count starts to climb, Scarpetta finds herself under siege and scared. I found this book to be easy to read and highly entertaining. A worthy addition to the series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James

    I was such a gruesome kid... in that I loved to read this series. Blood never bothered me, and the more psychopaths you throw at me, the happier of a reader I am. I think I learned some anatomy from this book. :) The descriptions are vivid, not for the faint-hearted. Hits close to him when it's about a writer being murdered. Almost decapitated. The MC, Scarpetta, is a challenging character. She's so honest and raw, you have to respect and love her. But she's also got this side of her where I'd be I was such a gruesome kid... in that I loved to read this series. Blood never bothered me, and the more psychopaths you throw at me, the happier of a reader I am. I think I learned some anatomy from this book. :) The descriptions are vivid, not for the faint-hearted. Hits close to him when it's about a writer being murdered. Almost decapitated. The MC, Scarpetta, is a challenging character. She's so honest and raw, you have to respect and love her. But she's also got this side of her where I'd be a little scared to be her friend. Very complex mystery. Lots of clues. Very intense read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Meags

    3 Stars I don't know whether it's the writing itself or the time when it was written (early 90s), but Kay Scarpetta is one silly broad, who constantly makes choices that had me scratching my head in confusion (and frustration). For a character that is so beloved I can't quite find the appeal (yet). And her detective friend (?), Marino, is wholly unlikable, with his gruff, assholish demeanour, and his constant prejudice slurs and harsh judgements of nearly everyone he comes into contact with who i 3 Stars I don't know whether it's the writing itself or the time when it was written (early 90s), but Kay Scarpetta is one silly broad, who constantly makes choices that had me scratching my head in confusion (and frustration). For a character that is so beloved I can't quite find the appeal (yet). And her detective friend (?), Marino, is wholly unlikable, with his gruff, assholish demeanour, and his constant prejudice slurs and harsh judgements of nearly everyone he comes into contact with who isn't like him. What a prick. If I had to witness one more homophobic rant I would have gone off my tree! Luckily, I enjoy a good murder mystery arc and this one kept me entertained and intrigued enough to plough on through the character bullshit. I'll probably continue the series at some point, just not immediately.

  4. 4 out of 5

    CAM ♔

    The first book was good, this one's even better! It amazes me how Patricia Cornwell can make everything look so unclear at first then shows you the big picture when she pieces it all together in the end. This book kept me at the edge of my seat and I have learned to become genuinely interested in every character. Definitely worth reading especially for CSI fans like me! Quotable Quotes "Some people simply want company." "I didn't know what I wanted. Maybe I never had." "The older I got, the more I w The first book was good, this one's even better! It amazes me how Patricia Cornwell can make everything look so unclear at first then shows you the big picture when she pieces it all together in the end. This book kept me at the edge of my seat and I have learned to become genuinely interested in every character. Definitely worth reading especially for CSI fans like me! Quotable Quotes "Some people simply want company." "I didn't know what I wanted. Maybe I never had." "The older I got, the more I was of the opinion that love can be experienced in many different ways. There is no right or wrong way to love, only in how it is expressed." "You can never be real sure who's all right and who ain't... It's real hard to know these days, that's for damn sure."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    This series is what I call a "guilty pleasure". Not at all high-brow, but easy to read thrillers with some mystery, and I have to admit that I enjoy the gruesome details about forensic pathology. Being an engineering type, I like to know the details behind things, how things work, in particular when it comes to problem solving or investigative techniques. I do love the character of Kay Scarpetta; she's a strong, smart woman who is also attractive. She makes me nuts sometimes when she does risky t This series is what I call a "guilty pleasure". Not at all high-brow, but easy to read thrillers with some mystery, and I have to admit that I enjoy the gruesome details about forensic pathology. Being an engineering type, I like to know the details behind things, how things work, in particular when it comes to problem solving or investigative techniques. I do love the character of Kay Scarpetta; she's a strong, smart woman who is also attractive. She makes me nuts sometimes when she does risky things that her superior brain should be telling her not to do, but then there wouldn't be a story, would there?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)

    Definitely enjoyed this one more than I did the first and can see how this series would get better as it goes. Loved that the mystery kept me on my toes and I didn't quite figure out whodunit until towards the end. Will definitely keep reading these!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Noriko

    I believe everybody has books that are near and dear to their hearts, like comfort food that they cannot help but love and embrace despite some issues and flaws. For me, this Kay Scarpetta series on the whole falls into that category. I remember devouring this series up until the 5th book when translated editions came out. Although it’s been quite a while since I last read this series, this ‘Body of Evidence,’ the second book in the Scarpetta series, confirmed my conviction that I love, and proba I believe everybody has books that are near and dear to their hearts, like comfort food that they cannot help but love and embrace despite some issues and flaws. For me, this Kay Scarpetta series on the whole falls into that category. I remember devouring this series up until the 5th book when translated editions came out. Although it’s been quite a while since I last read this series, this ‘Body of Evidence,’ the second book in the Scarpetta series, confirmed my conviction that I love, and probably will continue to love this series irrespective of potential issues in respective books. The plot is intricately and well-contemplated. As usual, the book kicks off with Scarpetta arriving a murder scene of the victim, Beryl Madison and the retrace of the murder well depicts how ghoulish the murder could have been, the dialogues and banter between Marino reeled me in the story immediately. Although there are a lot of jargon relating to forensic investigation, pathology and such, it didn’t thwart my getting invested or immersed in the book. Using Marino as one of us laymen, Partrica Cornwell did a great job explaining such things in a prossessable way so that we get to understand what was going on and how things work. One of the quality I liked about this book is the details and realism in the police procedurals and investigations. Given Cornwell’s background before becoming an author, it stands to reason yet it doesn’t cease to amaze me how painstakingly small clues and hints are hinted and sprawled out throughout the book and how they get connected in the end like puzzle pieces snugly falling into place. I must admit that I was a bit impatient while I was In the midst of reading the ‘rather lengthy yet painstakingly detailed’ descriptions of the investigations and testing. I was also feeling a bit disoriented by how far-fetched the whole thing seemed with several clues and hits that could hardly be in any way connected are somewhat aligned. But seeing how those dots get connected and explained, it made a total sense to me and everything went down quite naturally to me. I think this is one of those books that you don’t necessarily need to play detective. I am speaking from my own perspective, but I felt totally comfortable in letting Kay explain how the case gets solved and how all the clues get connected instead of trying to figuring them out myself. This book didn’t frustrate me in that regard and I was quite happy with that. Kay Scarpetta is really an interesting character in my eyes; to be perfectly honest, I neither like or dislike her. I’m on the fence as far as she is concerned. She does come across a bit aloof and stolid (not stolid, but too cool and collected for my liking) and she only shows her emotions in the form of her outbursts when she was pushed over the edge , frankly speaking, I have never been emotionally attached to her. YET there’s something to her that makes me rooting for her before I even know it myself, hoping that she nails down the murderer as well as escape the wicked hands of them. She is smart, competent and efficient. There are a lot of qualities that make her an interesting and an alluring character as well as makes me want to be like her, and I cannot wait to revisit this series and see how she entices me down the road. The face-off between Kay and the villain is the highlight of this book, exhilarating and thrilling. The pacing perfectly matches with the mounting tension, making this book quite a unputdownable read. As I said in the beginning of my review, this book made me want to read more of this series. The road to complete this series seems quite daunting with more than 20 books in store for me, but I will at least read the next 4 books to see if I feel any different about the series since my last visit. I cannot wait. I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Cornwell brings Dr. Kay Scarpetta back in the critically acclaimed series to test her wiles in a new and disturbing manner. When a murdered author is found in her home, investigators are left with little to know insight, which bothers Scarpetta almost as much as the slaying itself. Questions grow exponentially while answers remain deftly hidden behind layers of the victim’s past. Scarpetta and the police being piecing things together, discovering a deeper back story related to her current piece Cornwell brings Dr. Kay Scarpetta back in the critically acclaimed series to test her wiles in a new and disturbing manner. When a murdered author is found in her home, investigators are left with little to know insight, which bothers Scarpetta almost as much as the slaying itself. Questions grow exponentially while answers remain deftly hidden behind layers of the victim’s past. Scarpetta and the police being piecing things together, discovering a deeper back story related to her current piece of work and a collection of letters she wrote to a mysterious ‘M’. After a related murder, Scarpetta realises there is more to the story than meets the eye. When an old flame resurfaces, he could be the key to putting it all together or the impediment that the killer needs to make a clean getaway. As things begin to come together on one level, they unravel before Scarpetta can make sense of all the gathered evidence. Will the killer slide back into obscurity before being called out to face justice? A brilliant, thought-provoking novel that will lead fans of the genre begging for more. Great character back story strengthens the foundation of both the novel and the series, still in its infancy. Cornwell does a fabulous job with all aspects of the novel. I must keep reminding myself that she forged the way in the genre, where characters such as Tempe Brennan and Megan Hunt followed suit with their own medical sleuthing. Scarpetta does defy the modern female protagonist with her crass perspective and vices galore. A great series for Reichs’ fans to try, while waiting for the next novel. Sure not to disappoint the reader who keeps an open mind. Any fan loving a great murder mystery with a hands-on medical professional will surely eat this up. Kudos, Madam Cornwell. I am a fan and cannot get enough of these books.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Quenya

    So I liked the book but I think that has more to do with the characters than the actual story. Scarpatta and Marino’s relationship is just too much fun in how much they respect each other but yet can irritate the hell out of each other at the same time. There were too many similar to the first book that bothered me. The two main things are that yet again Scarpetta’s office is made to look bad with her superiors and the media and the her romantic partner is a main part of the mystery. I was reall So I liked the book but I think that has more to do with the characters than the actual story. Scarpatta and Marino’s relationship is just too much fun in how much they respect each other but yet can irritate the hell out of each other at the same time. There were too many similar to the first book that bothered me. The two main things are that yet again Scarpetta’s office is made to look bad with her superiors and the media and the her romantic partner is a main part of the mystery. I was really intrigued by the murder mystery and it grabbed me right from the beginning but I felt like the author didn’t know how to wrap it up so it ended very anticlimactically and all the loose ends were tied up a little too neatly. The mystery is really two stories in one and one story almost overwhelms the book when the other story seemed to have more impact on the outcome. I look forward to the next one. The narrator of CJ Critt did an excellent job with the characters I loved Marino’s voice the most.

  10. 4 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Virginia Chief Medical Examiner is again in the middle of mysterious murders and personal vendettas! Lieutenant Pete Marino summons Scarpetta to the house of shy fiction writer and murder victim, Beryl Madison. Blood is everywhere. Knife wounds are like that, especially when deep defense injuries are dripping while the victim is trying to run away down a hallway and up a stairway, down another hall and into her bedroom. Oh well. She didn't suffer much pain after bleeding out fr Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Virginia Chief Medical Examiner is again in the middle of mysterious murders and personal vendettas! Lieutenant Pete Marino summons Scarpetta to the house of shy fiction writer and murder victim, Beryl Madison. Blood is everywhere. Knife wounds are like that, especially when deep defense injuries are dripping while the victim is trying to run away down a hallway and up a stairway, down another hall and into her bedroom. Oh well. She didn't suffer much pain after bleeding out from having her throat cut. Kay's is preoccupied thinking about the forensic clues in the Madison killing as she returns to her house when she hears her telephone ringing. She is stunned into silence after rushing to answer it by a voice from her past. It is Mark James, the love of life who got away after college. Kay has to sit down. It has been fifteen years, but she never got over him. Why is he calling? She invites him over to her house. She is flustered. He is as handsome as she remembered, and she finds she still has it bad for him. Then, after small talk, he say, "A woman was murdered here in Richmond a couple of nights ago. Beryl Madison..." Whaaaaat? He wants to know if she has Madison's manuscript, a memoir about her famous mentor, the novelist Cary Harper. There was a contract signed by Madison eight years ago promising to never write about Harper, but she has gone ahead and finished a book about Harper after all. Threats were made, so Madison hired a lawyer, Robert Sparacino. Soon after, Madison began to get weird phone calls. As it happens, Mark is working for Sparacino. Now, speaking for himself, he'd appreciate it if she would stay out of the ongoing case. Sure, yeah. Like that's going to happen. I didn't think 'Body of Evidence' book two in the Scarpetta series, was as sharply done as the previous book, but I still was entertained!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    3.5 stars. Not nearly as good as the first in the series, but I know this series gets better. I don't think I ever read this one, though. There were some interesting twists in this, definitely not what I would have guessed. A solid entry in the series, but without the crackle of the first, Postmortem. I'll definitely continue with the series.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    Lackluster, especially after the introduction of Al Hunt (no, not that Al Hunt) and his mentally ill friend Frankie. An utterly tedious denouement, with the reveal of the killer's identity the most soporific moment of the novel. Much dull bloviation about Key West and its gay population. A lost opportunity to make (view spoiler)[Mark James, Scarpetta's ex-lover, the killer (hide spoiler)] .

  13. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    3.5 stars. Really good.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rajan

    “Restraining orders aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,” I retorted, my anger nudging me closer to the limits of self-control. Not a year went by that I didn’t autopsy half a dozen brutalized women whose husbands or boyfriends had been slapped with restraining orders. ---- Marino snorted. “It’s like in your place, Doc. No such thing as preventive medicine. We’re nothing but a damn cleanup crew. Can’t do a damn thing until after the fact, when there’s hard evidence. Like a dead body.” ------- “Restraining orders aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,” I retorted, my anger nudging me closer to the limits of self-control. Not a year went by that I didn’t autopsy half a dozen brutalized women whose husbands or boyfriends had been slapped with restraining orders. ---- Marino snorted. “It’s like in your place, Doc. No such thing as preventive medicine. We’re nothing but a damn cleanup crew. Can’t do a damn thing until after the fact, when there’s hard evidence. Like a dead body.” ------- “Various emotions are associated with colors. It’s a legitimate basis for color schemes chosen for public places, hotel rooms, institutions. Blue, for example, is associated with depression. You won’t find many psychiatric hospital rooms decorated in blue. Red is angry, violent, passionate. Black is morbid, ominous, and so on. ------- “I’m too old for change,” she explained. “I’m too old to pursue good health and new relationships. The past breathes for me. It is my life. You are young, Dr. Scarpetta. Someday you will see what it is like to look back. You will find it inescapable. You will find your personal history drawing you back into familiar rooms where, ironically, events occurred that set into motion your eventual estrangement from life. You will find the hard furniture of heartbreak more comfortable and the people who failed you friendlier with time. You will find yourself running back into the arms of the pain you once ran away from. It is easier. That’s all I can say. It is easier.” ------ Attraction turns to obsession, love becomes pathological. When he loves, he has to possess because he feels so insecure and unworthy, is so easily threatened. When his secret love is not returned, he becomes increasingly obsessed. He becomes so fixated his ability to react and function. ------

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    Basic Plot: a writer of historical romances is found murdered, and Kay Scarpetta is on the case again. I used to teach this installment of the Scarpetta series as the example of the "mystery" genre in a novels class. Considering the fact that I taught this book, I remember it fairly well, even years after reading it. The pacing was good and there were plenty of red herrings that I used to love to use to torture my students with. If I have any complaints about it, they lie in the fact that the "big Basic Plot: a writer of historical romances is found murdered, and Kay Scarpetta is on the case again. I used to teach this installment of the Scarpetta series as the example of the "mystery" genre in a novels class. Considering the fact that I taught this book, I remember it fairly well, even years after reading it. The pacing was good and there were plenty of red herrings that I used to love to use to torture my students with. If I have any complaints about it, they lie in the fact that the "big reveal" completely comes out of left field. I like to read clues through a story and figure things out with (before if possible) the main character, and this book didn't allow for that. This is dangerously close to a spoiler, so I'm stopping the description there. I like Kay as a character: logical, older, and a bit pudgy. She's relatable to me and not a "perfect" person. This 2nd book in the series allows the character to grow a bit from the first volume and readers also get to see more of her back story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Why read: Reading the series. What impressed me: Body of Evidence was definitely a topsy-turvy mystery. Not only do you not know what's going on with the victims, you really don't have nay clue who to trust in the investigation either. Kay's not knowing friend from foe in her personal life adds a lot of tension and intrigue to the story. And either Cornwell does much better in this second book with laying off the excessive explanations, or I'm just getting used to her writing style. What disappoin Why read: Reading the series. What impressed me: Body of Evidence was definitely a topsy-turvy mystery. Not only do you not know what's going on with the victims, you really don't have nay clue who to trust in the investigation either. Kay's not knowing friend from foe in her personal life adds a lot of tension and intrigue to the story. And either Cornwell does much better in this second book with laying off the excessive explanations, or I'm just getting used to her writing style. What disappointed me: Nothing stood out as disappointing. Well, except the crazed homophobia of law enforcement. Was it really that extreme in the early 90s when this book first came out? Recommended: Yes. Even better than the last. Continue series: Yes. I'm definitely becoming interested in Kay's personal life.

  17. 4 out of 5

    John

    A solid murder mystery that, thankfully, does not rely too much on the forensic science element to further the plot. Cornwell is a terrific writer, and I enjoy her Kay Scarpetta character more than most detectives from other series. The book is fun and light, never disappointing but never reaching the upper echelons of great storytelling, either. Great for a long airplane ride, but not a book you're likely to remember well a couple years after you read it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Stenson

    This was my first Patricia Cornwall and I enjoyed the quality of writing but overall I think the detail was overwhelming and I'm not sure I will be reading another PC just yet. I have to acknowledge that the story did lead you down certain routes and the truth was revealed. There was a lot of dialogue and protracted evidence and technical descriptions which I found a little laborious.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}

    Need to be reviewed. EDIT: I actually prefer the later books to the early books. I think her writing got stronger. Mariano was so unlikeable in the early books.

  20. 5 out of 5

    RM(Alwaysdaddygirl) Griffin (alwaysdaddyprincess)

    Reread

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    First Read: This is one of her first in this series. I've been reading a lot of the later ones, and there is a different cast of members in this book. Quite nice as her language is a lot better than it gets in later series. Kind of fun to see the trail she forges as the book is beginning. I liked it quite a lot. Recommend. Second Read: Kay Scarpetta, chief medical examiner of Virginia, gets involved in the case of a brutal stabbing death in Richmond of romance writer Beryl Madison. Then, Madison' First Read: This is one of her first in this series. I've been reading a lot of the later ones, and there is a different cast of members in this book. Quite nice as her language is a lot better than it gets in later series. Kind of fun to see the trail she forges as the book is beginning. I liked it quite a lot. Recommend. Second Read: Kay Scarpetta, chief medical examiner of Virginia, gets involved in the case of a brutal stabbing death in Richmond of romance writer Beryl Madison. Then, Madison's greedy lawyer accuses Scarpetta of losing his client's latest manuscript, an autobiographical expose of Beryl's early life as protégé of a legendary novelist. As more deaths occur and the killer closes in on her, Kay finds herself also having to deal with the unexpected reappearance of long-lost lover Mark James. Scarpetta soon finds herself living Beryl's nightmare. Benton Wesley - FBI Profiler. "Benton Wesley could be as Prussian as the rest of them, but over the years he had won my respect. Beneath his Bureau boilerplate was a human being worth knowing. He was brisk and energetic, even when he was sitting, and he was typically dapper in his dark suit trousers and starched white shirt. His necktie was fashionably narrow and perfectly knotted, the black holster on his belt lonely for its ten-millimeter, which he almost never wore indoors. I hadn't seen Benton Wesley for a while and he hadn't changed. He was fit and handsome in a hard way, with premature silver-gray hair that never failed to surprise me." Dr. Kay Scarpetta was born in Miami, Florida, in 1954. She is of Italian descent on both sides of her family, with the Scarpettas emigrating from Verona, Italy. She is blonde and a sharp dresser, although always professional. As a young girl, she watched her father die slowly from leukemia and the experience has remained with her ever since, translating into her everyday work life, where she is surrounded by death. She is a perfectionist, an incredibly hard worker completely immersed in her work. Scarpetta loves to cook, particularly Italian food. She makes everything from scratch, including pasta and bread, and has a beautiful, custom-built restaurant kitchen in her home. She was married once, to Tony Benedetti; they divorced about 6 years before the beginning of the first novel set in 1986, Postmortem. Since then she had a serious relationship with Mark James, who died in a bombing in a London Tube station (in the novel Cruel and Unusual) and later Benton Wesley, who was supposedly killed in Point of Origin but later reappeared. In 2007's The Book of the Dead, Scarpetta and Wesley become engaged. By the beginning of 2008's Scarpetta, Benton and Kay are married. In addition to a large custom-built house that includes a restaurant kitchen, a great room, and a mud room, Scarpetta also drives a new Mercedes, which she replaces often: in one case, after Lucy wrecks it, and in another after it is involved in the murder of her morgue assistant. (He is not killed in it but near it.) She can't bear to drive it after his death, so she trades it in for a nearly identical car. In the early novels Scarpetta is the Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia and works in Richmond. She resigns after the events of The Last Precinct and relocates to Florida to become a private forensic consultant. Scarpetta returns to Virginia in Trace, convincing herself that she was fired from her position, at the request of her replacement, Dr. Joel Marcus. In Predator, Scarpetta becomes the head of the National Forensic Academy in Hollywood, Florida, a private institution founded by her wealthy niece Lucy. In The Book of the Dead, Scarpetta has relocated as a freelance forensic examiner/expert to Charleston, South Carolina. In Scarpetta(2008), she has relocated to Massachusetts, where she is an M.E., but she and Benton also share an apartment in New York City. In The Scarpetta Factor (2009), she is working full-time and Wesley is working part-time in New York. The name Scarpetta is a diminutive, meaning "Little Shoe", as revealed in the 2009 novel The Scarpetta Factor. This novel points out that the underlying pun is similar to the name of Caligula. whose name means "Little Boot" in Latin. The novel features a website named Caligula, which is involved indirectly in the murder of a young woman. Enjoyed second read very much!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This is the second Kay Scarpetta murder mystery, and I found it even better than the first one, if only because the killer did not come out of nothing, but was previously mentioned in passing earlier in the book. (Scarpetta observes in this book that murder does not happen in a vacuum; everything is connected somehow. And that is also how murder mystery novels should be.) It is 1987, a year after the previous book; Kay Scarpetta is still the Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia, Pete Marino is now This is the second Kay Scarpetta murder mystery, and I found it even better than the first one, if only because the killer did not come out of nothing, but was previously mentioned in passing earlier in the book. (Scarpetta observes in this book that murder does not happen in a vacuum; everything is connected somehow. And that is also how murder mystery novels should be.) It is 1987, a year after the previous book; Kay Scarpetta is still the Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia, Pete Marino is now a Lieutenant Detective (giving him even more freedom to be Scarpetta’s personal go-to policeman), and Benton Wesley is still an FBI Profiler. Scarpetta makes the post-mortem acquaintance of Beryl Madison, a minor novelist who has written her books under various pen names rather than under her real name. Madison is also the protégé of Cary Harper, who wrote one novel twenty years before that won the Pulitzer Prize, and who has lived an extraordinarily reclusive life since, refusing to give interviews and not writing. Madison apparently lived with Harper and his sister for many years; and there are rumors that the book she was working on was autobiographical, which would cause a sensation in the writing world. However, Madison was also being stalked; she fled to Key West, then returned to Richmond some months later, promptly being brutally murdered in her house mere hours after her return. No novel was found, only two photo-copied letters she had written while in Key West to someone named “M.” In the course of her investigation Scarpetta makes the re-acquaintance of an old flame, one whom she loved to distraction much more than he loved her, and finds herself being sued by an entertainment lawyer for having “stolen” the novel Madison had been writing. Things get even more complicated, and Scarpetta finds herself being stalked, apparently by Madison’s killer. This was a very good book, and I very much enjoyed reading it; but I will give Scarpetta a rest, and read one of the hundreds of books I own that I have not read yet before I return to her.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eric_W

    The heroine is Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the Chief Medical Examiner in Virginia. Oh, no, you say, another Ouincv. Wrong, corpse-breath. Scarpetta is intelligent, short, (we don't know whether she is attractive or not, a relief) and she doesn't swoon over each drooling Sylvester Stallone imitation that happens by. (That's something I've always wondered about: How does Travis McGee, the blue-Rolls-Royce-truck-driving hero of John MacDonald's colored-titled novels avoid AIDS, since he seems to have the se The heroine is Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the Chief Medical Examiner in Virginia. Oh, no, you say, another Ouincv. Wrong, corpse-breath. Scarpetta is intelligent, short, (we don't know whether she is attractive or not, a relief) and she doesn't swoon over each drooling Sylvester Stallone imitation that happens by. (That's something I've always wondered about: How does Travis McGee, the blue-Rolls-Royce-truck-driving hero of John MacDonald's colored-titled novels avoid AIDS, since he seems to have the self-restraint of a male nymphomaniac? Anyway, Scarpetta is investigating the murder of a well-known novelist who has returned from the Florida Keys where she has been hiding from someone who keeps threatening to kill her. The night of her return she inexplicably opens the door to the murderer who does just that. The plot thickens as her former boyfriend, a lawyer, appears on the scene worried about her safety and to prevent her (he says) from crossing swords with a crooked entertainment lawyer (redundancy?) who desperately wants the victim's last manuscript. The book is filled with fascinating detail such as the difference between dextromethorphan and levomethorpan which has to do with right and left and why one is legal and the other not. Enough about the plot.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark Harrison

    Decent but pretty routine addition to the series. Two brutal murders linked together, her ex making an unexpected return, a celebrity lawyer out to ruin her and some small red herring to keep you guessing. Started well and then tailed away. Still - love the heroine so will be sticking with the series.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Randy Tramp

    Author, Beryl Madison flees Key West when a terrifying message is scratched on her car. Kay Scarpetta pursues the case of, "Who murdered Beryl Madison and why." What a great series. The action is exciting, the plot is moving, and the characters are intriguing. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta is a likable character. Her high-tech forensic skills enable her to collect a body of evidence. Even though Beryl is murdered, her life lives on. During the investigation, it's like she's there. I love Author, Beryl Madison flees Key West when a terrifying message is scratched on her car. Kay Scarpetta pursues the case of, "Who murdered Beryl Madison and why." What a great series. The action is exciting, the plot is moving, and the characters are intriguing. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta is a likable character. Her high-tech forensic skills enable her to collect a body of evidence. Even though Beryl is murdered, her life lives on. During the investigation, it's like she's there. I loved the way the author weaved the real-time with the case. The mystery stayed to the very end and what and ending. I look forward to the next book in the series.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Number 2 in the Dr Scarpetta series. This mystery takes place over a twenty years, or so, period. At first it sees simple. A young woman's body is found mutilated and the murder is investigated. But as more mutilated bodies keep turning up it soon becomes obvious that thing are not as simple as first thought. To get to the truth Kay and her sidekick, Lt Marino, need to find out what happened almost twenty years ago. As you read it's hard to imagine how the past and the present will come together Number 2 in the Dr Scarpetta series. This mystery takes place over a twenty years, or so, period. At first it sees simple. A young woman's body is found mutilated and the murder is investigated. But as more mutilated bodies keep turning up it soon becomes obvious that thing are not as simple as first thought. To get to the truth Kay and her sidekick, Lt Marino, need to find out what happened almost twenty years ago. As you read it's hard to imagine how the past and the present will come together but with Patricia Cornwell's skill, it all makes perfect sense in the end. Well written, good plot and enough characters to love and hate. What more can you ask for? As much as I enjoyed this book, for me, it fell a bit short of the first book Postmortem but it was still good enough to give it 4 stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lianne - Literary Diversions

    3.5 - enjoyed! Review to follow.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    An author receiving threatening phone calls decides to hide for a while down in Key West and work on her memoir. She’s murdered the very night she sets foot back in Richmond. Kay Scarpetta, Richmond Chief Medical Examiner, investigates the case along with the intensely dislikable Lieutenant Marino. It looks like a psycho stalker did the deed, but the missing manuscript has an unscrupulous and greedy agent complicating the investigation in order to get his hands on the valuable pages. Cornwell’s w An author receiving threatening phone calls decides to hide for a while down in Key West and work on her memoir. She’s murdered the very night she sets foot back in Richmond. Kay Scarpetta, Richmond Chief Medical Examiner, investigates the case along with the intensely dislikable Lieutenant Marino. It looks like a psycho stalker did the deed, but the missing manuscript has an unscrupulous and greedy agent complicating the investigation in order to get his hands on the valuable pages. Cornwell’s writing is fast paced, technical enough to be realistic to those familiar with law enforcement and psychiatry, but also understandable to the lay person (although I’m not sure why the ME is getting so involved, it’s been my experience that they mostly limit their investigations to autopsies and evidence found on the body). Unlike a lot of female protagonists in crime novels, I can’t fault Kay very much with putting herself in dangerous situations, but again, she does get much more involved with the case than one would expect from someone in her job description and much, much closer to the killer than necessary. I mentioned this in my review of the first Kay Scarpetta book, Postmortem but it bears repeating: if your lengthy and intensive investigation leads you almost to the point where you know who/where your killer is and said killer shows up at the protagonist’s home/work/favorite restaurant, etc. and tries to kill him or her, your entire investigation is pointless. You pretty much could have waited until he showed up and saved yourself a lot of trouble. I get that it’s nice to have a suspenseful, dangerous climax, but that does not have to happen on the investigator’s own turf. I like a good crime novel, and this had enough twists, turns, and possible suspects to keep me entertained, but the ending seemed a little pat and coincidental. I would rate it as average. 3 stars.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dhuaine

    A murder of a promising young author opens a chain of events that may threaten Dr Kay Scarpetta herself. Can the police catch the stalker before something horrible happens? ... or something like that. It's my second Scarpetta book and already I can see the common scheme behind the two novels. It starts with homicide, then Scarpetta is attacked by journalists / lawyers / random guys who just want to make a fuss (always because she's a woman on an important position, and she is never helped by anyo A murder of a promising young author opens a chain of events that may threaten Dr Kay Scarpetta herself. Can the police catch the stalker before something horrible happens? ... or something like that. It's my second Scarpetta book and already I can see the common scheme behind the two novels. It starts with homicide, then Scarpetta is attacked by journalists / lawyers / random guys who just want to make a fuss (always because she's a woman on an important position, and she is never helped by anyone), then another homicide happens, then Scarpetta gets personal with the case (why?), and then she is threatened herself by the attacker. Marino wanders around and makes snide comments, Scarpetta on one hand says she's strong and doesn't need the care, while on the other hand has a victim personality, something from her past pops up... And then everything ends with some random conclusion and random dude as the culprit. The ending of volume 2 was especially similar to vol. 1. *sigh* It's hard to sympathize with Dr Scarpetta, the mystery isn't worth trying to solve alone because the facts are not enough to work with. Dr Scarpetta's past is uninteresting. There isn't enough going on in the labs to justify reading further. Forensics book for dummies sounds more interesting than this. I may read more Scarpetta in the future, but only as last resort.

  30. 5 out of 5

    emily c.

    I think it is not as good as other Scarpetta novels. The plot is somewhat loose and compressed only at the end. There is not much thrill reading this one, less gore, too much drama and quite uninteresting characters, especially the killer. A schizophrenic killer, with childhood troubles is frankly common. Though most murderers are loose in the head, writers of this genre must make the person interesting and amuse the readers on the workings of a criminally insane mind as Cornwell has done in her I think it is not as good as other Scarpetta novels. The plot is somewhat loose and compressed only at the end. There is not much thrill reading this one, less gore, too much drama and quite uninteresting characters, especially the killer. A schizophrenic killer, with childhood troubles is frankly common. Though most murderers are loose in the head, writers of this genre must make the person interesting and amuse the readers on the workings of a criminally insane mind as Cornwell has done in her other books; in this one her characterization of the killer fell flat. One thing I am starting to feel as a reader of this series (though I did not read the books in order) is that the focus on Kay Scarpetta has become somewhat tiring. Somehow she ends up always at the center of everything that happens, even the killings turn out to involve her personally; it is always about her. It may be understandable as she is, after all, the hero, the protagonist of this series, but it maybe good to give her a break and make the character see that not everything is about her. A little less focus on the hero perhaps and more on the killers, victims and the amazing technical details will probably help refresh the readers of the wonderful complexity and excitement expected from books in this genre.

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