Patricia Cornwell’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta Series

Patricia_CornwellAbout the author:

Born: Miami, Florida on June 9, 1956

Education:  B.A. English-Davidson College, North Carolina

Website: http://www.patriciacornwell.com/flash/

Thriller Sub-genre: Forensic Thriller

Publisher: William Morrow

Future of the series:  Cornwell’s next Scarpetta novel will be centered in Richmond where the series originated but won’t be out until spring ’18 or later.

Over the last few years I have found that a lot of the fans of the series have become quite disenchanted with how the series has been going.  I personally think it is time for a dramatic change in the series which means only one thing, it is Hasta la vista, baby time for one of the main characters. So, is it time for Lucy, Benton, or Marino to bite the dust? And if so, who? This, of course, would have to be a real death, not the kind of Benton Wesley sort of death (fans of the series, you know what I mean). I think it is time for a poll, so who would you pick to go into the great beyond?

Review of the latest in the series- Chaos

The Simon Review

I thought it would be fitting to choose Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta Series to debut the opening of my blog, as she is the first to make popular the forensic thriller.  (Note, that I did not say that Cornwell wrote the first forensic thriller, that distinction should go to Arthur Conan Doyle with his Sherlock Holmes series, who was the first to use forensic techniques in a thriller.)  The Kay Scarpetta books have been extremely popular, with most of the novels being consistently listed on the New York Times Best Seller Lists.  Even though the novels continue to sell well, not everything is a bed of roses for the series.  Many of her fans would admit that the series lost a lot of its luster half way into the series and most of the complaints are directed toward changes in the persona of the main characters and I would have to agree with them.

All the main characters; Kay Scarpetta, Benton Wesley, Pete Marino and Lucy Farinelli have seen changes that have not necessarily been for the better.  Scarpetta began the series as a tough, smoking, heavy drinking medical examiner that was tenacious in finding the truth no matter what the risk.  However, as the series progressed, Scarpetta became more paranoid and depressed, which one would expect if they worked in a field where human beings are being brutally killed on a daily basis, but it becomes a little overwhelming for the reader.  The darkness that overcomes Scarpetta also makes the character seem weaker and in the eyes of the reader, a strong protagonists is always more desirable.  Also, the smoking and heavy drinking was replaced with yogurt and granola and with it a reason for Scarpetta to consistently harp on Pete Marino about his bad habits.  Additionally, Scarpetta’s rise to fame as a CNN commentator is just plain wrong, I liked her better when she was only a medical examiner.  My recommendation for Kay is to stop the nagging of Pete, Lucy and Benton and focus on catching the bad guy and stay a million miles away from CNN.

Pete Marino seems to have taken a beating worse than all the characters put together.  Marino begins the series as a tough, stereotypical Jersey-type cop who has an antagonistic relationship with Scarpetta in the beginning of the first novel, only to conclude with Marino having a healthy respect for Scarpetta’s abilities and a developing relationship with her as a great crime-fighting duo.  However, Marino’s respect for Scarpetta eventually turns to a “puppy love” infatuation and Marino becomes more a buffoon than the tough minded cop that he was in the beginning.  Cornwell has Marino’s wife leave him for another man, places him in various relationships with vacuous bimbos, has him attempting rape with Scarpetta, gives him a slime-bag loser of a son that is killed off by Lucy and creates a love-hate relationship between him and all the other characters (well maybe a more of a hate relationship with Benton).  My advice to Cornwell would be to stop beating up Marino and turn him back into the great crime fighting character that he was in the beginning.

Benton Wesley is a character that has become increasingly dispassionate as the series progresses.  However, Cornwell seems to have picked up on this fact and has been trying to spark up Benton’s character in the latest novels.  In general, I like Benton Wesley but many fans seem to find him a bit wooden.

That leaves me with Lucy Farinelli which is my least favorite character in the series mostly because Lucy’s character just seems too implausible.  Lucy is a rich, beautiful, genius level computer geek that is a bad-ass, kick butt, FBI to ex-FBI agent who also happens to be a lesbian with bipolar tendencies.  First of all, I know a lot of brilliant computer geeks and beautiful, bad-ass, kick- butt are adjectives that would never come to mind when describing them.  Lucy is just way over the top and I am expecting at anytime for her to spontaneously combust.

Even with the character flaws, Cornwell writes a great fun series and I always look forward to the next book.  I highly recommend it be added to your reading repertoire.  One must definitely start the series from the beginning and follow them in order.

Simon’s pick:

Most Favorite Novel in the Series- Postmortem, because it is a classic and holds its place as a well loved novel.

Least Favorite Novel in the Series-Unnatural Exposure, because Scarpetta, along with Lucy’s technology skills, saves the world from a potential small pox outbreak, it just seems to me to be a bit too much.  I like heroes, but when heroes become implausible saviors, I just tune out.

What about the science?
The fact that Kay Scarpetta is a medical examiner, Lucy Farinelli a computer genius, and Benton Wesley a profiler, most of the science based forensics is in the area of medical physiology and anatomy (Kay), psychology (Benton), and computer technology (Lucy).  Though Cornwell does a fairly decent job when she writes about the medical aspects of forensics, she seems most comfortable in applying computer technology to her stories.  Cornwell is a writer by training and experience and can’t compete with the likes of Kathy Reichs or Aaron Elkins when it comes to the technical aspects of her writings, but I think she does a pretty good job of trying to be accurate.  My main complaint would be that Lucy’s ability as a computer guru is a little over the top, I don’t even think Bill Gates could keep up with Lucy.

The Scarpetta Technical Word in Review: Naphthyl acid phosphate– The male prostate gland secrets high amounts of the enzyme – acid phosphatase into semen.  When naphthyl acid phosphate, in the presence of a dye called Brentamine Fast Blue (which is yellow to dark brown), reacts with the enzyme, acid phosphatase, a fluorescent purple color will form thus indicating the presence of semen.


Betty continued to work.  This stage of testing was relatively simple.  She took the swabs from the test tubes I’d sent to her, moistened them with water and smeared filter paper with them.  Working in clusters, she first dripped napthyl acid phosphate and then added drops of  fast-blue B salt, which caused the smear to pop up purple in a matter of seconds if seminal fluid was present.- Postmortem


Books in the Series by Order:

Vote for your favorite Forensic Thriller on the Forensic Fiction List on Goodreads Listopia.

Goodreads Forensic Fiction Best List

Most Favorite in the series: Cruel & Unusual with a score of 4.11

Least Favorite in the series: Port Mortuary with a score of 3.46

Based on overall ratings from Goodreads, Barnes and Nobles, Library Thing and Amazon (US & UK)

Postmortem#1- Postmortem – 1990 
Winner of the 1991 Anthony Award for Best First Novel

Winner of the 1991 Macavity Award for Best First Novel

Winner of the 1991 Edgar Award for Best First Novel

Winner of the 1990 John Creasy Memorial Award

Winner of the 1990 Prix du Roman d’Adventures Award

Winner of the 1991 CWA Daggar- New Blood Award

Listed #3 out of 120 on Goodreads Forensic Fiction Book List

Listed #7 out of 111 on Goodreads Best Medical Thrillers Book List

First Line:

It was raining in Richmond on Friday, June 6.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta: Dr. Kay Scarpetta is the main protagonist and was educated as a medical doctor and as a lawyer.  She is a medical examiner for part of the series and a forensic consultant for other parts of the series.  She has a love for cooking Italian dishes.

Benton Wesley:  Benton is a psychological profiler and begins the series as an agent for the FBI.  He ultimately retires from the FBI, and works as a consultant at McClean Hospital in the Boston area and later at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.  Benton is married in the beginning of the series but eventually has an affair with Scarpetta.  In time he divorces and marries Scarpetta.

Lucy Farinelli:  Lucy is Scarpetta’s neice and begins the series as a prepubescent precocious computer whiz.  Lucy looks up to Scarpetta as a mother figure and is eventually cuts ties from her real mother.  Lucy’s interest in Scarpetta’s occupation leads Lucy to a career in law enforcement and ultimately becomes a computer specialist for the FBI.  Eventually Lucy’s predisposition to hacking creates trouble for her and results in her removal from the FBI.  Not to worry, Lucy’s larger than life abilities to conjure up state of the art computer programs and gadgets bring in copious amount of funds, making her a multi-millionaire if not billionaire.  Lucy is a lesbian and has two prominent lovers within the series.

Pete Marino: Begins the series as a police homicide detective and later as a consultant and private investigator.  Marino shares a love-hate relationship with Kay Scarpetta.  Marino is depicted in the beginning of the series as the stereotypical Jersey type cop; which means he eats, drinks, smokes and cusses too much, overweight, balding etc.


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia


Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the madman. But this investigation will test Kay like no other, because it’s being sabotaged from within and someone wants her dead.


In Cecile Tyler’s case, it was reported that her face was bleeding, that the bedspread was covered in blood.  An exaggeration, at best.  She had no lacerations, no injuries of this nature.  There was a little bloody fluid coming out of her nose and mouth.  A postmortem artifact.”


From The Best Bad Reviews:

In 2013 SKD from Amazon left this two star review of Patricia Cornwell’s novel Postmortem which was written in 1990.   Don’t you hate it when writers can’t predict the future.

There is a lot of detail regarding computer and DNA technology, which is now outdated. Unfortunately I couldn’t get past that.


Looking for a review of Postmortem?  Check out:

Bibliophile’s Corner

Gregorus Minimus

Murder, She Read: Books and Reviews

Barricades Rise

Ireckonthat

KristyWales

The Mummy Diaries

This-Is-My-Truth-Now


Amazon Rating-US: 4.26 out of 5 stars based on 582 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.34 out of 5 stars based on 240 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.99 out of 5 stars based on 153,047 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 4.10 out of 5 stars based on 378 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.67 out of 5 stars based on 1,150 ratings

Total Score 3.99  (updated 5/24/16)

 

x-ray

 

Body_of_Evidience#2-Body of Evidence – 1991

Listed #20 out of 120 on Goodreads Forensic Fiction Book List

Listed #98 out of 111 on Goodreads Best Medical Thrillers Book List

First Line:

Dear M,

Thirty days have passed in measured shades of sunlit color and changes in the wind.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Benton Wesley, and Pete Marino

Mark James:  FBI agent and Scarpetta’s ex-lover from when they attended law school together.


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia and Key West, Florida


After months of menacing phone calls and feeling that her every move is being watched, successful writer Beryl Madison flees Key West when a terrifying message is scratched on her car. But the very night she returns to Richmond, she deactivates her burglar alarm and opens her door to someone who nearly decapitates her. Why did she let him in, wonders Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta? And, why is Beryl’s latest manuscript missing? Pursuing the answers involves Scarpetta in the murder of another writer – Beryl’s jealous mentor. While she copes with a variety of personal and professional problems, Scarpetta’s high-tech forensic skills enable her to collect a body of evidence – clues that would mean little without her intelligence, compassion, and imagination – that leads her directly into a nightmare all her own.


Looking for a review of Body of Evidence?  Check out:

On a Book Bender

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Ireckonthat

Murder, She Read: Books and Reviews

KristyWales


Amazon Rating-US: 4.33 out of 5 stars based on 305 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.43 out of 5 stars based on 117 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.99 out of 5 stars based on 49,201 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 4.17 out of 5 stars based on 187 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.60 out of 5 stars based on 880 ratings

Total Score 3.99  (updated 5/24/16)

 

gun

 

all_that_remains2#3-All That Remains – 1992

Listed #24 out of 120 on Goodreads Forensic Fiction Book List    

First Line:

Saturday, the last day of August, I started work before dawn.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Benton Wesley, Pete Marino and Mark James


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia


In Richmond, Virginia, young lovers are dying. So far, four couples in the area have disappeared, only to be found months later as mutilated corpses. When the daughter of the president’s newest drug czar vanishes along with her boyfriend, Dr. Kay Scarpetta knows time is short. Following a macabre trail of evidence that ties the present homicides to a grisly crime in the past, Kay must draw upon her own personal resources to track down a murderer who is as skilled at eliminating clues as Kay is at finding them….


All that remains are his bones, Mr. Martin.  When soft tissue is gone, gone with It any possible injury..”


Looking for a review of All That Remains?  Check out:

Bibliophile’s Corner

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C n’ C’s Book Reviews

KristyWales

Pasta’s World

This-Is-My-Truth-Now


Amazon Rating-US: 4.30 out of 5 stars based on 303 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.48 out of 5 stars based on 131 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.03 out of 5 stars based on 44,593 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 4.17 out of 5 stars based on 150 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.58 out of 5 stars based on 811 ratings

Total Score 4.03  (updated 5/24/16)

 

DNA2

 

Cruel_and_Unusual#4-Cruel and Unusual – 1993

Winner of the 1994 CWA Daggar Gold Award

Listed #21 out of 120 on Goodreads Forensic Fiction Book List

Listed #127 out of 168 on Goodreads Best Science Thriller Book List

First Line:

It was two weeks before Christmas.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Benton Wesley, Pete Marino and Lucy Farinelli

Temple Brook Gault: The murderer.  Also goes by the name Hilton Sullivan


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia


When convicted killer Ronnie Joe Waddell is executed in Virginia’s electric chair, he becomes what should be a routine postmortem case for Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta. But after Waddell’s execution, the murders continue, as everyone connected to him begins to die—including a member of Scarpetta’s staff.

Then, when crucial records disappear from her files, Scarpetta comes under fire for incompetence. Caught in a web of political intrigue, betrayed by those she trusted, Scarpetta must fight to free herself from murderous insinuations—and threats to her own life.

To save her career, Scarpetta soon finds herself retracing Waddell’s bloody footprints, following a trail that might lead to long-hidden secrets deep within the state government. Either the truth will set her free—or unleash upon her a punishment both cruel and unusual.


You can understand better, perhaps, my passionate opposition to capital punishment, which is cruel and unusual..”


Looking for a review of Cruel and Unusual?  Check out:

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Ireckonthat

Author: Joesph Clay


Amazon Rating-US: 4.33 out of 5 stars based on 289 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.54 out of 5 stars based on 118 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.11 out of 5 stars based on 85,089 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 4.24 out of 5 stars based on 124 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.64 out of 5 stars based on 836 ratings

Total Score 4.11  (updated 4/13/17)

 

Sequencing gel

 

Body_Farm#5-The Body Farm-1993

Listed #10 out of 120 on Goodreads Forensic Fiction Book List

Listed #103 out of 111 on Goodreads Best Medical Thrillers Book List

Sample Audio Clip

First Line:

One the sixteenth day of October, shadowy deer crept to the edge of dark woods beyond my window as the sun peeked over the cover of night.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Benton Wesley, Pete Marino and Lucy Farinelli

Temple Brook Gault

Carrie Grethen:  Is Lucy’s first love interest who takes advantage of Lucy’s affection to gain access to classified information.  She is later found to have an association with Gault.


The Setting

Black Mountain, North Carolina


When an eleven-year-old girl is found murdered, Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia, gets another chance at stopping one of the most heartless and horrifying serial killers of her career: the demented Temple Gault.


His laboratory was called the The Body Farm, and I had been there many times.”


Looking for a review of The Body Farm?  Check out:

Teen Ink

Murder, She Read: Books and Reviews

It’s All About Books

This-Is-My-Truth-Now

Pasta’s World


Amazon Rating-US: 4.16 out of 5 stars out of 316 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.42 out of 5 stars based on 91 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.03 out of 5 stars based on 50,252 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 4.30 out of 5 stars based on 122 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.64 out of 5 stars based on 958 ratings

Total Score 4.02  (updated 5/24/16)

 

  bacteria

 

From_Potters_Field#6-From Potter’s Field – 1995

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 8/27/1995 – 2 weeks on bestseller list

Sample Audio Clip

First Line:

He walked with sure steps through snow, which was deep in Central Park, and it was late now, but he was not certain how late.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Benton Wesley, Pete Marino, Lucy Farinelli, Temple Brook Gault and Carrie Grethen


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia


Upon examining a dead woman found in snowbound Central Park, Scarpetta immediately recognizes the grisly work of Temple Brooks Gault. She soon realizes that Gault’s murders are but a violent chain leading up to one ultimate kill—Scarpetta herself.


Maybe he won’t.  Maybe they’ll just say that Davila was a dirtbag who got whacked by another drug dealer.  Jane ends up in a pine box in Potter’s Field.  End of story.  Central Park and the subway are safe again.”


Looking for a review of From Potter’s Field?  Check out:

Tales of a Book Addict

That’s What She Read

Murder, She Read: Books and Reviews

Kristywales

This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 4.03 out of 5 stars based on 250 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.54 out of 5 stars based on 81 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 39,141 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 4.30 out of 5 stars based on 109 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.54 out of 5 stars based on 775 ratings

Total Score 3.99  (updated 5/24/16)

 

virus

 

Cause_of_Death#7-Cause of Death – 1996

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 7/21/1996 – 1 week on bestseller list

Listed #30 out of 120 on Goodreads Forensic Fiction Book List

First Line:

On the last morning of Virginia’s bloodiest year since the Civil War, I built a fire and sat facing a window of darkness where at sunrise I knew I would find the sea.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Benton Wesley, Pete Marino and Lucy Farinelli


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia


It is New Year’s Eve, the last day of Virginia’s bloodiest year since the Civil War. Dr. Kay Scarpetta plunges into the murky depths of a ship graveyard to recover the very human remains of Ted Eddings, an investigative reporter. What kind of story was Eddings chasing below the icy surface of the Elizabeth River? And why did Scarpetta receive a phone call from someone reporting the death before the police were notified? She soon discovers that Eddings’ murder is merely the first layer of something much deeper — a labyrinthine conspiracy that will put all of her criminal and forensic knowledge to the test like never before. For Scarpetta, the real challenge won’t be cataloging the growing number of dead bodies, but preventing herself and those she loves from becoming the next victims.


Despite my suspicions about Eddings’ cause of death and the strange events surrounding it, at this moment we legally had no homicide.”


Looking for a review of Cause of  Death?  Check out:

Tales of a Book Addict

Senseless Pie

That’s What She Read

Murder She Read, Books and Reviews

KristyWales

This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 3.50 out of 5 stars based on 274 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.17 out of 5 stars based on 66 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.93 out of 5 stars based on 35,119 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 130 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.43 out of 5 stars based on 709 ratings

Total Score 3.92  (updated 5/24/16)

 

laptop

 

#8-Unnatural Exposure –1997

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 8/3/1997 – 1 week on bestseller list

Listed #22 out of 120 on Goodreads Forensic Fiction Book List

Listed #136 out of 168 on Goodreads Best Science Thriller Book List

Listed #93 out of 111 on Goodreads Best Medical Thrillers Book List

First Line:

Night fell clean and cold in Dublin, and wind moaned beyond my room as if a million pipes played the air.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Benton Wesley, Pete Marino and Lucy Farinelli


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia


Virginia Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta has a bloody puzzle on her hands: five headless, limbless cadavers in Ireland, plus four similar victims in a landfill back home. Is a serial butcher loose in Virginia? That’s what the panicked public thinks, thanks to a local TV reporter who got the leaked news from her boyfriend, Scarpetta’s vile rival, Investigator Percy Ring. But the butchered bodies are so many red herrings intended to throw idiots like Ring off the track. Instead of a run-of-the-mill serial killer, we’re dealing with a shadowy figure who has plans involving mutant smallpox, mass murder, and messing with Scarpetta’s mind by e-mailing her gory photos of the murder scenes, along with cryptic AOL chat-room messages. The coolest innovation: Scarpetta’s gorgeous genius niece, Lucy, equips her with a DataGlove and a VPL Eyephone, and she takes a creepy virtual tour of the e-mailed crime scene.


“…could have been transmitted by unnatural exposure.”

“Deliberately, you’re saying.” 

“I don’t know.”

“I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open…”


Looking for a review of Unnatural exposure?  Check out:

Sciencethrillers

Confessions of a Bibliophile

Our Stack of Books

Tales of a Book Addict

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This Is My Truth Now

Renegade Writings


Amazon Rating-US: 3.64 out of 5 stars based on 379 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.15 out of 5 stars based on 66 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.05 out of 5 stars based on 43,002 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 4.30 out of 5 stars based on 98 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.50 out of 5 stars based on 627 ratings

Total Score 4.04  (updated 5/24/16)

 

fingerprint

 

#9-Point of Origin – 1998

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 7/26/1998 – 1 week on bestseller list

Sample Audio Clip

First Line:

Hey DOC,

Tick Tock

Sawed bone and fire.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Benton Wesley, Pete Marino and Lucy Farinelli

Newton Joyce: The murderer and accomplice to Carrie Grethen.

Carrie Grethen


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia


Dr Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner and consulting pathologist for the federal law enforcement agency ATF, is called out to a farmhouse in Virginia which has been destroyed by fire. In the ruins of the house she finds a body which tells a story of a violent and grisly murder.

The fire has come at the same time as another even more incendiary horror: Carrie Grethen, a killer who nearly destroyed the lives of Scarpetta and those closest to her, has escaped from a forensic psychiatric hospital. Her whereabouts is unknown, but her ultimate destination is not, for Carrie has begun to communicate with Scarpetta, conveying her deadly – if cryptic – plans for revenge.


My guess is that if we’re dealing with the same offender, and the bathroom is the point of origin that all the fires have in common, then it is symbolic.  Represents something to him, perhaps his own point of origin for his crimes.”


Looking for a review of Point of Origin?  Check out:

BookPage

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Bookreporter

Elen Sentier

KristyWales

WonderLandNook

This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 3.45 out of 5 stars based on 620 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.94 out of 5 stars based on 89 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.01 out of 5 stars based on 46,903 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 4.20 out of 5 stars based on 105 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.53 out of 5 stars based on 618 ratings

Total Score 4.00  (updated 5/24/16)

 

DNA3

 

#9.5-Scarpetta’s Winter Table – 1998

On the day after Christmas, Scarpetta make her special pizza pie and Detective Pete Marino creates his “cause-of-death eggnog” (he uses corn liquor), while Lucy Farinelli (a special agent with ATF and Scarpetta’s only niece) goes on a long run in the snowy suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. The next day, Scarpetta flies to Miami to spend a few days with her querulous mother and Sindbad, her Siamese cat. In Richmond, Lucy entertains her friends, all from various federal law enforcement agencies; and Marino first apprehends and then befriends Jimmy Simpson, a ten-year-old boy who had been snowballing his house. In the final scene of the novelette, all the characters (including Jimmy’s mother, who seems to catch Marino’s eye) gather in Scarpetta’s warm house on a cold night to enjoy her famous stew.This book — a special “gift” from Cornwell to her readers — is the perfect holiday gift, and gives the reader insights into her best-known characters that cannot be found in any other work. It is illustrated with photographs that suggest the locales and activities of her characters, and it includes the ingredients for all the dishes described in the story.


Looking for a review of Scarpetta’s Winter Table?  Check out:

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This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 3.57 out of 5 stars based on 72 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.67 out of 5 stars based on 9 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.52 out of 5 stars based on 2,032 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.12 out of 5 stars based on 46 ratings

Total Score 3.52  (updated 8/1/17)

#10-Black Notice – 1999

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 8/22/1999 – 1 week on bestseller list

Sample Audio Clip

First Line:

My Dearest Kay,

I am sitting on the porch, staring out at Lake Michigan as a sharp wind reminds me I need to cut my hair.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino and Lucy Farinelli

Jaime Berger:  A tough very attractive prosecutor that eventually develops a romantic relationship with Lucy

Le Loup Garou or Jean-Baptiste Chandonne: The “werewolf” is the brother of Thomas Chandonne, who is head of a crime family.


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia and France


An intriguing Dr Kay Scarpetta novel which will take Kay an ocean’s breadth away from home. The case begins when a cargo ship arriving at Richmond, Virginia’s Deep Water Terminal from Belgium is discovered to be transporting a locked, sealed container holding the decomposed remains of a stowaway. The post mortem performed by the Chief Medical Examiner, Kay Scarpetta, initially reveals neither a cause of death nor an identification. But the victim’s personal effects and an odd tattoo take Scarpetta on a hunt for information that leads to Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon, where she receives critical instructions: go to the Paris morgue to receive secret evidence and then return to Virginia to carry out a mission. It is a mission that could ruin her career. In a story which crosses international borders, BLACK NOTICE puts Dr Kay Scarpetta directly in harm’s way and places her and those she holds dear at mortal risk.


An unidentified body is a black notice”, I said.  “Usually suspected fugitives with international ties.”


Looking for a review of Black Notice?  Check out:

Bookreporter

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Bookloons

From the Recamier

Wonderlandnook

This Is My Truth Now

Kristy Wales


Amazon Rating-US: 3.14 out of 5 stars based on 765 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.78 out of 5 stars based on 144 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.83 out of 5 stars based on 26,907 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.90 out of 5 stars based on 126 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.41 out of 5 stars based on 605 ratings

Total Score 3.80  (updated 5/24/16)

 

syringe 

 

#11-The Last Precinct – 2000

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 11/5/2000 – 1 week on bestseller list

Sample Audio Clip

First Line:

The cold dusk gives up its bruised color to complete darkness, and I am grateful that the draperies in my bedroom are heavy enough to absorb even the faintest hint of my silhouette as I move about packing my bags.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Lucy Farinelli and Jaime Berger

Jean-Baptiste Chandonne


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia and France


The Last Precinct finds Virginia’s Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta in the middle of a nightmare that began with Black Notice, and continues as she discovers the so-called Werewolf murders may have extended to New York City and into the darkest corners of her past. Scarpetta must struggle to make what she knows to be the truth prevail against mounting evidence to the contrary. By the end of the novel, it is clear that Scarpetta’s life can never be the same.


Lucy said the name The Last Precinct started out as a joke.  Where you go when there is nowhere left.  And in Anna’s letter, she said Benton told her The Last Precinct is where he would end up.  Cryptic. Riddles.  Benton believed his future was somehow connected to what he was putting in that file.  The Last Precinct was death, I then consider.  Where was Benton going to end up?  He was going to end up dead.  Where else would he have end up?”


Looking for a review of The Last Precinct?  Check out:

Bookloons

Tales of a Book Addict

This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 3.26 out of 5 stars based on 512 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.69 out of 5 stars based on 153 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.82 out of 5 stars based on 26,567 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.90 out of 5 stars based on 164 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.28 out of 5 stars based on 564 ratings

Total Score 3.80   (updated 5/24/16)

 

molecule 

#12-Blow Fly – 2003

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 11/2/2003 – 1 week on bestseller list

Sample Audio Clip

First Line:

Dr. Kay Scarpetta move the tiny glass vial close to candlelight, illuminating a maggot drifting in a poisonous bath of ethanol.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Jaime Berger, Lucy Farinelli and Jean-Baptiste Chandonne

Rocco Caggiano: Pete Marino’s son and lawyer to Jean-Baptiste Chandonne and is murdered by Lucy Farinelli in Poland.


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia and Miami, Florida


Fearing that she is about to be fired by the governor, hounded in the media and in the courtroom, Kay Scarpetta leaves Virginia for what she believes will turn out to be the warmth and solace of the Florida sun.

However, Scarpetta is soon deep into a case that has left colleagues in Louisiana profoundly disturbed. A woman is found dead in a seedy hotel, dressed to go out, keys in her hand. Her history of blackouts, and her violent outbursts while under their spell, offer more questions than clues about the cause of her death.

Then Scarpetta receives news that chills her to the core: from his cell on death row, Jean-Baptiste Chandonne – the vicious and unrepentant Wolfman, who pursued her to her very doorstep – demands to see her. Only to Scarpetta will he tell the secrets he knows the authorities desire. After all the death and destruction, what sort of endgame could this violent psychopath have in mind?


Had the larva lived, it would have matured into a bluebottle Calliphora vicina, a blow fly.  It might have laid its eggs in a dead human’s body mouth or eyes, or in a living person’s malodorous wounds.”


Looking for a review of Blow Fly?  Check out:

Bookreporter

Curl Up With A Good Book

Of Books and Reading

Dirtybuzzard

Wonderlandnook

My Book Sanctuary

This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 2.25 out of 5 stars based on 886 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 2.61 out of 5 stars based on 218 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.73 out of 5 stars based on 29,051 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 2.89 out of 5 stars based on 304 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.13 out of 5 stars based on 632 ratings

Total Score 3.66  (updated 5/24/16)

 

fingerprint 

#13-Trace – 2004

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 9/26/2004 – 1 week on bestseller list

First Line:

Yellow bulldozers hack earth and stone in an old city block that has seen more death than most modern wars, and Kay Scarpetta slows her rental SUV almost to a stop.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, Lucy Farinelli


The Setting

Richmond, Virginia; Miami, Florida; and Aspen, Colorado


Dr. Kay Scarpetta, now freelancing from South Florida, returns to the city that turned its back on her five years ago. Richmond, Virginia’s recently appointed chief medical examiner claims that he needs Scarpetta’s help to solve a perplexing crime. When she arrives, however, Scarpetta finds that nothing is as she expected: Her former lab is in the final stages of demolition; the inept chief isn’t the one who requested her after all; her old assistant chief has developed personal problems that he won’t reveal; and a glamorous FBI agent, whom Scarpetta dislikes instantly, meddles with the case.

Deprived of assistance from colleagues Benton and Lucy, who are embroiled in what appears to be an unrelated attempted rape by a stalker, Scarpetta is faced with investigating the death of a fourteen-year-old girl, working with the smallest pieces of evidence — traces that only the most thorough hunters can identify. She must follow the twisting leads and track the strange details in order to make the dead speak — and to reveal the sad truth that may be more than even she can bear …


We have a major problem with the evidence.  The trace evidence recovered from Gilly Paulsson’s body seems identical to trace evidence recovered from the tractor driver, Mr. Whitbey.  Now, I just don’t see how that’s possible unless there’s been some sort of cross-contamination.”


Looking for a review of Trace?  Check out:

Tales of a Book Addict

Little Birdie Reviews

The Working Girl Reviews

Wonderlandnook

Life on the HK Bar

This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 2.81 out of 5 stars based on 582 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.16 out of 5 stars based on 159 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.74 out of 5 stars based on 22,843 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.12 out of 5 stars based on 224 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.13 out of 5 stars based on 535 ratings

Total Score 3.69  (updated 5/24/16)

 

DNA2 

#14-Predator – 2005

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 11/13/2005 – 1 week on bestseller list

First Line:

It is Sunday afternoon and Dr. Kay Scarpetta is in her office at the National Forensic Academy in Hollywood, Florida, where clouds are building, promising another thunderstorm.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley and Lucy Farinelli

Rose:  Scarpetta’s receptionist


The Setting

Florida and Boston, Massachusetts


Scarpetta, now freelancing with the National Forensic Academy in Florida, digs into a case more bizarre than any she has ever faced, one that has produced not only unusual physical evidence, but also tantalizing clues about the inner workings of an extremely cunning and criminal mind.

She and her team — Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, and her niece, Lucy — track the odd connections between several horrific crimes and the people who are the likely suspects. As one psychopath, safely behind bars and the subject of a classified scientific study at a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital, teases Scarpetta with tips that could be fact — or fantasy — the number of killers on the loose seems to multiply. Are these events related or merely random? And what can the study of one man’s brain tell them about the methods of a psychopath still lurking in the shadows?


The case probably isn’t a candidate for the Prefrontal Determinants of Aggressive-Type Overt Responsivity research study known as PREDATOR, Scarpetta decides, vaguely aware of a motorcycle getting louder on the Academy grounds.”


Looking for a review of Predator?  Check out:

Bookloons

Errant Dreams

Tales of a Book Addict

It’s a Crime! Book reviews

Wonderlandnook

This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 2.24 out of 5 stars based on 583 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 2.90 out of 5 stars based on 144 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.66 out of 5 stars based on 21,841 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 2.60 out of 5 stars based on 216 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.14 out of 5 stars based on 534 ratings

Total Score 3.60   (updated 5/24/16)

 

x-ray

 

 

#15-Book of the Dead – 2007

Winner of the 2008 National (UK) Book Award for Best Crime Thriller

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 11/11/2007 – 1 week on bestseller list

First Line:

Water splashing.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, Lucy Farinelli, and Rose


The Setting

Charleston, South Carolina


The “book of the dead” is the morgue log, a ledger in which all cases are entered by hand. For Kay Scarpetta, however, it is about to take on a new meaning. Fresh from her bruising battle with a psychopath in Florida, Scarpetta decides it’s time for a change of pace, not only personally and professionally but geographically. Moving to the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina, she opens a unique private forensic pathology practice, one in which she and her colleagues-including Pete Marino and her niece, Lucy-offer expert crime-scene investigation and autopsy services to communities lacking local access to modern, competent death investigation technology.

It seems like an ideal situation, until the new battles start-with local politicians, with entrenched interests, with someone whose covert attempts at sabotage are clearly meant to run Scarpetta out of town. And that’s before the murders and other violent deaths even begin.

A young man from a well-known family jumps off a water tower. A woman is found ritualistically murdered in her multimillion-dollar beach home. The body of an abused young boy is discovered dumped in a desolate marsh. Meanwhile, in distant New England, problems with a prominent patient at a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital begin to hint at interconnections that are as hard to imagine as they are horrible.

Kay Scarpetta has dealt with many brutal and unusual crimes before, but never a string of them as baffling, or as terrifying, as the ones confronting her now. Before she is through, that book of the dead will contain many names-and the pen may be poised to write in her own.


camera picks up on Lucious walking to the large black log on a countertop, the Book of the Dead, as Rose politely calls it.  He starts signing in the body…”


Looking for a review of Book of the Dead?  Check out:

The Bookbag

Tales of a Book Addict

Working Girl Reviews

Our Virtual English Classroom

You’re History!

Wonderlandnook

Senceless Pie

This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 2.95 out of 5 stars based on 752 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 2.69 out of 5 stars based on 206 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.62 out of 5 stars based on 21,044 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.60 out of 5 stars based on 447 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.09 out of 5 stars based on 499 ratings

Total Score 3.58  (updated 5/25/16)

 

gun 

#16-Scarpetta – 2008

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 12/21/2008 – 1 week on bestseller list

First Line:

Brain tissue clung like wet, gray lint to the sleeves of Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s surgical gown, and the front of it was splashed with blood.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley and Lucy Farinelli

Jack Fielding:  Scarpetta’s deputy chief medical examiner.


The Setting

New York City


Leaving behind her private forensic pathology practice in Charleston, South Carolina, Kay Scarpetta accepts an assignment in New York City, where the NYPD has asked her to examine an injured man on Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric prison ward. The handcuffed and chained patient, Oscar Bane, has specifically asked for her, and when she literally has her gloved hands on him, he begins to talk and the story he has to tell turns out to be one of the most bizarre she has ever heard.

The injuries, he says, were sustained in the course of a murder . . . that he did not commit. Is Bane a criminally insane stalker who has fixed on Scarpetta? Or is his paranoid tale true, and it is he who is being spied on, followed and stalked by the actual killer? The one thing Scarpetta knows for certain is that a woman has been tortured and murdered and more violent deaths will follow. Gradually, an inexplicable and horrifying truth emerges: Whoever is committing the crimes knows where his prey is at all times. Is it a person, a government? And what is the connection between the victims?

In the days that follow, Scarpetta; her forensic psychologist husband, Benton Wesley; and her niece, Lucy, who has recently formed her own forensic computer investigation firm in New York, will undertake a harrowing chase through cyberspace and the all-too-real streets of the city, an odyssey that will take them at once to places they never knew, and much, much too close to home.


Looking for a review of Scarpetta?  Check out:

Blogcritics

Helen’s Book Blog

Curl Up With A Good Book

The Dreamin Demon

Tales of a Book Addict

Quiteirregular

You’re History!

Wonderlandnook

My Book Sanctuary

This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 3.17 out of 5 stars based on 1,067 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.28 out of 5 stars based on 363 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.69 out of 5 stars based on 21,623 rating

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.72 out of 5 stars based on 426 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.30 out of 5 stars based on 430 ratings

Total Score 3.65  (updated 5/25/16)

 

DNA3 

#17-The Scarpetta Factor – 2009

First Line:

A frigid wind gusted in from the East River, snatching at Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s coat as she walked quickly along 30th Street.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, and Lucy Farinelli


The Setting

New York City


It is the week before Christmas. A tanking economy has prompted Dr. Kay Scarpetta-despite her busy schedule and her continuing work as the senior forensic analyst for CNN- to offer her services pro bono to New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. In no time at all, her increased visibility seems to precipitate a string of unexpected and unsettling events. She is asked live on the air about the sensational case of Hannah Starr, who has vanished and is presumed dead. Moments later during the same telecast, she receives a startling call-in from a former psychiatric patient of Benton Wesley’s. When she returns after the show to the apartment where she and Benton live, she finds an ominous package-possibly a bomb-waiting for her at the front desk. Soon the apparent threat on Scarpetta’s life finds her embroiled in a surreal plot that includes a famous actor accused of an unthinkable sex crime and the disappearance of a beautiful millionairess with whom Lucy seems to have shared a secret past.

Scarpetta’s CNN producer wants her to launch a TV show called The Scarpetta Factor. Given the bizarre events already in play, she fears that her growing fame will generate the illusion that she has a “special factor,” a mythical ability to solve all her cases. She wonders if she will end up like other TV personalities: her own stereotype.


The Scarpetta Factor,” Batcha said.  “A great name for your new show.” 

“What you are suggesting is the very thing I’m trying to get away from.” 

“Why get away from it?” 

“It’s become a household word, a cliché.”  “Which is what I sure as hell don’t want to become”, she said, trying not to sound as offended as she felt. 

“What I mean is, it’s the buzz.  Whenever something seems unsolvable, people want the Scarpetta Factor.”


Looking for a review of Scarpetta Factor?  Check out:

Popcorn Reads

The Turn of the Sue

Tales of a Book Addict

Reviewing the Evidence

Quiteirregular

You’re History!

This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 3.17 out of 5 stars based on 1,067 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.28 out of 5 stars based on 363 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.66 out of 5 stars based on 16,661 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.50 out of 5 stars based on 518 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.17 out of 5 stars based on 277 ratings

Total Score 3.61  (updated 5/25/16)

 

bacteria

 

 

port_morturary2#18-Port Mortuary – 2010

Listed #1 on New York Times Bestseller List on 12/19/2010 – 1 week on bestseller list

First Line:

Inside the changing room for female staff, I toss soiled scrubs into a biohazard hamper and strip off the rest of my clothes and medical clogs.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, Lucy Farinelli, and Jack Fielding


The Setting

Cambridge, Massachusetts


A treacherous path from Scarpetta’s past merges with the high- tech highway she now finds herself on. We travel back to the beginning of her professional career, when she accepted a scholarship from the Air Force to pay off her medical school debt. Now, more than twenty years and many career successes later, her secret military ties have drawn her to Dover Air Force Base, where she has been immersed in a training fellowship.

As the chief of the new Cambridge Forensic Center in Massachusetts, a joint venture of the state and federal governments, MIT and Harvard, Scarpetta is confronted with a case that could shut down her new facility and ruin her personally and professionally.


From The Best Bad Reviews:

Here is a review on Patricia Cornwell’s novel Port Mortuary from ‘Shelly’ found on Amazon.  Seems that she has some problems with Ms. Cornwell’s writing style:

Far from the educating & interesting pages she used to write, Patricia Cornwell seems to actually dislike her readers, so much that she is trying to bore us to death. If you’ve not read her last 2-3 books, here is an example of her writing. “Scarpetta had to choose which socks to wear. She had two colors to choose from, black or white. She likes white, but only with long pants. The black ones look better with shorts. But wait, she’s not wearing shorts. So she really could wear either pair. But which to choose? Black or white? She chose the black socks. And in choosing the black socks, she remembered one time she was wearing black socks. It was long ago and a very important memory that radically changed her life. But she’s never, never in 20-some years EVER thought of it before. It was life-altering, but not important enough for her to ever think of it before. She picks up the left sock and rolls it up in her fingers. She sits on the bed and lifts her right foot. Wait, this sock is for her left foot! She raises her left foot and puts her toes into the sock. She pulls the sock up to her ankle and smooths it out over her foot, then puts her foot back on the floor. She rolls the right sock in her fingers and lifts her right foot up onto her other knee. She puts her toes into the sock and pulls it up over her foot. It goes on twisted. She straightens it out and puts her foot back on the floor.”

And in the case of this book, Cornwell would waste 11 pages describing the weave, age, texture of the sock and contemplating whether the sock actually wants to be worn.


Looking for a review of Port Mortuary?  Check out:

My Bookish Ways

Reading at Dawn

Leah’s Literature and Coffee

Valerie Penny’s Book Reviews

Quiteirregular

Paperdollsgetcut’s Blog

Kathy’s Book Bag

You’re History!

Black Cat Book Reviews

Wonderlandnook

This Is My Truth Now


Amazon Rating-US: 2.73 out of 5 stars based on 899 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 2.72 out of 5 stars based on 316 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.53 out of 5 stars based on 15,359 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.30 out of 5 stars based on 1,112 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.11 out of 5 stars based on 261 ratings

Total Score 3.46  (updated 5/25/16)

 

syringe

 

#19-Red Mist – 2011

Winner of the 2011 RBA International Thriller Prize

First Line:

Iron rails the rusty brown of old blood cut across a cracked paved road that leads deeper into the Lowcountry.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, Lucy Farinelli, and Jaime Berger


The Setting

Savannah, Georgia


Determined to find out what happened to her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding, murdered six months earlier, Kay Scarpetta travels to the Georgia Prison for Women, where an inmate has information not only on Fielding, but also on a string of grisly killings. The murder of an Atlanta family years ago, a young woman on death row, and the inexplicable deaths of homeless people as far away as California seem unrelated. But Scarpetta discovers connections that compel her to conclude that what she thought ended with Fielding’s death and an attempt on her own life is only the beginning of something far more destructive: a terrifying terrain of conspiracy and potential terrorism on an international scale. And she is the only one who can stop it.


For an instant I smell the iron smell and hear the hissing red mist as it landed warmly, wetly all over me inside my cold, dark garage.”


Looking for a review of Red Mist?  Check out:

Criminalelement

Rogue Reviews

Mystery Maven Blog

Under My Apple Tree

Barbells & Bookends

Kathy’s Book Bag

Wonderlandnook


Amazon Rating-US: 3.61 out of 5 stars based on 922 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.74 out of 5 stars based on 372 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.73 out of 5 stars based on 17,278 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.70 out of 5 stars based on 634 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.28 out of 5 stars based on 186 ratings

Total Score 3.72  (updated 5/25/16)

 

molecule 

#20-The Bone Bed – 2012

First Line:

Where the Red Willow and Wapiti Rivers merge in the Peace Region of northwestern Alberta, dark green waters tumble and foam around fallen trees and gray sandy islets with white pebble shores.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, and Lucy Farinelli


The Setting

Cambridge, Massachusetts


A woman has vanished while digging a dinosaur bone bed in the remote wilderness of Canada. Somehow, the only evidence has made its way to the inbox of Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, over two thousand miles away in Boston. She has no idea why. But as events unfold with alarming speed, Scarpetta begins to suspect that the paleontologist’s disappearance is connected to a series of crimes much closer to home: a gruesome murder, inexplicable tortures, and trace evidence from the last living creatures of the dinosaur age.

When she turns to those around her, Scarpetta finds that the danger and suspicion have penetrated even her closest circles. Her niece Lucy speaks in riddles. Her lead investigator, Pete Marino, and FBI forensic psychologist and husband, Benton Wesley, have secrets of their own. Feeling alone and betrayed, Scarpetta is tempted by someone from her past as she tracks a killer both cunning and cruel.


Then the steep rocky slope, what I now know is a dinosaur dig site called the Wapiti bone bed, and the image dissolves into a jpg that is violent and cruel.”


Looking for a review of The Bone Bed?  Check out:

Mango Momma’s Book and Movie Review

A Bookworm’s World

You’re History

Kathy’s Book Bag

Barbells and Bookends

Food/Travel/Movies/Books


Amazon Rating-US: 3.78 out of 5 stars based on 2,070 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.91 out of 5 stars based on 619 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.61 out of 5 stars based on 14,836 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.70 out of 5 stars based on 321 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.27 out of 5 stars based on 137 ratings

Total Score 3.64   (updated 5/25/16)

 

laptop 

#21-Dust – 2013

First Line:

The clangor of the phone violates the relentless roll of rain beating the roof like drumsticks.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, and Lucy Farinelli


The Setting

Cambridge, Massachusetts


Massachusetts Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta has just returned from working one of the worst mass murders in U.S. history when she’s awakened at an early hour by Detective Pete Marino.

A body, oddly draped in an unusual cloth, has just been discovered inside the sheltered gates of MIT and it’s suspected the identity is that of missing computer engineer Gail Shipton, last seen the night before at a trendy Cambridge bar. It appears she’s been murdered, mere weeks before the trial of her $100 million lawsuit against her former financial managers, and Scarpetta doubts it’s a coincidence. She also fears the case may have a connection with her computer genius niece, Lucy.

At a glance there is no sign of what killed Gail Shipton, but she’s covered with a fine dust that under ultraviolet light fluoresces brilliantly in three vivid colors, what Scarpetta calls a mineral fingerprint. Clearly the body has been posed with chilling premeditation that is symbolic and meant to shock, and Scarpetta has reason to worry that the person responsible is the Capital Murderer, whose most recent sexual homicides have terrorized Washington, D.C. Stunningly, Scarpetta will discover that her FBI profiler husband, Benton Wesley, is convinced that certain people in the government, including his boss, don’t want the killer caught.


From The Best Bad Reviews:

When most people write a review on a book, they discuss how well they liked the plot, the characters, etc, but an Amazon Customer gave Patricia Cornwell’s novel Dust a poor rating because he/she had a bigger problem or should I say ‘smaller’ problem with the novel.

This book was published in November 2013. The copy I received was not one of the original size, it was a smaller version. I was surprised because no where in the description was it written that this book was 8 1/2 x 6 instead of 9 1/2 x 6 1/2. The book itself is in very good condition just not the standard size.


Looking for a review of Dust?  Check out:

Mysterious Reviews

Ofglassandbooks

A Bookish Libraria

Mary Silva Books

Kathy’s Book Bag

Il Libro PDX


Amazon Rating-US: 3.57 out of 5 stars based on 2,608 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.89 out of 5 stars based on 666 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.49 out of 5 stars based on 10,905 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.40 out of 5 stars based on 278 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.27 out of 5 stars based on 108 ratings

Total Score 3.52  (updated 5/25/16)

 

virus

 

#22-Flesh and Blood – 2014

My Review of Flesh and Blood

Sample Audio Clip

First Line:

Copper flashes like shards of aventurine glass on top of the old brick wall behind our house.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, and Lucy Farinelli


The Setting

Cambridge, Massachusetts


It’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s birthday, and she’s about to head to Miami for a vacation with Benton Wesley, her FBI profiler husband, when she notices seven pennies on a wall behind their Cambridge house. Is this a kids’ game? If so, why are all of the coins dated 1981 and so shiny they could be newly minted? Her cellphone rings, and Detective Pete Marino tells her there’s been a homicide five minutes away. A high school music teacher has been shot with uncanny precision as he unloaded groceries from his car. No one has heard or seen a thing. In this 22nd Scarpetta novel, the master forensic sleuth finds herself in the unsettling pursuit of a serial sniper who leaves no incriminating evidence except fragments of copper. The shots seem impossible, yet they are so perfect they cause instant death. The victims appear to have had nothing in common, and there is no pattern to indicate where the killer will strike next. First New Jersey, then Massachusetts, and then the murky depths off the coast of South Florida, where Scarpetta investigates a shipwreck, looking for answers that only she can discover and analyze. And it is there that she comes face to face with shocking evidence that implicates her techno genius niece, Lucy, Scarpetta’s own flesh and blood.


From The Best Bad Reviews:

Mary Berger from Goodreads gave her review of Patricia Cornwell’s Flesh and Blood.  Now don’t hold back Mary!

When I say I couldn’t put this book down, I mean I couldn’t put it down fast enough.


Looking for other reviews of Flesh and Blood?  Check out:

If These Books Could Talk

Books Are Life-Vita Libri

Nocturnal Library

My Shelf Esteem

Kathy’s Book Bag

Wonderlandnook

Tales of a Book Addict


Amazon Rating-US: 3.89 out of 5 stars based on 2,665 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.09 out of 5 stars based on 716 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.63 out of 5 stars based on 9,969 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.40 out of 5 stars based on 137 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.39 out of 5 stars based on 84 ratings

Total Score 3.70  (updated 5/25/16)

 

Sequencing gel

 

Depraved_Heart#23-Depraved Heart –2015

Sample Audio Clip

 

My Review of Depraved Heart

First Line:

I gave the vintage teddy bear to Lucy when she was ten and she named him Mister Pickle.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, Lucy Farinelli, and Carrie Grethen


The Setting

Cambridge, Massachusetts


Depraved Heart: “Void of social duty and fatally bent on mischief.”

—Mayes v. People, 806 III. 306 (1883)

Dr. Kay Scarpetta is working a suspicious death scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts when an emergency alert sounds on her phone. A video link lands in her text messages and seems to be from her computer genius niece Lucy. But how can it be? It’s clearly a surveillance film of Lucy taken almost twenty years ago.

As Scarpetta watches she begins to learn frightening secrets about her niece, whom she has loved and raised like a daughter. That film clip and then others sent soon after raise dangerous legal implications that increasingly isolate Scarpetta and leave her confused, worried, and not knowing where to turn. She doesn’t know whom she can tell—not her FBI husband Benton Wesley or her investigative partner Pete Marino. Not even Lucy.

In this new novel, Cornwell launches these unforgettable characters on an intensely psychological odyssey that includes the mysterious death of a Hollywood mogul’s daughter, aircraft wreckage on the bottom of the sea in the Bermuda Triangle, a grisly gift left in the back of a crime scene truck, and videos from the past that threaten to destroy Scarpetta’s entire world and everyone she loves. The diabolical presence behind what unfolds seems obvious—but strangely, not to the FBI. Certainly that’s the message they send when they raid Lucy’s estate and begin building a case that could send her to prison for the rest of her life.


“Technically, legally I’m sure they haven’t,” Janet replies. “I guarantee you they didn’t hire Carrie, they didn’t contract with her to hurt Kay last June or kill us. What they’ve done is far more clever and diabolical. It’s an open invitation to commit a violent act, and yes it’s willful negligence. It’s complete disregard for human life, the absolute definition of a depraved heart crime,” she adds to my disbelief. “It should be criminal. But it’s the FBI, Lucy. And there’s no accountability unless there is a perceived political obstruction such as an embarrassment to POTUS.


Looking for a review of Depraved Heart?  Check out:

Espresso Coco

Bibliophile Book Club

The Last Word- Book Review

Kathy’s Book Bag

BlackFive

Stardust Chava’s Blog

Karina Pinella

Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie

Buried Under Books

Book Reviews To Ponder

CrimeWorm


Amazon Rating-US: 3.29 out of 5 stars based on 1,750 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.85 out of 5 stars based on 342 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.55 out of 5 stars based on 6,226 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 3.00 out of 5 stars based on 72 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.45 out of 5 stars based on 33 ratings

Total Score 3.50  (Updated 5/25/16)

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Chaos#24-Chaos – 2016

My Review of Chaos

First Line:

Beyond the brick wall bordering Harvard Yard, four tall chimneys and a gray slate roof with white-painted dormers peek through the branches of hardwood trees.


Characters

Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino, Benton Wesley, Lucy Farinelli, and Carrie Grethen


The Setting

Cambridge, Massachusetts


In the quiet of twilight, on an early autumn day, twenty-six-year-old Elisa Vandersteel is killed while riding her bicycle along the Charles River. It appears she was struck by lightning—except the weather is perfectly clear with not a cloud in sight. Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the Cambridge Forensic Center’s director and chief, decides at the scene that this is no accidental Act of God.

Her investigation becomes complicated when she begins receiving a flurry of bizarre poems from an anonymous cyberbully who calls himself Tailend Charlie. Though subsequent lab results support Scarpetta’s conclusions, the threatening messages don’t stop. When the tenth poem arrives exactly twenty-four hours after Elisa’s death, Scarpetta begins to suspect the harasser is involved, and sounds the alarm to her investigative partner Pete Marino and her husband, FBI analyst Benton Wesley.

She also enlists the help of her niece, Lucy. But to Scarpetta’s surprise, tracking the slippery Tailend Charlie is nearly impossible, even for someone as brilliant as her niece. Also, Lucy can’t explain how this anonymous nemesis could have access to private information. To make matters worse, a venomous media is whipping the public into a frenzy, questioning the seasoned forensics chief’s judgment and “a quack cause of death on a par with spontaneous combustion.”


“I recognize your name, your initials, and the word chaos,” Lucy continues to describe what she could make out in the most recent audible harassment. “Apparently chaos in Italian is pretty much the same thing in English.”

“In Italian there’s no h. It’s spelled c-a-o-s.” I pronounce it for her.

“Yes.” Lucy nods. “That’s exactly what I heard. Chaos is coming, or something like that.”


Looking for a review of Chaos?  Check out:

The Last Word Book Review

GingerBookGeek

IReadNovels

CrimeWorm

Bibliophile Book Club

The Poisoned Martini

The Savvy Reader

Rhapsody In Books Weblog

The Real Book Spy

Black Dog Speaks

AngelNetReviews.com

Book Reviews To Ponder

Lynn S Farris


Amazon Rating-US: 3.32 out of 5 stars based on 1,332 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.60 out of 5 stars based on 161 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.57 out of 5 stars based on 6,006 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: 2.00 out of 5 stars based on 31 ratings

Library Thing Ratings: 3.00 out of 5 stars based on 15 ratings

Total Score 3.52 (updated 4/13/17) 

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8 thoughts on “Patricia Cornwell’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta Series

  1. In recent books Scarpetta has become way too introspective. The recent books spend half the book in introspection: Does Benton know something that Kay does not; does Lucy know something that Kay does not; do Lucy and Benton know something that Kay does not know. I say give up the many, many pages of introspection and consentrate on solving the crime. And “Flesh and Blood” does not end with capturing the criminal, but ends with a SNAP. A waste of the reader’s time. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

  2. I was a huge fan of this series until–as Alan says–she got too inside herself. I switched to the Bones TV show and think that one’s also falling over the edge. I need a new one!

  3. First, thanks for liking my review of the Lincoln Child’s “The Forgotten Room.” Second, I agree how the Scarpetta series seems to get old and tired. I read all the books in the Scarpetta series, as well as the two other series of characters Patricia Cornwell started. I think it’s time to conclude the Scarpetta series and concentrate on the new ones she created. As for the actress to play Scarpetta, I agree 100% that Sharon Stone would be perfect. Scarpetta’s description does bring to mind Sharon Stone, and definitely not Angelina Jolie, who I like, but I don’t think would make a good Scarpetta.

  4. The Scarpetta series started off really strongly but after a while they seemed to run out of steam, maybe when Cornwell changed the narration style to the third person. The main characters seem to spend all their time depressed and at each others throats or else not speaking to each other. I hate how Marino, who was my favorite character, turned into a moody, sulking man child. Also Lucy, Scarpetta’s niece is way over the top, she’s like James Bond, Albert Einstein and John Rambo all rolled into one. Having said that, you can’t go wrong with the first few books, especially the debut Postmortem. Meg Ryan or Melanie Griffiths might make a good Scarpetta, maybe Michelle Pfeiffer. Charlize Theron for a Postmortem era portrayal perhaps.

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