Author Guide: Patricia Cornwell - Book List & Blurbs

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This Author Guide for Patricia Cornwell provides a bibliography of Patricia Cornwell's works. Blurbs are also included to help you decide whether her books are for you or not. Blurbs are taken directly from copies of Patricia Cornwell's books as they come available to sell in our eBay Store - Secondhand Bookstore.

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Dr Kay Scarpetta

Post Mortem

A serial killer is on the loose in Richmond, Virginia. Three women have died, brutalised and strangled in their own bedrooms. There is no pattern: the killer appears to strike at random - but always early on Saturday mornings.

So when Dr Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical officer, is awakened at 2.33am, she knows the news is bad: there is a fourth victim. And she fears now for those that will follow unless she can dig up new forensic evidence to aid the police.

But not everyone is pleased to see a woman in this powerful job. Someone may even want to ruin her career and reputation...

'Terrific first novel, full of suspence, in which even the scientific bits grip' The Times

'An excellent chiller with pace and tension' Sunday Telegraph

Body of Evidence


Someone is stalking Beryl Madison. Someone who spies on her and makes threatening, obscene phone-calls. Terrified, Beryl flees to Key West - but eventually she must return to her Richmond home. The very night she arrives, Beryl inexplicably invites her killer in...

Thus begins for Dr Kay Scarpetta the investifgation of a crime that is as convoluted as it is bizarre. Why would Beryl open the door to someone who brutally slashed and then nearly decapitated her? Did she know her killer? Adding to the intrigue is Beryl's enigmatic relationship with a prize-winning author and the disappearance of her own manuscript.

As Scarpetta retraces Beryl's footsteps, an investigation that begins in the laboratory with microscopes and lasers leads her deep into a nightmare that soon becomes her own.

'Cornwell is the one to beat when it comes to slick, speedy chillers' Sunday Telegraph

'A great writer... read these books only in broad daylight' Daily Mail

All That Remains

A killer is stalking young lovers. Taking their lives... and leaving just one tantalizing clue...

When the bodies of young courting couples start turning up in remote woodland areas, Dr Kay Scarpetta's task as Chief Medical Examiner is made more difficult by the effects of the elements. Eight times she must write that the cause of death is undetermined.

But when the latest girl to go missing turns out to be the daughter of one of the most powerful women in America, Kay finds herself prey to political pressure and press harassment.

As she starts to investigate, she finds that vital evidence is being withheld from her - or even faked. And all the time a cunning, sadistic killer is still at large...

'Another triumph for Patricia Cornwell's special brew of forensic and intuitive sleuthing' Sunday Times

'Embodies the most enticing kind of expertise and independence' TLS

'Scapel-sharp... the pathology is stomach-churningly accurate - and the detection stimulatingly intelligent' Sunday Express

Cruel & Unusual

Cruel and Unusual won the CWA Gold Dagger Award and takes Patricia Cornwell to even greater heights, confirming the extraordinary range and power of this gifted author.

At 11.05 one December evening in Richmond, Virginia, convicted murderer Ronnie Joe Waddell is pronounced dead in the electric chair.

At the morgue Dr Kay Scarpetta waits for Waddell's body. Preparing to perform a post mortem before the subject is dead is a strange feeling, but Scarpetta has been here before. And Waddell's death is not the only newsworthy event on this freezing night: the grotesquely wounded body of a young boy is found propped against a rubbish skip. To Scarpetta the two cases seem unrelated, until she recalls that the body of Waddell's victim had been arranged in a strikingly similar position.

Then a third muder is discovered, the most puzzling of all. The crime scene yields very few clues: old blood stains, fragments of feather, and - most baffling - a bloody fingerprint that points to the one suspect who could not possibly have committed this murder.

'Chillingly detailed forensic thriller confirming Cornwell as the top gun in this field.' Daily Telegraph

'This book is another dazzler from the woman who has raised crime writing on to a new plateau.' Irish Press

'Perhaps the first entirely credible woman sleuth, Scarpetta is closest to Sherlock Holmes in relying entirely on her brain rather than breaks or brawn to solve baffling cases.' Amanda Craig, Independent

The Body Farm

Black Mountain, North Carolina: a sleepy little town where the local police deal with one homocide a year, if they're unlucky, and where people are still getting used to the idea of locking their doors at night.

But violent death is no respecter of venue, and the discovery of the corpse of an 11-year-old girl sends shock-waves through the community. Dr Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner on a similar case in Virginia, is called in to apply her forensic skills to this latest atrocity, but the apparent simplicity of the case proves something of a poisoned chalice - until Scarpetta finds enlightenment through the curious pathologists' playground known as the Body Farm...

From the award-winning author of Cruel and Unusual, a spellbinding new Scarpetta mystery that once again proves Patricia Cornwell's complete mastery of the genre.

'There can now be little doubt that Cornwell is America's most stimulating and chilling writer of crime fiction. But even she will find it difficult to better The Body Farm' Marcel Berlins, The Times

'There are passages in Cornwell's novels which stop you in their tracks... [She] deploys prose like a scalpel' Literary Review

'[Cornwell] has immense knowledge and cracking pace' Clare Francis, Sunday Express Books of the Year

From Potter's Field

Christmas has never been a particularly good time for Dr Kay Scarpetta. Although a holiday for most, the festivities always seem to heighten the alienation felt by society's violent fringe; and that usually means more work for Scarpetta. Virginia's Chief Medical Examiner and consulting forensic pathologist for the FBI.

The body was naked, female, and found propped against a fountain in a bleak area of New York's Central Park. Her apparent manner of death points to a modus operandi that is chillingly familiar: the gunshot wound to the head, the sections of skin excised from the body, the displayed corpse - all suggest that Temple Brooks Gault, Scarpetta's nemesis, is back at work.

Calling on all her reserves of courage and skill, and the able assistance of colleagues Marino and Wesley, Scarpetta must track this most dangerous of killers in pursuit of survival as well as justice - heading inexorably to an electrifying climax amid the dark, menacing labyrinths of the New York subway.

Following the critical and commercial success of Patricia cornwell's five previous bestselling crime novels featuring Dr Kay Scarpetta, From Potter's Field achieves the remarkable feat of further expanding the range of this gifted author. Superbly crafted, utterly gripping, this is simply her best yet.

'America's most stimulating and chilling writer of crime fiction' The Times

Cause of Death

New Year's Eve and the final murder scene of Virginia's bloodiest year since the Civil War takes Scarpetta thirty feet below the Elizabeth River's icy surface. A scuba diver, Ted Eddings, is dead, an investigative reporter who was a favourite at the Medical Examiner's office. Was Eddings probing the frigid depths of the Inactive Shipyard for a story, or simply diving for sunken trinkets? And why did Scarpetta receive a phone call from someone reporting the death before the police were notified?

With the advent of a second murder - this one hitting even closer to home - the case envelops Scarpetta, her niece Lucy, and police captain Pete Marino in a world where both cutting-edge technology and old-fashioned detective work are critical offensive weapons. Together they follow the trail of death to a well of violence as dark and forbidding as the water that swirled over Ted Eddings.

Through six riveting, expertly crafted Kay Scarpetta novels, Patricia Cornwell has earned an international following of passionate readers. With Cause of Death, she brilliantly delivers the high-tension suspense that has secured her unique status.

'Each of Cornwell's books is just as good as its predecessor' The Independent

Unnatural Exposure

'Imitators now abound, but - pathologically speaking - nobody does it like Cornwell' Literary Review

Dublin, Ireland and Richmond, Virginia: separated by thousands of miles - linked by murder. For Dr Kay Scarpetta a lecture stint in Ireland provides the perfect opportunity to find out if the murders on both sides of the Atlantic are indeed connected. Five dismembered, beheaded bodies were found in Ireland years ago - now four have been discovered in the States.

But the tenth corpse in Virginia is different. There are vital discrepancies, and an indication that the elderly victim was already seriously ill. A copy-cat killing. Goulish, perhaps, but not unusual.

And then abject terror grips Scarpetta and her colleagues when the next body is found. The circumstances of death broadcast a clear and horrifying message: the killer is armed with the most lethal weapon on earth - smallpox.

'For all the gory detail Cornwell's novels are oddly comforting. Virtue will out' Frances Fyfield, The Independent

'No one is better than Cornwell at blending the details of leading-edge science and old-fashioned, blood-curdling horror' Val McDermid, Express on Sunday

Point of Origin

Dr Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner and consulting forensic pathologist for the federal law enforcement agency ATF, is called out to an isolated farmhouse in Virginia which has been destroyed by fire. In the ruins of the house she finds a body which tells a story of 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 are unknown, but her ultimate destination is not, for Carrie has begun to communicate with Scarpetta, conveying her deadly - if cryptic - plans for revenge.

The fire and Carrie's escape combine to enmesh Scarpetta, her lover Benton Wesley, investigator Pete Marino and her niece Lucy into a web of chilling intrigue and naked fear. It appears the fire was the work of a serial killer who has struck before - at a time when Carrie was safely incarcerated in prison, and Carrie, with her own murderous agenda, is coming closer...

Chillingly mesmeric in tone, labyrinthine in structure, Point of Origin is Patricia Cornwell at her most dazzling. Pitting her heroine against greater odds than ever before, incorporating complex and authentic forensic detail, she scales new and remarkable heights in a novel of powerful intensity and papable emotion.

'Imitators now abound, but - pathologically speaking - nobody does it like Cornwell' Literary Review

Black Notice

'Scarpetta is a compassionate, moral crusader, a force for good in a sea of evil' Daily Mail

While Lucy Farinelli goes undercover in Miami to bring down a notorious criminal cartel, Dr Kay Scarpetta and Pete Marino discover a body in a cargo ship recently arrived from Belgium at Virginia's Deep Water Terminal in Richmond. Initially it seems as though it may be the decomposed remains of a stowaway, but Scarpetta's post mortem reveals neither a cause of death nor an identification. So the victim's personal effects and an odd tattoo take Scarpetta on a hunt for information that eventually leads her and Marino to Interpol's headquarters in Lyon.

At first the highly confidential information they receive seems incredible, a bizarre trail of conspiracy and deceit, but inexorably the facts reveal a web of privileged and criminal arrogance which puts Dr Kay Scarpetta directly in harm's way, and places her and those she holds dear at mortal risk.

The Last Precinct

Chandonne has been arrested. But Scarpetta's problems are just beginning.

We enter The Last Precinct through the reverberating aftershocks of Black Notice, inconceivably finding Virginia's Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta an object of suspicion - and criminal investigation. And the nightmare perpetuated on Scarpetta's doorstep continues as she discovers that the so-called Werewolf murders may have extended to New York City and into the darkest corners of her past. When a formidable prosecutor, a female assistant district attorney from New York, is brought into the case, Scarpetta must struggle to make what she knows to be the truth prevail against mounting and unnerving evidence to the contrary. Tested in every way, she turns inward to ask where do you go when there is nowhere left? The answer if the Last Precinct. By the end of the novel, it is clear that Scarpetta's life can never be the same.

Woven through with extraordinary forensic detail, the larger than life presence of Scarpetta's niece Lucy and her colleague Captain Pete Marino, and a palpable sense of fear that keeps readers looking back - into the past for clues, and over their shoulders for the next enigmatic act of violence - The Last Precinct marks a new era for Kay Scarpetta and a triumphant achievement for Patricia Cornwell.

Blow Fly

Kay Scarpetta's work as Virginia's Chief Medical Examiner has come to an end. Fearing that she is about to be fired by the governor, hounded in the media and in the courtroom, for what some claimed was her involvement in the murder of a deputy police chief, Scarpetta packs up her belongings and sets out for the warmth and solace of the Florida sun.

Settling into a new life as a private forensic consultant, 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 backouts 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 deathrow, Jean-Baptiste Chandonne - the vicious and unrepentant Wolfman, who pursued her to her very doorstep - demands to see her. Only to her will he tell the secrets he knows the authorities desire: the evidence that will bring a global investigation to a swift conclusion. Scarpetta, her niece Lucy, and her colleague Detective Pete Marino are left to wonder: after all the death and destruction, what sort of endgame could this violent psychopath have in mind?

With her knowledge of state-of-the-art forensics and investigative techniques that have made her America's most alluring crime writer, Patricia Cornwell once again brings to life a world both frightening and irresistibly compelling. Blow Fly is Scarpetta's - and Cornwell's - most unforgettable journey yet.


Five years after being sacked as Chief Medical Examiner Dr Kay Scarpetta returns to Richmond, Virginia, and she is back with a vengeance. A vengeance not of her own making.

Her return, as consultant pathologist in the mysterious death of a teenage girl, ruffles a few feathers - her own included. Yet Gilly Paulsson's death has stumped the best in the business. There is no obvious cause; nothing suspicious except for the fact that Gilly shouldn't be dead. The case has also stumped Dr Joel Marcus, the new Chief Medical Examiner - who is not the best in the business. Scarpetta knows as much. Pete Marino, accompanying her, says as much. And soon there's evidence to prove it - trace evidence uncovered by Scarpetta. Gilly Paulsson was murdered. But why?

Scarpetta's niece, Lucy Farinelli, doesn't want her aunt to get involved. Nor does her lover, Benton Wesley. Yet with the former in Florida and the latter in Aspen, distance divides them. And Lucy, head of a hugely successful international investigation firm, has troubles of her own. One of her operatives has been attacked in her home. And whoever attacked her has left evidence of his presence. Very clear evidence. It's as if he deliberately left traces...

For Scarpetta, what began as a forensic puzzle expands into a larger, far more alarming picture. But still the vital pieces are missing. Who is the person tightening a web around Aspen, Florida and Richmond, drawing her and her loved ones towards danger and death? There's mystery behind his methods - but not his murderous motives. 'Revenge' is stamped all over this one...

A stunning exercise in psychology and suspence, accompanied by a dazzling display of detail, Trace provides blinding evidence of Patricia Cornwell at her best. Bringing Kay Scarpetta back to the once-familiar territory of her morgue and her department, she plunges her heroine - and her legion of followers - into an environment that has become familiar, fascinating and irresistible to readers across the globe.


Florida is full of predators, from the animals who thrive in its humid heat to the humans who stalk the air-conditioned malls, and they all give Dr Kay Scarpetta, now Director of Forensic Science and Medicine at the National Forensic Academy, the opportunity and the means to do what she does best - persuading the dead to speak to her.

In the icy chill of Boston, Benton Wesley is working on a secret project involving convicted killers, one of whom appears to confess to an even higher number of murders than the authorities had known about. It is a project that gives Scarpetta deep disquiet, as does the behaviour of her niece Lucy, who is spending too much time drinking and indulging in casual pick-ups in cheap bars.

The Academy is called in to assist in the discovery of a young woman's remains in Massachusetts. She has been tortured, sexually abused, her body tattooed with handprints. The same sort of handprints Lucy had seen on the flesh of her latest pick-up. Meanwhile, Scarpetta and Marino are investigating the disappearance of a family in Florida. A neighbour had appealed to them directly, insisting that the local police were not taking the case seriously. But as they search and find the tell-tale signs of abduction rather than disappearance, they also discover that someone had assumed the identity of the caller, and she is now dead. They've been set up. And it becomes terrifyingly clear that somebody is tracking their every move.

With her unique combination of high-powered story-telling and formidable forensic knowledge, Patricia Cornwell has again created a novel that is intriguing, chilling and forcefully readable.

Book of the Dead


Leaving behind her forensic pathology practice in South Carolina, Kay Scarpetta takes up an assignment in New York City, where the NYPD has asked her to examine an injured patient in a psychiatric 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.

He says his injuries 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 only thing Scarpetta knows for certain is that a woman has been tortured and murdered - and that more violent deaths will follow...

Twenty years after creating Kay Scarpetta, Patricia Cornwell has written her most extraordinary novel yet. Gripping and packed with characteristic twists and turns, it resoundingly proves that 'no one is better than Cornwell'.

Andy Brazil

Hornet's Nest


Deputy Chief Virginia West has a mood to match the heat in the city of Charlotte. Another out-of-town businessman has been found murdered in his hire car, a wise-ass detective has taken her parking slot, the new police headquarters still resembles a construction site and her boss is telling her to go out on patrol as escort to Andy Brazil, a rookie reporter on the local paper.

However, he's not the only cause of West's increased nicotine intake: departmental in-fighting, court appearances, her boss coping with an obese husband, and a never-ending stream of burglaries, busts and bodies.

With great style, humour and empathy Patricia Cornwell brings policing a city to three-dimensional life with verve and fast-moving tension. It is entertainment of the highest calibre.

'A riveting, stay-up-all-night chiller' Elle

Southern Cross

In her best-selling novel Hornet's Nest, Patricia Cornwell displayed her intuitive understanding of policemen and women and introduced her readers to Judy Hammer, Virginia West and Andy Brazil. In this fast-moving sequel she again portrays this trio - sometimes passionate, vulnerable or heroic, always professional.

This time the setting is Richmond, Virginia, and Patricia Cornwell takes us even closer to the personal and public lives of a big city police force where corruption, scandal and robberies escalate into murder. Police Chief Judy Hammer has been hired to clean up the crime rate. Reeling from the recent death of her husband, and resented by her staff and the city's establishment, she is joined by West and Brazil on the most difficult assignment of her career. In the face of overwhelming public scrutiny the trio must bring order and sanity to a city in trouble.

The roller-coaster new novel from one of the world's best read story-tellers is fast, funny and fantastically entertaining; a melange of personal conundrums, police procedures, high drama, low-life - topped off with an intoxicating dash of comedy.

Isle of Dogs

The number one bestselling author of Hornet's Nest and Southern Cross delivers an irreverent portrait of politically driven law enforcement run amok, with a wry tale of life and turmoil behind the thin blue line.

Chaos breaks loose when the Governor of Virginia orders that speed traps be installed on all streets and highways, and warns that motorists will be caught by monitoring aircraft flying overhead. But the eccentric inhabitants of Tangier, an island fourteen miles off the coast of Virginia in Chesapeake Bay, respond by threatening to secede and set up an independent state, claiming that their independence lies in the history of America's first settlers, those who set sail from London's Isle of Dogs in 1607.

Judy Hammer, newly installed as the superintendent of Virginia State Police, and Andy Brazil, state trooper and Hammer's right-hand confidant, find themselves at their wits' end as they try to protect the public from the politicians and vice versa in this pitch-perfect, darkly comic romp.

With a Swiftian eye for the absurd and a deadly accurate aim on her targets, Cornwell has created another knowing story about real-life policing.

Winston Garano

At Risk

A Massachusetts state investigator is called home from the National Forensic Academy in Tennesse. His boss, an attractive but hard-charging woman, is running for governor, and as a showcase plans to use a new crime initiative called At Risk - motto: 'Any crime, any time.' She's looking for a way to employ cutting-edge DNA technology, and thinks she's found it in a twenty-year-old murder - in Tennesse. If her office solves the case, they'll all look pretty good, right?

Her investigator is not so sure, but before he can open his mouth a shocking piece of violence intervenes, an act that shakes up not only their lives but the lives of everyone around them...

'In AT RISK, Cornwell has returned to what she does best... Superb' Independent

'This is Cornwell writing at the top of her form. It is a rich little feast of a book and will satisfy even the most demanding of readers' Irish Times

The Front


Food to Die for: Secrets from Kay Scarpetta's Kitchen

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper

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