The third novel in the best-selling Dr Kay Scarpetta series
A killer is stalking young lovers. Taking their lives … and leaving just one tantalising clue …When the bodies of young courting couples start turning up in remote woodlands 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 goes 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 …
About the Author
Patricia Cornwell’s first novel, POSTMORTEM, was published in 1990 and won five international awards. Her Scarpetta novels have since become Number One bestsellers throughout the world. She has also published three police procedurals, HORNET’S NEST, SOUTHERN CROSS and ISLE OF DOGS.
Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta plays a tense cat-and-mouse game with a serial killer, an old enemy, in her sixth outing (following The Body Farm), and he has her badly rattled. The story begins as a rotten Christmas for Scarpetta: Temple Gault has struck again, leaving a naked, apparently homeless girl shot in Central Park on Christmas Eve; Scarpetta, as the FBI's consulting pathologist, is called in. Later, a transit cop is found shot in a subway tunnel, and, back home in Richmond, Va., the body of a crooked local sheriff is delivered to Scarpetta's own morgue by the elusive, brilliant Gault. The normally unflappable Scarpetta finds herself hyperventilating and nearly shooting her own niece. In the end, some ingenious forensic detective work and a visit to the killer's agonized family set up a high-tech climax back in the New York subway, which Gault treats as the Phantom of the Opera did the sewers of Paris. There's something faintly unconvincing about Gault (in a competitive field, it's tough to create a really horrific serial killer), and Scarpetta, stuck with her own family troubles and involved in a rather glum affair with a colleague, seems to be running low on energy. Still, this is a compelling, fast-moving tale, written in a highly compressed style, and only readers who know that Cornwell can do better are likely to complain. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild selections. (Aug.)
Cornwell's Dr. Kay Scarpetta is fast becoming everyone's favorite forensic specialist; her latest outing, The Body Farm (LJ 9/1/94), was #2 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. This time, Scarpetta must contend with a serial killer who has breached the FBI's top secret artificial intelligence system.
School Library Journal
YA-- The decomposed bodies of Fred Cheyney and Deborah Harvey don't show up for months, well into Dr. Kay Scarpetta's account of her investigation into their disappearance. The two lovers are the fifth pair in a string of mysterious ``couple murders,'' all bearing the same characteristics: two young people completely vanish, leaving behind an abandoned car and no clues about their fate. Months later the skeletal remains are found by hunters in remote wooded locales, and no evidence about the causes of death can be discovered. At the same time, the FBI appears to be foiling attempts to discover the identity of the murderer by withholding crime-scene information, and Kay's old friend Abby, a newspaper reporter, complicates matters by conducting her own search for the truth. This rich brew makes for a compelling story to which Cornwell has added such stand-bys from her two previous Scarpetta novels as Pete Marino, a middle-aged police detective, and Benton Wesley, an FBI investigator who knows how to keep a secret. Mystery-loving YAs and fans of Cornwell's previous novels will enjoy her latest.-- Carolyn E. Gecan, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
eading Cornwell's latest is like riding one of those amusement-park roller coasters. The rider gets on, and the car starts slowly up the first big hill, momentarily hesitating at the top before plunging down, down, and around, leaving the rider gasping and breathless, with trembling limbs and a palpitating heart, exhilarated but shaken, even after the ride is over. Cornwell lulls the reader with a slow start, then builds relentlessly to a heart-stopping climax 400 hundred pages later. Virginia medical examiner Kay Scarpetta once again faces her psychopathic nemesis, Temple Gault, the horrifying, seemingly invincible serial killer. Gault has struck again, this time brutally murdering a young homeless woman in New York's Central Park on Christmas Eve. Gault's also broken into CAIN, the know-all, see-all FBI computer system that Scarpetta's niece, Lucy, has created. And in his uncanny way, Gault has entered Scarpetta's mind, anticipating her every thought and move as he goes about his own drug-induced, psychotic killing games. It takes all Scarpetta's steely courage and mental superiority to stay a step ahead of Gault, to try to stop him before he kills again. From Richmond to New York, Scarpetta, her friend Captain Pete Marino, and her niece Lucy stay hot on Gault's trail, and finally, in a terrifying, knuckle-whitening, breathtaking climax, they trap him deep in the bowels of New York's subway system. Once again, Cornwell proves herself one of today's most talented crime fiction writers, an author who keeps her readers on the edges of their seats with magnificent plotting, masterful writing, and marvelous suspense. This is certain to be one of the most popular thrillers of the year.
Fresh from her triumphs in Postmortem (1990) and Body of Evidence (1991), Richmond chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta tries for the hat trick against a killer who attacks couples in cars—five couples so far, including Fred Cheney and Deborah Harvey, daughter of national drug-czar Pat Harvey. A handful of physical clues—a jack of hearts left at each crime scene, the removal of all the victims' shoes and socks, the similarity of the crimes to an isolated murder eight years ago—are all Kay has to work with as she goes up against not only the killer but also scruffy Det. Pete Marino, falling apart now that his wife's left him; her obsessive friend, reporter Abby Turnbull, who's signed a contract to write a book about the murders; the FBI, who are out to protect a killer they suspect is one of their own officers-in-training; and Mrs. Harvey, determined to punish her daughter's murderer herself. The medical detail—encompassing riddles of when and how as well as who—is as sharp and wide-ranging as ever; and although Cornwell takes a chance on a denouement that lacks the slam-bang impact of her earlier endings, she continues to show one of the most astonishing growth curves in the genre. Thanks to Cornwell's forensic expertise, her corpses continue to speak more eloquently than many crime writers' living characters.
Captivating...what a ride!...You'll probably stay up all night turning the pages.
A heckuva good thriller. —USA Today
Series: Scarpetta Novels
Number Of Pages: 416
Published: 2nd September 2010
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 12.6 x 2.8
Weight (kg): 0.33