Patricia Cornwell books in order
Patricia Cornwell is an American writer and international bestselling author of mystery, thriller, crime, suspense and non-fiction novels.
Born in Miami, Cornwell sold her debut novel, Postmortem (1990), while still working as a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia.
Her inspiration came from a string of brutal killings in Richmond, Virginia, where a number of the tales are set.
The book would go on to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards, as well as the French Prix du Roman d’Aventure prize—the very first book to receive such recognitions in a single year.
Cornwell’s books have been translated into thirty-six languages, selling more than 100 million copies all over the globe.
The author of twenty-nine New York Times bestsellers, Cornwell currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
She holds a degree in English from Davidson College.
Genres: Crime Suspense, Mystery, Non-fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Andy Brazil Series
- Hornet's Nest (1996)
- Southern Cross (1998)
- Isle of Dogs (2001)
Captain Chase Series
- Quantum (2019)
- Spin (2020)
- Ruth, A Portrait: The Story of Ruth Bell Graham (1983)
- Food to Die For: Secrets From Kay Scarpetta's Kitchen (2001)
- Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed (2002)
- Chasing the Ripper (2014)
- Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert (2017)
- Life's Little Fable (1999)
Winston Garano Series
- At Risk (2006)
- The Front (2008)
Kay Scarpetta Series
- Postmortem (1990)
- Body of Evidence (1991)
- All That Remains (1992)
- Cruel and Unusual (1993)
- The Body Farm (1994)
- From Potter's Field (1995)
- Cause of Death (1996)
- Unnatural Exposure (1997)
- Point of Origin (1998)
- Scarpetta's Winter Table (1998)
- Black Notice (1999)
- The Last Precinct (2000)
- Blow Fly (2003)
- Trace (2004)
- Predator (2005)
- Book of the Dead (2007)
- Scarpetta (2008)
- The Scarpetta Factor (2009)
- Port Mortuary (2010)
- Red Mist (2011)
- The Bone Bed (2012)
- Dust (2013)
- Flesh and Blood (2014)
- Depraved Heart (2015)
- Chaos (2016)
- Autopsy (2021)
Detailed book overview
Andy Brazil Series
Deputy Chief Virginia West likes and respects her boss, Hammer, but with an increasing number of visiting businessmen being murdered in her city by a maniac with a penchant for painting his victims bright orange, she finds it hard to accept Hammer's edict that a rookie reporter should ride on patrol with her to better relations with their citizens.
Her worst fears are confirmed when the reporter, Brazil, presses the button to activate the boot-release rather than the siren on their first outing. He's not the only blight on her life right now: her cat's angsty, her hormones are misbehaving, her opposite number in the uniformed division is behaving like a jackass, the radio despatcher is determined to trip her up, the D.A. is in the middle of a hot battle with the trial schedule. And orange coloured corpses keep turning up on her patch.
Director: Millicent Shelton
Cast: Sherry Stringfield, Robbie Amell, Michael Boatman, Michael B. Silver, Gary Basaraba, Dax Griffin, Gregory Alan Williams, Virginia Madsen, Anthony Addabbo, Adora Dei
Judy Hammer has accepted the challenge of Richmond, Virginia's police department to try and reverse the escalating crime statistics in the city. She brings with her Deputy Chief Virginia West and Andy Brazil, now a full-time police officer. They find a lot of things they are all too familiar with - teenage gangs, a rash of robberies at cash dispensers, street corner drug-dealing, racial tensions, too many people with too many guns and a cardiac inducing lack of parking spaces.
They also meet resentment from the established police force and over-high expectations from the city's institutions. Then a computer virus crashes the police computer, freezing their screens with a design of blue fish, and the same blue fish appears on the statue of Jefferson Davis, which a graffiti artist has turned into a black basketball player and a gang called the Pikes claim it is their symbol, which also has links to the robberies.
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, fourteen miles off the coast of Virginia in the 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 wit's end as they try to protect the public from the politician's 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.
Captain Chase Series
On the eve of a top secret space mission, Captain Calli Chase detects a tripped alarm in the tunnels deep below a NASA research center. A NASA pilot, quantum physicist, and cybercrime investigator, Calli knows that a looming blizzard and government shutdown could provide the perfect cover for sabotage, with deadly consequences.
As it turns out, the danger is worse than she thought. A spatter of dried blood, a missing security badge, a suspicious suicide—a series of disturbing clues point to Calli’s twin sister, Carme, who’s been MIA for days.
Desperate to halt the countdown to disaster and to clear her sister’s name, Captain Chase digs deep into her vast cyber security knowledge and her painful past, probing for answers to her twin’s erratic conduct. As time is running out, she realizes that failure means catastrophe—not just for the space program but for the safety of the whole nation.
In the aftermath of a NASA rocket launch gone terribly wrong, Captain Calli Chase comes face-to-face with her missing twin sister—as well as the startling truth of who they really are. Now, a top secret program put in motion years ago has spun out of control, and only Calli can redirect its course.
Aided by cutting-edge technologies, the NASA investigator and scientist turned Space Force pilot sets out on a frantic search for the missing link between the sabotaged rocket launch and her predetermined destiny…a search that someone else seems very interested in stopping.
From NASA to the Chase family farm, to the White House to distant orbits of space, Calli plays a high-stakes game of hide-and-seek with a cunning and ruthless adversary. One wrong move will unleash cataclysmic consequences reaching far beyond the boundaries of Earth.
Ruth Bell Graham is known as the wife of evangelist Billy Graham. It was Ruth who influenced Billy, as his most trusted life-partner. In Ruth, a Portrait, we meet this fascinating and remarkable woman. Brimming with anecdotes, this is a breathtaking journey, with stops at many of this century's epoch-making events.
The childhood years of the future Mrs. Billy Graham were spent light-years away--in the China of the 1920s and 1930s. The daughter of medical missionaries, she and her family were caught in a crucible of unspeakable hardship; in addition to pestilence and plague, there was the unstable political and military turmoil surrounding the Nationalist government, the Communists, and the Japanese invaders. These hazardous realities shaped Ruth Bell and her family, a family inured to difficulties, but buoyed up by their deep belief in God's abiding will.
Virtually raised by the Grahams, the author is a repository of Ruth Bell Graham's stories and has seen firsthand the spirit of this courageous woman. Patricia Cornwell not only gives readers a full, rounded, and intimate portrait of Ruth Bell Graham, but also insight into the life of the Graham family and particularly Billy Graham.
The millions of fans who read Patricia Cornwell's bestsellers know that her popular character, Kay Scarpetta, loves to unwind in the kitchen. Book after book finds her tapping into her Italian heritage to create delicious meals for herself and her friends.Brimming with full-color photographs and inspired by dozens of food scenes in Kay's kitchen and favorite restaurants, Food to Die For is a cookbook tailor-made for Scarpetta fans. Among the criminally good recipes:
* Miami-Style Chili with Beer (All That Remains)
* Grilled Grouper with Butter and Key Lime Juice (Cruel and Unusual)
* Jack Daniel's Chocolate Pecan Pie (The Body Farm)
Using the firsthand expertise she has gained through writing the bestselling Dr Kay Scarpetta novels, Patricia Cornwell has used the demanding methods of modern forensic investigation to re-examine the contemporaneous evidence in the Jack the Ripper murders.
These include state-of-the-art DNA testing on various materials, computer enhancement of watermarks and expert examinations of hand-writing, paper, inks and other relics. She has also used her knowledge of profiling on the possible suspects, as well as consulting experts in the field.
On presenting her conclusions to a very senior Metropolitan Police officer she learned that had the investigators of the time been presented with the facts she has unearthed her suspect would definitely have been arrested and would probably have faced trial.
In 2001, #1 New York Times bestselling crime novelist Patricia Cornwell was pulled into a real-life investigation of her own—the long-unsolved and deeply unsettling “Jack the Ripper” murders that mesmerized London in the late 1800s.
Applying modern science and forensic techniques to a century-old crime, Cornwell’s research led to the publication of Portrait of a Killer, in which she identified the renowned British painter Walter Sickert as the Ripper.
The book became a #1 bestseller but also embroiled Cornwell in controversy as Ripperologists dismissed her claims and her credibility. But for Cornwell, the book was only the beginning. For more than a decade, Cornwell has devoted countless hours and invested millions in her pursuit of new evidence against Sickert.
Now, twelve years later, Cornwell revisits the most notorious unsolved crime in history—determined to solve the mystery once and for all.
Vain and charismatic Walter Sickert made a name for himself as a painter in Victorian London. But the ghoulish nature of his art—as well as extensive evidence—points to another name, one that’s left its bloody mark on the pages of history: Jack the Ripper. Cornwell has collected never-before-seen archival material—including a rare mortuary photo, personal correspondence and a will with a mysterious autopsy clause—and applied cutting-edge forensic science to open an old crime to new scrutiny.
Bestselling novelist Patricia Cornwell imagines an extraordinary and beautiful land with all the appeal of a Garden of Eden in her first book for children. In a compelling fable, she explores the temptations and pitfalls that accompany freedom and choice in all our lives.Jarrod lives far away in a land where children climb trees and soar without fear of falling, and sunlight keeps out dark shadows.
As happy as Jarrod is living with his mother and his sister, he is also curious and daring. He wonders about the mysterious pond, the one place his mother wants him to stay away from. How deep is it? Why can't he go into the water? Why is his mother so afraid for him?
Winston Garano Series
Massachusetts state investigator Win Garano is called home from Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is completing a course at the National Forensic Academy. His boss, the district attorney, attractive but hard-charging, is planning to run for governor, and as a showcase she's planning to use a new crime initiative called At Risk—its motto: “Any crime, any time.” In particular, she's been looking for a way to employ cutting-edge DNA technology, and she thinks she’s found the perfect subject in an unsolved twenty-year-old murder in Tennessee. If her office solves the case, it ought to make them all look pretty good, right?
Win isn't so sure—not sure about anything to do with this woman, really—but before he can open his mouth, a shocking piece of violence intervenes, an act that shakes up both their lives and the lives of everyone around them. It's not a random event. Is it personal? Is it professional? Whatever it is, the implications are very, very bad indeed...and they're about to get much worse.
Director: Tom McLoughlin
Cast: Andie MacDowell, Daniel Sunjata, Diahann Carroll, Edsson Morales
DA Monique Lamont has a special job for Massachusetts state investigator Win Garano. As part of a new public relations campaign about the dangers of declining neighborhoods, Lamont is sending Win to Watertown to come up with a “drama,” and she thinks she knows just the case that will serve.
Garano is skeptical because he knows that Watertown is also the home base for a loose association of municipal police departments called the FRONT, set up so they aren't dependent on the state—much to Lamont's anger.
Win senses a much deeper agenda—but has no idea just how deep it goes. In the days that follow, he'll find Lamont's task. and the places it leads him, will resemble a house of mirrors—everywhere he turns, he's not quite sure if what he's seeing is true.
Director: Tom McLoughlin
Cast: Andie MacDowell, Daniel Sunjata, Ashley Williams, Joe Grifasi, Dane DeHaan, Diahann Carroll, Zak Santiago, Patricia Cornwell
Kay Scarpetta Series
A serial killer is on the loose in Richmond, Virginia. Three women have died, brutalised and strangled in their own bedroom. 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 2.33 am, 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…
A reclusive writer is dead. And her final manuscript has disappeared ...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 investigation 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.
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…
The fingerprints say the murderer is the man who's just been executed . . .
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…
Black Mountain, North Carolina: a sleepy little town where the local police deal with one homicide 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 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…
Christmas had never been a particularly good time for Dr Kay Scarpetta. Although a holiday for most, it 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.
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.
New Year's Eve and the final murder scene of Virginia's bloodiest year takes Scarpetta thirty feet below the Elizabeth River's icy surface. A 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?
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 water that swirled over Ted Eddings.
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 five 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. Ghoulish, 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.
The devastating fire tore through the horse farm, destroying everything it touched. Picking through the wreckage, Dr. Kay Scarpetta uncovers human remains—the work of an audacious and wily killer who uses fire to mask his brutal murders.
And when Scarpetta learns that her old nemesis, Carrie Grethen, has escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane and is somehow involved, the investigation becomes personal.
Tragedy strikes close to home. And Scarpetta must match Grethen’s every move with one of her own to douse the inferno of evil that threatens everyone around her...
When Dr Kay Scarpetta isn't involved with solving crimes, she is concocting delicious dishes in her kitchen, and in SCARPETTA'S WINTER TABLE Patricia Cornwell takes her readers behind the scenes for intimate glimpses of her three main characters - Scarpetta, her niece, Lucy, and Pete Marino as they come together to celebrate the week between Boxing Day 'the biggest letdown day of the year' and New Year's Eve.
Scarpetta creates her special pizza, Marino concocts his 'cause of death eggnog' and Lucy supplies her colleagues from the ATF with a very special breakfast.
This is a present from Cornwell to her readers (and she is donating her royalties to her favourite children's charity) which gives a special insight into her best-known characters.
Remains were all that was left of the stowaway. He arrived in Richmond’s Deep Water Terminal—the ghastly cargo of a ship from Belgium. The decomposed body gives Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta no clues to its identity—or the cause of death. But an odd tattoo soon leads her on an international search to Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon, France—and towards a confrontation with one of the most savage killers of her career...
Physically and psychologically bruised by her encounter with the killer Chandonne, Dr Kay Scarpetta has to leave her home in the hands of the police team investigating the attack. She finds shelter with an old friend, Anna Zenner, but it is not the haven of security she needs when she discovers that Anna has been sub-poenaed to appear before a Grand Jury which is investigating Scarpetta for murder. Kay knows she is being framed and she also knows she can trust no-one.
Meanwhile it appears that Chandonne killed a woman in New York before his murderous spree in Virginia, but when Scarpetta looks more closely into that case with the NY prosecutor Jaime Berger, proof of his guilt is far from certain - in fact she begins to believe that he may not be the perpetrator of any of the crimes he is accused of. As she follows the forensic trail to the real killer she gradually realizes that someone has been spinning a web for years with the aim of entrapping her. Who is it, and why are they so desperate to be rid of her?
Settling into her new life as a private forensic consultant, Kay Scarpetta agrees to investigate a cold case in Louisiana—the baffling eight-year-old murder of a woman with a history of blackouts and violent outbursts.
Then she receives news that chills her to the core: Jean-Baptiste Chandonne—the vicious and unrepentant Wolfman who pursued her to her very doorstep—has asked to see her. From his cell on death row, he demands an audience with the legendary Dr. Scarpetta.
With her friends and family by her side, Scarpetta tries to guess what sort of endgame this madman has in mind—how, if at all, it’s related to the Louisiana case—and then confronts the shock of her life: a blow that will force her to question the loyalty and trust of all she holds dear...
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 first 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…
Florida is full of human predators, and they all give Dr Kay Scarpetta the opportunity and the means to do what she does best - persuading the dead to speak to her. And in Boston, Benton Wesley is working on a secret case involving convicted killers. It is a project which gives Scarpetta deep disquiet, as does the behaviour of her niece, Lucy, who is spending too much time in cheap bars looking for casual pick-ups. The Academy is called when a woman's body is found in Boston. 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, called in by a concerned neighbour, 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 clear that someone is tracking their every move.
Fresh from her bruising battle with a psychopath in Florida, Scarpetta decides it's time for a change of pace. Moving to the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina, she opens a unique private forensic pathology practice, one in which she and her colleagues offer expert crime scene investigation and autopsies to communities lacking local access to competent death investigation and modern technology. It seems like an ideal situation, until the murders and other violent deaths begin.
A woman is ritualistically murdered in her multi-million-dollar beach home. The body of an abused young boy is found dumped in a desolate marsh. A sixteen-year-old tennis star is found nude and mutilated near Piazza Navona in Rome.
Scarpetta has dealt with many brutal and unusual crimes before, but never a string of them as baffling, or as terrifying, as the ones before her now. Before she is through, that book of the dead will contain many names - and the pen may be poised to write her own.
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 Hospitalas 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 talkaand 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 cityaan odyssey that will take them at once to places they never knew, and much, much too close to home.
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, culminating in an ominous package—possibly a bomb—showing up at the front desk of the apartment building where she and her husband, Benton, live. 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 millionaire with whom her niece, Lucy, seems to have shared a secret past.
Kay Scarpetta has been training at the Dover Port Mortuary, mastering the art of 'virtual autopsy' - a groundbreaking procedure that could soon revolutionise forensic science. And it is not too long before these new skills urgently need to be put into practice. A young man drops dead, apparently from a heart condition, eerily close to Scarpetta's home. But when his body is examined the next morning, there are stunning indications that he may have been alive when he was zipped inside a pouch and locked in the cooler.
When the revolutionary 3D radiology scans reveal more shocking details about internal injuries unlike any Scarpetta has ever seen, she realizes that this is a case of murder - and that she is fighting a cunning and uniquely cruel enemy. Now it is a race against time to discover who and why before more people die. But that time is running out…
On her quest to find out exactly what happened to her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding, murdered six months before, Scarpetta drives to the Georgia Prison for Women to meet a convicted sex offender and the mother of a vicious and diabolically brilliant killer. Against the advice of her FBI criminal intelligence agent husband, Benton Wesley, Scarpetta is determined to hear this woman out.
Scarpetta has both personal and professional reasons to learn more about a string of grisly killings: the murder of a Savannah family years earlier, a young woman on death row, and then other inexplicable deaths that begin to occur at a breathtaking pace. Driven by inner forces, 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.
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.
After working on one of the worst mass killings in US history, Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta returns home to recover, but an unsettling call drives her straight back to work.
The body of a young woman has been discovered inside the sheltered gates of MIT, draped in an unusual cloth and posed in a way that is too deliberate to be the killer's first strike. A preliminary examination reveals that the body is covered in a fine dust that under ultra-violet light fluoresces blood-red, emerald-green and sapphire-blue, and physical evidence links this to another series of disturbing homicides in Washington, DC.
As she pieces together the fragments of evidence, Scarpetta discovers that the cases connect, yet also seem to conflict, drawing herself and her team deeper into the dark world of designer drugs, drone technology, organised crime, and shocking corruption at the highest level.
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.
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.
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.
On a late summer evening in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her investigative partner, Pete Marino, respond to a call about a dead bicyclist near the Kennedy School of Government. It appears that a young woman has been attacked with almost superhuman force.
Even before Scarpetta’s headquarters has been officially notified about the case, Marino and Scarpetta’s FBI agent husband, Benton Wesley, receive suspicious calls, allegedly from someone at Interpol. But it makes no sense. Why would the elite international police agency know about the case or be interested? It soon becomes apparent that an onslaught of harassment might be the work of an anonymous cyberbully named Tailend Charlie, who has been sending cryptic communications to Scarpetta for over a week.
Even Lucy, her brilliant tech-savvy niece, can’t trace who it is or how this person could have access to intimate information. When a second death shocks Scarpetta to her core, it becomes apparent she and those close to her are confronted with something far bigger and more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has returned to Virginia as the chief medical examiner. Finding herself the new girl in town once again after being away for many years, she’s inherited an overbearing secretary and a legacy of neglect and possible corruption.
She and her husband Benton Wesley, now a forensic psychologist with the U.S. Secret Service, have relocated to Old Town Alexandria where she’s headquartered five miles from the Pentagon in a post-pandemic world that’s been torn by civil and political unrest. Just weeks on the job, she’s called to a scene by railroad tracks where a woman’s body has been shockingly displayed, her throat cut down to the spine, and as Scarpetta begins to follow the trail, it leads unnervingly close to her own historic neighborhood.
At the same time, a catastrophe occurs in a top secret private laboratory in outer space, and at least two scientists aboard are found dead. Appointed to the highly classified Doomsday Commission that specializes in sensitive national security cases, Scarpetta is summoned to the White House Situation Room and tasked with finding out what happened. But even as she works the first crime scene in space remotely, an apparent serial killer strikes again. And this time, Scarpetta could be in greater danger than ever before.