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on October 11, 1999
The Kay Scarpetta series is best read in chronological sequence, as each new novel builds on developments from the previous ones, and knowledge of this history is to some degree assumed. Thus, if you're going to read one of the series, this is the one.
Some reviewers here criticize the lack of non-stop action. To the contrary, I think the style is highly effective. Cornwell indulges in her well-developed, diverse characters with introspection and dialog. Furthermore, investigations are not a linear progression -- everything isn't always wrapped up in a tidy little package, every piece of evidence isn't used, and every fact isn't explained. But that's life.
The series has also been criticized for being a bit "nerdy". But that's appropriate -- it's strength. The use of evidence and the examination of the crime scene reminds me of my favorite crime author, Canon Doyle. The magnifying glass is replaced by a substantially more expensive apparatus, but the attention paid to analytic methods and thinking is quite enjoyable.
The combination of rich character development and intellectual analysis makes this a really enjoyable book, and worthwhile series. I really highly recommend it. The only reason I don't give it 5 stars is I reserve that for the highest tier of fiction, and I'm not sure this is quite there. But it's certainly some of the best work I've read in a long time.
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on June 5, 2006
After reading the first book in the series, I felt good enough to want to read the second book sooner rather than later. Book two is fashioned out of some of the basic framework as the first but with enough changes to the facade that it really doesn't detract too much from the story.

Most of the same characters are back for this installment with some new players thrown in. The forensics play along and provide physical clues to go along with the psychological clues. Like the first book, we are given plenty of clues to figure out the twist and don't feel like we've been cheated when it is revealed. As with the first book, I like that we only see what Kay sees and nothing more or less.

Kay Scarpetta, we learn, will always be very *involved* with her work and that will always play havoc with her personal life. Even this early in the series, that thread is obvious. Fortunately, even though this running thread is becoming concrete and will remain in future books, it doesn't overwhelm the main story.

The plot of this one is a little more convoluted than the first. There are several interweaving plots that connect or seem to connect and they provide us with quite a bit of depth in the mystery. What starts out fairly straightforward quickly becomes messy and confusing (on purpose) but comes together fairly nicely at the end.

For a second novel, this one does well and doesn't fall into many of the traps and pitfalls that are out there and because of that, I'll be reading the third.
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VINE VOICEon June 10, 2004
This book, really went into nice character development. By the middle of it, I felt like Beryl Madison, the first victim, was a real person, and I too wanted to know how she died, why and who did it.
I had a very hard time putting it down, when it was 4am, its a page turner. The evidence and clues are amazing, and they really make u think.
Overall, an excellnt medical thriller mystery....And despite what anyone says, I like Scarpetta, shes not harsh or feministic. She's just perfect.
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on May 15, 2005
This is not Patricia Cornwell's best book. I have read two others by her, a little out of order, `Body Farm,' which is a magnificent mystery/thriller achievement and `Postmortem' was a grand opening to what is turning out to be a wholly engrossing series I hope. But `Body of Evidence' felt like an unsure sophomore effort on the part of Cornwell. Not that it was bad, I have no real glaring complaints about this book, but on the other hand the plot was a bit clunky. I think that if you do read the entire series, which is my plan, this is an adequate book that won't leave you terribly disappointed. It just felt a little unnecessary, as if you were renting the 14th James Bond flick. The book was fun, but predictable and pretty much the same as its predecessor. All of that aside, having started in the middle of the series with `Body Farm', I know in advance that Scarpetta will undergo a series of personal upheavals that I will enjoy encountering I am sure as the novels progress.

My main complaint here (and this could be a spoiler) is that the ending is almost identical to `Postmortem'. Not only that, but it was a fair stretch to pull Scarpetta in as the victim here. I just did not buy it. Also, as she travels around, the descriptions of place were a little underwhelming as others have pointed out. I felt like the first half of the book; Cornwell was attempting to imitate some of Agatha Christie's work here. The second half of the book became a mish mash of styles that set up a wholly new genre; only it was done here unclearly and ultimately unsatisfactorily.

If you like Cornwells books, I would recommend two other authors that don't go way over the top. Denis Lehane, who wrote `Mystic River,' (perhaps the best thriller I have ever come across) also wrote a series of five books that were fun to read about a pair of detectives in Boston. Harlan Coben wrote a series of books that he is well known for (Myron Bolitar) but they are just ok. If you check out Coben's stand alone, more recent novels you will be in for a treat.
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on August 7, 2015
BODY of EVIDENCE: Scarpetta2 (Kay Scarpetta series) by Patricia Cornwell. This being my first Cornwell novel, I was very much looking forward to the read. I must say I was disappointed. The story was unexciting and slow-paced. The book definitely won't keep you up late at night. Early on the storyteller broadcasts the conclusion. The redundancy of narration and dialogue, the stretching of scenarios and the lengthy chapters contributed to my wandering off the topic as I read. On the plus side Cornwell did a nice job of character development. I like the character of Kay Scarpetta but the author needs to provide a more exciting life for this chief medical examiner for Virginia.
Based on the above I cannot give a higher rating than a 3.
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on December 16, 2014
Another excellent novel by Patricia Cornwall featuring the infamous Dr. Kay Scarpetta. A well-written thriller that was impossible to put down. Hoping for a quiet evening at home and a chance to relax after a very busy day at work, Dr. Kay Scarpetta knew the chances of that was not going to happen. Receiving a phone call from Homicide det. Pete Marino, she wastes no time and tells him she will meet him at the crime scene asap. Upon arriving, he explains the circumstances to her. Novelist, Beryl Madison has been found brutally stabbed to death in her home. Even more of a mystery is the sinister way in which it entailed. Apparently, she was covinced she was being stalked by someone and she was terrified for her life. Hiding out in Key West, Fla. for several months, she decides to return to Richmond only to become violently murdered. The evidence is also showing that Beryl let the killer in. Did she know him? Through the investigation, Kay and Marino learn that millionaire and well-known author, Carey Harper and Beryl Madison lived together at one time and not only that, they didn't part on good terms either. When Carey and his sister are found murdered in their home, Kay realizes they are dealing with someone highly intelligent and very cunning. Could this be a serial killer? Are they related in anyway? At least, this is what's going through her mind when out of the blue, she starts getting strange phone calls left on her answering machine and someone has the audacity to put Carey Harper's medallion around the door knob of her front door. Is she now being stalked by the killer? Now caught in the middle of all these muders, her personal life is taking a tumble also. When seeking out the help and assistance of an old friend, F.B.I. profiler Benton Wesley, the last person Kay expected to see was her old flame and lost love, Mark James. She learned that he left his law office and was a federal agent for some time under the supervision of Benton's. However, Kay knew that instead of getting angry, she had to put her feelings aside, they had put their heads together, come up with a plan and catch a cunning, devious, motivated, cold-hearted killer. With the three of them and Det. Pete Marino playing cat and mouse, it will soon be discovered that the risks will be much higher than either one of them expected and a very nerve-racking ordeal it will turn out to be after all............loved it...couldn't put it down....a great thriller with spine chilling moments.....enjoy!....thank you♡♡
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on December 14, 2015
This is another GREAT NOVEL by Patricia Cornwell - One that you will want to keep so you will not need to purchase again! I know this, because after a while you will want to read this one again.

However, do not allow yourself to get a mind-set that all People who have special needs, are deranged killers. And, I do NOT feel that is what Patricia Cornwell is suggesting. However, many times the individuals with special needs have records that are so well-protected it may seem impossible to see them even under emergency situations. Please take note on the defensive behavior of the facility's Principal. He is very reluctant to work with Police Officials, even though he may have had an idea of who they were looking for in this case. For more information go to for Federal Guidelines.
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on October 5, 2015
I've read most of the Scarpetta books and have enjoyed the first 6 or 7 the most. The story lines are complex and the details into the life of a medical examiner fascinated me. I love Marino because he is a breath of fresh air. The plot and the content of how evidenc is uncovered from policework and the analysis of the dead is really compelling. I'd suggst doing the "read inside" preview to see if it's your kind of book. I skim over the grizzly parts-but I'm kind of a wimp.My Husband Ran Off with the Nanny and God Do I Miss Her
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on April 11, 2015
I started this series after reading the Temperance Brennan books by Reichs. They seemed to be similar and were. In the beginning. After several of them, her aging and her niece and love life and stories started to go south for me so I gave up after I'm not sure how many. Check for yourself but I think the best ones are the beginnings.
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on May 20, 2006
In Body of Evidence - the second of the series, a young female writer named Berryl Madison is stabbed to death in her own home, & nearly decapitated. It appears that she was being stalked before she died. She was recieving strange, threatening phone calls a few times a month prior to her death. Then when her stalker scratched a heart into the side of her car - that was the last straw. Terrified, Berryl fleed to Key West, where she stayed for a while before she decided that she had to go home. But on the night of her return; she inexplicably lets her killer into her home, switching off the burglar alarm, & leaving her gun. did Berryl know her killer? Was this the same person who was stalking her? Dr Kay Scarpetta, the Medical Examiner of Virginia, begins to piece this together.

The plot of this book is exellent. Everything seems to fit together as you read through it. At first everything is so unclear - why would she let him in?! But as Kay gathers more seemingly unrelated information, you get a better idea of what's going on. Once you're almost finished the book, you understand most of it. But there is still one mystery left. Who is the killer, & how did he get Berryl to let him in without causing suspision? Kay has also been recieving threating, obscene phone calls of late. She does the same as Berryl, packing her bags & heading off to Key West. When she returns, it is with the manuscript for Berryls autobiography, which she was working on when she died. But investigators had been unable to find it until now. When Kay arrives home, & soon after, goes to answer her door, she suddenly relises exactly what happened to Berryl Madison. But she has to live to tell the tale.

The answer to that 'Why did she let him in' question is very interesting, creative. It'll leave you thinking 'oooooh!'. I like the earlier novels in the series because the characters are less complex, & the story is much more about the murders than it is about Kay & the other main characters. In my opinion, this is just as good as the first novel, Postmortem. But if you havent read that yet - I suggest you read it before you go on to this one.

Not everyone will enjoy this book or the series as much as me, but I would recommend this book to anyone. I hope this review was helpful.
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