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Body of Evidence (Kay Scarpetta) Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1999

263 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This second commanding thriller by the Edgar Award-winning author of Postmortem and featuring forensic sleuth Dr. Kay Scarpetta was a Mystery Guild main selection as well as a Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternate in cloth. $250,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Kay Scarpetta, chief medical examiner of Virginia and heroine of Postmortem , gets involved in the case of a brutal stabbing death in Richmond of romance writer Beryl Madison. Now Madison's greedy lawyer accuses Scarpetta of losing his client's latest manuscript, an autobiographical expose of Beryl's early life as protege of a legendary novelist. As more deaths occur and the killer closes in on her, Kay suffers palpitations over the sudden and devious reappearance of long-lost lover Mark but still finds time to provide forensic details. Despite its foregone conclusion, a swift-moving, thrilling, and provocative second novel.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Kay Scarpetta
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket; Reissue edition (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671038567
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671038564
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.1 x 4.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,999,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In 1990, Patricia Cornwell sold her first novel, Postmortem, while working at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. An auspicious debut, it went on to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards as well as the French Prix du Roman d'Aventure prize - the first book ever to claim all these distinctions in a single year.

Today, Cornwell's novels and now iconic characters, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, her niece Lucy and fellow investigator Pete Marino, are known all over the world. Fox 2000 is actively developing a feature film about Kay Scarpetta. Beyond the Scarpetta series, Patricia has written a definitive account of Jack the Ripper's identity, cookbooks, a children's book, a biography of Ruth Graham, and two other fiction series based on the characters Win Garano and Andy Brazil.

Cornwell was born in Miami, grew up in Montreat, North Carolina, and now lives and works in Boston.

Visit the author's website at:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 11, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Johnson on June 5, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By - Kasia S. VINE VOICE on June 10, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By clifford on May 15, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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