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Cruel and Unusual: A Kay Scarpetta Novel Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 2005

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Cruel and Unusual: A Kay Scarpetta Novel + All That Remains: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta) + The Body Farm (A Scarpetta Novel)
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Product Details

  • Series: Kay Scarpetta
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Reprint edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416505407
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416505402
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This fourth mystery to feature Virginia Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kay Scarpetta was a 12-week PW bestseller.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-In this fourth Kay Scarpetta mystery, the chief medical examiner for the state of Virginia is once again challenged by gruesome murder and confusing evidence. How could the fingerprints of Ronnie Joe Waddell appear at the scene of a murdered psychic after Waddell was executed in the electric chair? In the midst of many puzzling matters come other difficult issues to confront Kay as she tries to do her job. She becomes the object of hysterical media attention, and finds that she herself might be indicted for the very crimes she is trying to solve. Someone is sabotaging her efforts by hacking into her computer files and leaking information. Exasperated, she calls upon her niece, Lucy, a 17-year-old computer whiz, whom readers will remember from earlier "Scarpetta" novels. Along with FBI agent Benton Wesley and police chum Pete Marino, Lucy helps Kay solve the murders and ferret out the traitor in her office. YAs will enjoy the teen's angst and the exciting twist at the book's end.
Carolyn E. Gecan, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Good story line, characters and follow-through.
I love reading all of her books I have read a few in the past, now I am going back and starting from the beginning and reading in order.
Tammy Brooks
Although readers may agree that everything fits together in the end, they may still be feeling a little confused.
Liz W.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kristen Heiss on September 17, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this fourth installment of the Kay Scarpetta series, we find the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia chasing a most challenging miscreant - a murderer with no pattern to his destruction except the intent to play games with the authorities hunting him. The book is a must-read for those addicted to Cornwell's well-researched suspense novels, since it sets the stage for a showdown in From Potter's Field. But a major plot hole revealed in the first few pages leaves the reader feeling cheated for the remainder of the novel.
We enter the story with Scarpetta recovering from the death of a close friend. While this development certainly bodes well for future plot twists, it leaves the reader frustrated with the current one. The few details of the death surface mostly at the end of the story and while we're told of Scarpetta's devastation, we really don't witness it. Seasoned Cornwell fans are accustomed to these shallow depths in characterization but it nonetheless puts a damper on an otherwise entertaining mystery.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker on November 2, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the worst of the Scarpetta series. which is quite an achievement seeing as all the others are brilliant. My favourites being the claustrophobic "The Body Farm", and the superbly dark "Point of Origin". I have loved all the Scarpetta's, and read them at least twice over, and i still think this is the worst.
The plot was very complicated, and it all seemed a bit of a mess. The characters were nothing special, and i this is the only book in which Cornwell manage to bore me with her normally insightful computer terminology. It's too long, and basically i dont think it has any substance. There is a great potential. The idea for the plot is superb, and could well have been one of the best, but somewhere along the line it all slips. I cant put my finger on it, but i just didnt come away from this with the satisfaction i normally get out of a Kay Scarpetta book.
Nevertheless this is still a necessary book to read if you intend to read the entire series. It is one of the major turning points. The first book to feature Temple Gault, who would later lead to Carrie Grethen, Newton Joyce, and all the other catastrophic events which culminate in the next turning point of "The Last Precint". each one has signalled a new era for Patricia Cornwell, and each one has not been quite as good as the others. But The Last Precint was still much better than this. It is, admittedly, very clever, but far too complicated, and im surprised it got the CWA's gold dagger.
nevertheless, i have given it two stars purely because it is such a major point in Scarpetta's life. You must read it if you intend to read the entire series, but dont expect to enjoy it as much as you do the others.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mark Eremite VINE VOICE on May 3, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dr. Kay Scarpetta is in it up to her neck this time. A death row inmate, Waddle, is executed, but before his body is even cool, murdered corpses start piling up with Waddle's fingerprints found at the scene of the crime. Next thing you know, people are dropping like flies, some of them close to Dr. Kay, and she is publicly implicated in the deaths.

Cornwell has written a workably entertaining mystery here. The plot is engaging and bubbling with intrigue, and the writing isn't hampered by too much extraneous detail or incidental goings-ons. There is a subplot with Kay's niece, Lucy, that I found a tad ingratiating and annoying, but for anyone reading the Scarpetta mysteries in order, it is an understandable and rather necessary bit of character development.

I do, however, object to Cornwell relegating some of the more serious character development to the back story. I'm talking about the sudden death of Kay's long-time love interest, Mark, (and, to a lesser extent, her decision to quit smoking). These are pretty significant events in Kay's life, and to leave them in the background as part of the story dressing seems at odds with an author who wants us to sympathize with her character.

To that end, some of the story ended up either ringing false to me, or just falling flat. For example, there is much made of Kay's financial secrets, which she refers to in connection with embarassment and rage. When the secrets are finally revealed, I found them to be maudlin and a little silly. It baffled me why Kay would take such pains to keep them hidden.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Egger, author of Grave Accusations on April 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I stumbled upon this book quite by accident and thought I'd give it a whirl. I never expected to fall in love with a character and an author quite so quickly! From the first page to the last, it's a can't-put-down book. I love the idea of having a fingerprint from a recently-executed criminal show up at a new crime scene. And I love how they determine throughout the whirling pace of the book how this could be possible and who the real killer is. Great ending, superb characters and dialogue. Cornwell is a mistress of her field and has great credentials -- having worked for a medical investigator -- to boot! Anyone who hasn't read this book should drop everything they're doing and read it.
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