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Unnatural Exposure Hardcover – July 14, 1997

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1st edition (July 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399142851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399142857
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.3 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (322 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Virginia Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta has a bloody puzzle on her hands: five headless, limbless cadavers in Ireland, plus four similar victims in a landfill back home. Is a serial butcher loose in Virginia? That's what the panicked public thinks, thanks to a local TV reporter who got the leaked news from her boyfriend, Scarpetta's vile rival, Investigator Percy Ring. But the butchered bodies are so many red herrings intended to throw idiots like Ring off the track. Instead of a run-of-the-mill serial killer, we're dealing with a shadowy figure who has plans involving mutant smallpox, mass murder, and messing with Scarpetta's mind by e-mailing her gory photos of the murder scenes, along with cryptic AOL chat-room messages. The coolest innovation: Scarpetta's gorgeous genius niece, Lucy, equips her with a DataGlove and a VPL Eyephone, and she takes a creepy virtual tour of the e-mailed crime scene.

Unnatural Exposure boasts brisk storytelling, crackling dialogue, evocative prose about forensic-science sleuthing, and crisp character sketches, both of familiar characters like Scarpetta's gruff partner Pete Marino and bit players like the landfill employee falsely accused by Ring. Plus, let's face it: serial killers are old hat. Cornwell's most vivid villains are highly plausible backstabbing colleagues like Ring, who plots to destroy Lucy's FBI career by outing her as a lesbian. Some readers object to the rather abrupt ending, but, hey, it's less jarring than Hannibal's, and it's the logical culmination of Cornwell's philosophy about human nature. To illuminate the novel's finale, read Cornwell's remarks on paranoia in her Amazon.com interview. --Tim Appelo

From Library Journal

Kay Scarpetta grapples with a serial killer who contacts her via the Internet in this latest from crime novelist Cornwell, who is involved in some headline-making scandal of her own: In a recent trial, she was named as the former lover of a woman whose husband attempted to murder her in a rage over the affair.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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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: www.patriciacornwell.com

Customer Reviews

It just didn't hold my interest and the ending was way too abrupt.
I've been a huge Patricia Cornwell fan and have read all her Kay Scarpetta novels through Book of the Dead, as well as all of the Andy Brazil series.
Linda Dark Horse
Every time you turn the page you just have to keep reading to find out what will happen next.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 1, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a somewhat interesting, Dr. Kay Scarpetta mystery, replete with its usual attention to forensic detail, as well as a myriad of subplots. Though not her best novel, it still manages to entertain the reader.

Once again, Dr. Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner, finds herself on the hunt for a serial killer, when the body of an elderly, dismembered woman is discovered in a Virginia landfill. Moreover, a mutated, high tech, variant small pox virus appears to be on the loose, and Dr. Scarpetta finds herself receiving taunting emails from the alleged killer, signing as "deadoc". Couple all this with an overly ambitious and unscrupulous law enforcement agent named Percy Ring who arrests an obviously innocent man for the elderly woman's death, and the reader has an intriguing mystery to unravel.

Homicide Detective Pete Marino is pivotol to the success of this book. His relationship and repartee with Dr. Scarpetta contribute to many of the book's highlights, and it is he who gives dimension to the book, as he is simply a wonderful, down to earth character. Dr. Scarpetta's relationship with FBI Agent Wesley Benton is less memorable, as he is on the periphery of the story, for the most part, though in the end he provides closure for the torch Dr. Scarpetta was carrying for her ex-lover, Mark.

The only real fly in the ointment, however, is the continued appearance of Dr. Scarpetta's niece, Lucy, who is an obnoxious character. In the real world, Lucy would not be allowed to hold the position of responsibility that she does in the book, due to her compete immaturity. She is a loose cannon waitng to misfire at any moment. It flies in the face of her professionalism that Dr. Scarpetta seems unable to fathom this, but blood is thicker than water.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Todd P. Last on July 31, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been a fan of Patricia' Cornwell's books for some time, and this one just not up to her usual level of quality.
The book has a wonderfully interesting idea regarding the MO of the killer, but dissapointingly, this idea along with the character of the killer, is not really developed to the extent that you expect from earlier Cornwell novels.
Most of the book revolves around sub-plots of the relationships between the many characters that have become part of Kay Scarpett's life over the series of Novels. Unfortunately this comes at the expense of the story about the villain and the crimes.
My preference is for the earlier, leaner, Kay Scarpetta books that concentrate on the murder mystery, the science of forensics, and the interplay between Marino and Kay.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Cornwall's books and the last two Scarpetta novels have left me disappointed in the finish . When Scarpetta finally lets the reader in on who the germ warfare bad guy is, I had no idea to whom she was referring or when the character had been introduced. The conclusion was disappointing, confusing and gives the reader a sense that Cornwall lost interest in wrapping up the crime/book. From Potters Field ended with the same lackluster, rushed conclusion. In addition to being stilted, the finish seemed a bit preposterous -- without giving the end away, the perpetrator of the crime does not fit the classic psychological profile of someone who would commit such a crime. On a positive note, Cornwall has already set up the plot for her next thriller with an additional crime (albeit one that sounds remarkably like the crime in the recently fabulous competitor's book Deja Dead by Kathy Reich) that goes unsolved in Unnatural Exposure. All in all I give it a B -- entertaining but not compelling.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bill Mac on January 4, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
I listened to Cornwell's earlier Cause of Death and Unnatural Exposure on tape and Unnatural Exposure is better. ... Cornwell has created a first class nail biter that is flawed because of artificially created tensions, some poor characterizations and inconsistent philosophy.
The mystery/thriller works pretty well on that level. The plot follows Cornwell's heroine Kay Scarpetta initially through a serial killer's dismemberings to a possibly contagious disease outbreak. There are twists and turns although the ultimate outcome is no great shock. Unnatural Exposure follows a standard path although most stories of this ilk have a premature solution that turns out to be false. I.e. the wrong person is arrested or found dead. In this one an innocent person is arrested but the reader knows it's a false arrest from the word go. There is also someone found dead but it's pretty obviously not the guilty party. Along the way we get graphic and gory forensic details of autopsies making the novel unsuitable for reading around mealtime.
There are several problems with the novel aside from the mystery. Cornwell's agenda gets in the way sometimes and she has fillers that detract from the story.
Earlier in the story Scarpetta receives pictures via email that are described as gif files. All the pictures I receive are jpgs. Maybe this is an indication that the novel is becoming dated.
I had a problem with some of the artificially created tensions. In particular, I found it offensive that airport security people would be portrayed as boobs for doing their jobs. Scarpetta shows up at the airport with body parts and hazardous materials and the security people and flight attendants are made to look like fools for questioning her the way they do.
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