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The Body Farm Hardcover – September 12, 1994

4.2 out of 5 stars 322 customer reviews
Book 5 of 24 in the Kay Scarpetta Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Following the disappointing Cruel and Unusual (Scribner, 1993), one wondered whether Cornwell was getting bored with her popular Kay Scarpetta series. After all, that novel featured a tired, confused plot and cardboard characters. But, happily, Cornwell is back at the top of her form here. Sure, there are still the red herrings and the plot contrivances, but what makes The Body Farm stand out is the deeper characterizations, especially in the depiction of Scarpetta's relationship with her troubled niece, Lucy. "It seems this is all about people loving people who don't love them back," says Scarpetta, referring to the murder of an 11-year-old girl, which she is investigating as an FBI consultant. But this is also the novel's haunting theme: homicide detective Pete Morino, jealous of Scarpetta's affair with FBI Unit Chief Benton Wesley, becomes involved with the dead girl's mother; Lucy, in love with a calculating fellow FBI student, is accused of violating agency security. Emotionally satisfying reading.
--Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Cornwell's name on the cover of a book virtually guarantees both instant best-seller status and enthusiastic raves from reviewers and readers alike. Her latest story is no exception, as popular heroine Dr. Kay Scarpetta is called in to help investigate the brutal slaying of an 11-year-old girl. Scarpetta believes the child may have been the victim of Temple Gault, a macabre, demented serial killer who remains at large despite Scarpetta's determined efforts to track him down. It turns out that Scarpetta is at least partly right about Gault, but the child's death is more complicated and horrifying than even the I can't be surprised anymore Scarpetta can imagine. Cornwell's plot is visceral, graphic, and frightening in a way that's vaguely reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs. Her writing is masterful, and she provides evocative backgrounds, provocative characters, and enough ghoulish specifics about autopsies and dead bodies to induce weeks of nightmares. Scarpetta, as usual, is a tenacious, principled investigator who's the one voice of reason in a story fraught with bizarre unreason. This deserves a place in every mystery collection. Emily Melton

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons; First Edition edition (September 12, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684195976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684195971
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (322 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio Cassette
I was going on the road for a six hour round trip and in search of the 2nd installment from Stephen King's Dark Tower series on audio book from my local library. I had just finished Patricia Cornwell's Post Mortem in paper back and was starting to become a fast friend of Dr Kay Scarpetta. So when I couldn't get Stephen King, I tried The Body Farm audio book and .... WOW I was hooked. The narrator's voice was very compelling...the story was riveting...and I found myself driving around the block in my car to finish a chapter. I am now trying to catch up with the other Patricia Cornwell books...and I will list this one at the top of my recommended reading list. For me, who frequents the library so that I won't go broke buying the two to three books I read a week.. I WILL buy this book for my personal collection. Patricia Cornwell has a great style, great details, characters that you will love to read about, and careful details of the people and places in the geographical areas she writes about. I am from Tennessee..and the Southern references ring true to me.
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By A Customer on June 27, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've read many of Patricia Cornwell's novels and enjoyed them all. It's true that I pegged the killer in this one early on, but it was still an enjoyable read. What I like about these novels, unlike Dean Koontz's, is that we have the same protagonist and therefore can easily identify with her. Unlike other reviewers whose comments are printed here, I do want to know about the personal lives of Lucy, Marino, Benton, etc. This is part of Kay's world. If you want just the facts, watch Dragnet. And if you're going to dis Ms. Cornwell, at least spell her name right!!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Body Farm is my first Patricia Cornwell read. It was recomended to me by a person who works in a bookstore. He said it was not absolutely necessary to read them "In order". (Note Postmortem is the first in the "series") Our antagonist is Dr. Kay Scarpetta, who is the chief Medical examiner for Virginia. She is also a lawyer and a consultant for the FBI. This story, that centers around the murder of a young girl leads us in many directions, and gives us the chance to follow many leads. The book is littered with all sorts of fascinating behind the scenes forensic activity. So if your into that sort of thing, such as analyzing photos, evidence samples, and the study of the time of death you'll enjoy a lot of the detail that goes into the development of the investigation. This book also enables to experience many of Dr. Scarpetta's relationships. We are able to see her interact with her niece Lucy, an FBI "intern", Benton Wesley a FBI collegue and romantic interest, and Pete Marino a detective from Virginia. These are all charcters that appear to be present in many of her stories. With out giving too much a way, the story uunfolds rather similarly to an onion, the way you would peel back layer upon layer to discover well in this case "who done it". The story does not drag at all, even with all the technical mumbo jumbo which was even easy for a lay-man to understand, and is filled with lot's of "page turning" suspense. Let me say, I enjoyed it so much so that I immediately picked up "Unnatural Exposure" and plowed through that one too.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
As an alum of the same college that Cornwell attended, I have been interested in her books and have found them entertaining and well written. The Body Farm, however, was a disappointment! I immediately figured out who the murderer was, and I feel that Cornwell left a lot of lose ends. She rushed to the ending of the story without giving her reader follow-up on Marino, Gault, Carrie Grethan, and her relationship with Wesley. Perhaps she is trying to peak our interest for her next Scarpetta novel, but she left out too much. I respect the research that Cornwell puts into her novels, but she entitled this book The Body Farm while only giving the Body Farm in Tennessee marginal emphasis. The evidence that Scarpetta brings away from there (i.e. the quarter marking) is certainly not the key piece of evidence in her case against the actual murderer. Cornwell had ideas for a good plot, but she never pulled it all together to make this a fascinating murder mystery.
Oh, one more thought, does Scarpetta have any faults at all, besides her screwed up family and relationships with men? She eats like a bird, cooks magnificently, jogs every day no matter how much sleep she has gotten (and she doesn't need much), and has every degree in the book. I might keep reading these Scarpetta novels, but, Patricia, make her a little more human!! Let her indulge in a big piece of chocolate cake or greasy french fries every now and then!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
For reasons unknown to even myself, I've been reading this series completely out of order. This is the fifth book in the series of fifteen (to date), and the one with the most forensics out of the ones that I have read.

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 (1996)
Point of Origin (1998)
Black Notice (1999)
The Last Precinct (2000)
Blow Fly (2003)
Trace (2004)
Predator (2005)
Book of the Dead (2007)

The main story is about the murder of an eleven year old girl in North Carolina, where the methods used and evidence found are similar to murders committed by a known serial killer. To complicate matters, the agent investigating the matter is discovered dead under strange and unusual circumstances and some incriminating evidence is found in his home.

In a sub-plot, Scarpetta's niece Lucy is under investigation for a possible security breach, and a family crisis follows soon after. Last, and certainly least, romance is in bloom for all the main characters, not always with the desired results.

If you ignore the sub-plots, affairs and unlikely romantic scenarios, the rest of the book gets down to the business of finding the girl's killer, but it takes an experiment at the Body Farm to come to the chilling conclusion.
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