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Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta #1)

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Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the ma Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the madman. But this investigation will test Kay like no other, because it's being sabotaged from within—and someone wants her dead.


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Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the ma Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the madman. But this investigation will test Kay like no other, because it's being sabotaged from within—and someone wants her dead.

30 review for Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta #1)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Loved! gritty and a very entertaining storyline with great characters and also consist of forensic writing/analysis (paperback!)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Karin Slaughter

    This is a really terrific book. I think people forget how things started when they talk about current books by Patricia Cornwell. Back in the beginning, she was doing something no other woman was doing, and she did it really well. So well that she inspired folks like me. I figgered if she could get away with writing the kinds of books I like to read, then I could do it, too. I loves me some Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky, but they weren't into the hard stuff. Cornwell really forged a new trail.

  3. 5 out of 5

    James

    Patricia Cornwell's Postmortem was my first foray into the forensic science crime novel. While I am fully capable of reading detailed descriptions of gore and autopsies without getting sick, I was a tad worried that it would get too technical where I'd lose some of the understanding of the medical aspects. While it happens on occasion, the editors and author have done a great job at finding the perfect level of language to keep the words flowing properly most of the time. Scarpetta is a true hero Patricia Cornwell's Postmortem was my first foray into the forensic science crime novel. While I am fully capable of reading detailed descriptions of gore and autopsies without getting sick, I was a tad worried that it would get too technical where I'd lose some of the understanding of the medical aspects. While it happens on occasion, the editors and author have done a great job at finding the perfect level of language to keep the words flowing properly most of the time. Scarpetta is a true hero -- someone to admire, someone to fear. She will always solve the case even in the most intricate complex ones out there. The style is strong, the descriptions and setting vivid. You feel like you are in the story along side the protagonist. About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Luca Ambrosino

    English (Postmortem) / Italiano «It was raining in Richmond on Friday, June 6»The first case of Kay Scarpetta, the coroner who made the fortune of the American writer Patricia Cornwell, starts in the rain. The population of Richmond is upset about the presence of a serial killer who first rapes his victims, and then he strangles them in their bedrooms. The coroner Scarpetta, who examined the bodies of the killed women, awaits powerless the next victim.A few weeks ago I picked from my bookshelf an English (Postmortem) / Italiano «It was raining in Richmond on Friday, June 6»The first case of Kay Scarpetta, the coroner who made the fortune of the American writer Patricia Cornwell, starts in the rain. The population of Richmond is upset about the presence of a serial killer who first rapes his victims, and then he strangles them in their bedrooms. The coroner Scarpetta, who examined the bodies of the killed women, awaits powerless the next victim.A few weeks ago I picked from my bookshelf an old copy of this novel, that I read in 2000 (I had the reading date on the inside cover). The cover is bright yellow, I remember liking it. Yes, let's read it again. Straightforward narrative, 320 pages of honest and concrete thriller, with a nice suspense. There are no striking twists and turns, but in my opinion the strength of this novel from 1990 is keeping a grip on reality, without flights of fancy that are scarcely digestible if carried out too far to improbable situations. Sometimes the imaginative final revelations typical of modern thrillers badly astonish me. After all... degustibus non est disputandum.In any case, Patricia Cornwell has the virtue of starting the forensic medicine genre. Great opening narrative.Vote: 8 «Venerdì 6 giugno a Richmond pioveva»Inizia sotto la pioggia il primo caso di Kay Scarpetta, il medico legale che ha fatto la fortuna dell'americana Patricia Cornwell. La popolazione di Richmond è sconvolta per la presenza di un killer seriale che dapprima violenta e poi strangola le proprie vittime, all'interno della loro camera da letto. Il medico legale Kay Scarpetta, che ha analizzato i corpi delle donne uccise, attende impotente la prossima vittima.Qualche settimana fa ho pescato dalla mia libreria una vecchia copia di questo romanzo, che lessi nel 2000 (avevo segnato a matita in seconda di copertina la data in cui lo lessi). La copertina è di un giallo sgargiante, ricordo che mi era piaciuto. Ma si, rileggiamolo. Trama lineare, 320 pagine di thriller onesto, concreto e con buona suspense. Non ci sono colpi di scena eclatanti, ma il punto di forza di questo romanzo datato 1990 secondo me è proprio il suo restare ancorato alla realtà, senza quei voli pindarici che risultano poco digeribili se esasperati a soluzioni improbabili. A volte lo "spiegone" finale che eccede in fantasia tipico dei moderni thriller mi lascia basito. De gustibus.In ogni caso, la Cornwell ha il pregio di lanciare il filone del giallo medico-forense. Ottimo esordio.Voto: 8

  5. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    Mysteries have long been recreational reading for me. About every fourth or fifth book, I read is a mystery sandwiched in between literary best sellers and stellar non-fiction. I've been meaning to get around to Patricia Cornwall and had picked up a few of her books at yard sales, but I was waiting until I found the first book in her Kay Scarpetta series before I dove in. Postmortem won numerous awards when it came out in 1990 including the Edgar and the Anthony awards. For the first 100 or so pa Mysteries have long been recreational reading for me. About every fourth or fifth book, I read is a mystery sandwiched in between literary best sellers and stellar non-fiction. I've been meaning to get around to Patricia Cornwall and had picked up a few of her books at yard sales, but I was waiting until I found the first book in her Kay Scarpetta series before I dove in. Postmortem won numerous awards when it came out in 1990 including the Edgar and the Anthony awards. For the first 100 or so pages, I was not overly impressed. As a fan of Kathy Reichs, I felt that Cornwall was not as good but then I realized that Reichs' first book came out 10 years after Cornwall's first Scarpetta book. Put in that historical perspective, I understood that she was the antecedent who set the stage for writers like Reichs. There are other historical aspects of this book that make it fun. For instance there are no cell phones AND the use of the computer was infantile compared to now and Cornwall does a terrific job of employing computers as part of the mystery with a degree of sophistication that was likely unprecedented at the time. Postmortem is definitely a page turner that kept me up late two nights reading. I'll be reading more of Cornwall in part to see her influence on later mystery writers.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tea Jovanović

    Patrišu mi je otkrila krajem 90-ih moja tetka koja živi u Americi i koja je njen vatreni obožavalac... :) Dosta čitalaca je voli ali se to nikad ne bi reklo po prodaji njenih romana... Šteta, moglo bi to i bolje...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Flannery

    I loved the 1990s. There was great television, Pogs, scrunchies, and the Pittsburgh Penguins were amazing at hockey. (obviously Jaromir Jagr's mullet contributed a significant amount to this last part) And although I totally loved playing Seventh Guest, Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego, and the like on our old Macs, I'm happy with the advancements in technology. Okay, moving on, I also love crime novels. When they are set in ye oldey times, I get caught up in the story, seeing how Sherlock could de I loved the 1990s. There was great television, Pogs, scrunchies, and the Pittsburgh Penguins were amazing at hockey. (obviously Jaromir Jagr's mullet contributed a significant amount to this last part) And although I totally loved playing Seventh Guest, Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego, and the like on our old Macs, I'm happy with the advancements in technology. Okay, moving on, I also love crime novels. When they are set in ye oldey times, I get caught up in the story, seeing how Sherlock could deduce his way to victory. Or when they are set in the future, I like seeing Eve Dallas use new-fangled technology to find her man. (Or woman. Or robot!) Even when books are set in current times, or in the past few years, it's great! BUT Postmortem lies in the bottom of awkward valley for me at the moment. I read over and over and over about how "maybe" someone should change their words-only password on a networked computer and how "secure" the network was. Every time I read about dialing in from home to a network that was left in answer mode, I could hear the dial up noise in my head...and how grating is that? (Side note: do kids today even know what a dial-up noise is? I feel old.) I'm sure, nay, positive that I will enjoy the Scarpetta books further down the line as technology catches up but I was frustrated throughout this novel. There was many a dramatic eye roll and "Oh, brother" muttered. The printer paper still had those holey side parts and DNA evidence was new. They spend at least half of the book talking about some glittery substance and I couldn't figure out why they didn't just test it to figure out what it was. (Did I miss something here? Why couldn't they do chemical testing?) In terms of the plot, I was entertained throughout. I wasn't sure whodunit until the big reveal and I suspected, as I'm supposed to, several side characters along the way. Cornwell definitely knows the building blocks to a successful medical crime thriller. It is easy to tell that she comes from the medical side of things and those were definitely my favorite parts of the book--the autopsies, discussions of injuries, etc. The least successful (read: most annoying) sections of the book for me were Kay Scarpetta's interactions with her precocious niece. Evidently her niece is the Doogie Howser of the computer hacking world but without his boyish charm. (and lab coat) The book is entertaining but it didn't do much for me overall. I will keep going in this series though because my dear friend Maja is in love with it and I think it will get better as I get out of the dated technology era. I bet I would really enjoy this if I read it in twenty years! At this point, I'm just going to rehash a few plot points for people who may have forgotten. As I keep following series for years (I'm on number thirtysomething with Eve Dallas!), I realize how much I forget about early books. This will serve as a reminder to me (and you?) about the events of book one in this series. Don't read on if you don't want to absolutely spoil the book! (view spoiler)[ Several women are murdered by someone with a glittery substance on their hands. The perpetrator comes in through open windows. Simultaneously, Kay is near-raped by her psuedo-boyfriend, who'd done something similar to the local newswoman. (whose sister ends up being the last victim) Though she and Marino suspect a few other people first, Kay figures out that the link between all the women is that they'd all called 911 weeks/months before their murder for minor things. The 911 operator is the killer. The glittery substance was borax-based cleanser at his work that he used all the time because he had some random syndrome that made him smell like maple syrup all the time. (seriously) At the end, Kay's niece leaves her window open and the rapist gets in and is going to kill Kay but Marino arrives and shoots him before he can. (hide spoiler)]

  8. 5 out of 5

    Edward Lorn

    Kay Scarpetta books, like Alex Cross books and anything V.C. Andrews wrote, are books I grew up seeing around the house but mostly stayed away from. They were/are names I associate with story-over-prose fiction, the type of popular books that are easily consumable but lack any writing prowess whatsoever. In the case of Patricia Cornwell, I was admittedly wrong. I have no problems with her writing, and her story is sound. No complaints there. Mom always had Cornwell paperbacks strewn about the hou Kay Scarpetta books, like Alex Cross books and anything V.C. Andrews wrote, are books I grew up seeing around the house but mostly stayed away from. They were/are names I associate with story-over-prose fiction, the type of popular books that are easily consumable but lack any writing prowess whatsoever. In the case of Patricia Cornwell, I was admittedly wrong. I have no problems with her writing, and her story is sound. No complaints there. Mom always had Cornwell paperbacks strewn about the house. But, nowadays, she can't remember a single storyline or why she even enjoyed the series. My mother has a tremendous memory, especially for books she's read (the woman can tell me the entire Terry Brooks's Shannara storyline in succinct detail, it's one of the reasons I've never read that series), but she can't wrap her head around why she used to love these books as much as she did. And I kinda understand that. While I did like the writing and the story, there's nothing remarkable here. Just an engaging read that is likely to maintain your interest. But will I remember it in a week... a month... a year? Highly unlikely. Postmortem is an easily-accessible piece of forensic-thriller fiction. Think CSI or any of the lab moments from NCIS and you'll have seen this book coming from across the street. The only parts I stumbled on were some words that were not immediately familiar to me. Several times throughout the book, Cornwell dropped a seventeen-letter- or thirty-two-letter word I had to look up on Google. Your average dictionary does not have these words in it, and Cornwell is inconsistent when explaining what these procedures or pieces of equipment are used for. I cannot image what it was like to read this book back when it first came out. You know, what with the internet and Google not being around. Don't get me wrong, there are more times when Cornwell describes well these processes and the machines that do them than there are times that she doesn't, but a single time where I have to put down my book to research a word is one time too many. And yes, I'm aware that many people are able to gloss right over these words and move the fuck on, but I'm too damn obsessive-compulsive for that shit. However, it does piss me off when I look up a word and find there is an equally-adequate commonly-known word which the author could have used instead of the thesaurus-buckling word with which they chose to stuff their book. That's not the case here, though. Most of the words I didn't know, I didn't know because I don't work in forensic sciences. I can forgive that. One final note before we wrap this up. Although I cannot remember the kid's name, I really dug the niece character. I'm a sucker for precocious kids in fiction, and this intelligent little girl fit the bill perfectly. I hope she's featured in future installments. That being said, Pete Marino stole the show. He was equal parts asshole, good guy, red herring, and comic relief. Truly my favorite part of the book. I have no comments on Kay Scarpetta. For me, she was faceless and unremarkable. In summation: The occasional big technical word aside, this is an easy read. Not sure I'll read every book in the series, but I will continue on. I will probably end up synopsis hopping until I find a storyline that piques my interest. I already have a hardcover of Body Farm I scored for a quarter, so I think I'll read that one next. Any reason why I shouldn't skip books? Lemme know in the comments below. Final Judgment: Not bad, but one good drunk will erase it from your memory.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    If you can handle scary, and can look past gory and profane, Patricia Cornwell's novels are AMAZING. Aside from good old J.K. and Harper Lee, Cornwell is my favorite author. I'm convinced that all the CSI-esque shows were spawned from her books, and if you like that kind of thing, you'll LOVE these. Gripping, intense, nightmare-inducing ... plus you might learn some new things. Start with the older books in the series, her newer works aren't as good.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laure

    To start with, I was annoyed I had to read about another serial killer. However, the book is much more than that. I think this is why it is somewhat better than average. The political intrigue and incertainties as well as the characterisation make up for the cliched 'killer chase'. I can see why it became such a huge series.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    In introducing the reader to Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Cornwell does a masterful job of developing both the character and a back story, while also forging ahead with a novel-based mystery. While the genre is supersaturated with these types of stories nowadays, Cornwell writes in such a way as to rise above the rest (putting aside that the novel came out before the aforementioned overkill). When a string of women are left strangled and murdered, Dr. Scarpett must piece things together and determine whet In introducing the reader to Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Cornwell does a masterful job of developing both the character and a back story, while also forging ahead with a novel-based mystery. While the genre is supersaturated with these types of stories nowadays, Cornwell writes in such a way as to rise above the rest (putting aside that the novel came out before the aforementioned overkill). When a string of women are left strangled and murdered, Dr. Scarpett must piece things together and determine whether this is a serial killer or simply horrific coincidences. The latest victim's death points fingers at someone close to her, leaving Scarpetta to use her forensic knowledge to decipher who it might be. Cornwell hints at numerous suspects throughout, leaving the reader to wonder 'whodunit' from beginning to end. Cornwell uses great research to bring the book to life as well, from detailed forensics, police jargon, and computer-speak. This being before the wonders of GOOGLE, she took a great amount of time to thoroughly present things in a believable way. I cannot attest as to whether it was truthful, but it sounded as such. Anyone (like me) looking for a great series that many people have lauded, should surely begin with this novel and continue on the great journey Cornwell lays out for Dr. Scarpetta. Kudos, Madam Cornwell on a highly entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable novel. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the series has to offer.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marcie

    Recommended by my local librarian friend...she wouldn't let me just checkout "Scarpetta," the latest in this series, no-o-o-o, she makes me start at the very beginning, with this first, published in 1990. Well, and I did have to get up one night and make sure all my doors and windows were locked as I was reading the book at midnight. And I kept making concessions for the year, like yeah, I bet this DNA stuff was pretty impressive for 1990, and I can kinda understand why she's explaining all this Recommended by my local librarian friend...she wouldn't let me just checkout "Scarpetta," the latest in this series, no-o-o-o, she makes me start at the very beginning, with this first, published in 1990. Well, and I did have to get up one night and make sure all my doors and windows were locked as I was reading the book at midnight. And I kept making concessions for the year, like yeah, I bet this DNA stuff was pretty impressive for 1990, and I can kinda understand why she's explaining all this basic PC computer crap...when your story is that tied to technology, of course the effort is going to feel dated at a later time. I worked some time for a computer forensics company, and I kept wondering about the time frame for technology in that field...how easy now to see who accessed what, when, from where, and exactly what they did with it. The other thing that was dated...thriller story-telling techniques. The main character (Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner) often blanks out, absorbed with her own thoughts, and only catches snatches of the conversation directed at her, in snippets. This mimics the brain's stilted way of processing during "shock" or fear. She begins to re-examine everyone around her as the potential serial killer or guilty of other crimes i.e. hacking into her database or leaking sensitive info to the press or planting evidence or framing her as incompetently tainting evidence... This was about as satisfying as an episode of Law and Order on television. Not amazing. Not terrible.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This was the first Patricia Cornwell novel I read, and I expected it to be good because she's an author you see around a lot. However I was disappointed with this book. The book felt long. It was extremely detailed when it came to describe the technology used. I skimmed over most of those parts because the technology was extremely dated and it was hard to follow what she was saying. Also it described red-tape procedures in her lab that just put me to sleep. Suspects were brought up and never rea This was the first Patricia Cornwell novel I read, and I expected it to be good because she's an author you see around a lot. However I was disappointed with this book. The book felt long. It was extremely detailed when it came to describe the technology used. I skimmed over most of those parts because the technology was extremely dated and it was hard to follow what she was saying. Also it described red-tape procedures in her lab that just put me to sleep. Suspects were brought up and never really dismissed as suspects; rather, they'd just find a new suspect and forget the one before. It felt like a wild goose chase. Granted there were moments in the book that had me enraptured, but these were few and far between. I only really remember one of these moments, which was at the very end of the book. Word to the wise, the ending is not worth the 300+ pages you have to read to get there. The whole book was resolved very quickly with no real connection to the rest of the book. The preceding 300 pages were a waste of Kay Scarpetta's time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh

    Warning: Gore Alert. Kudos for writing the 1st CSI crime thriller – I liked that it’s a bit of a time capsule with electronic memos as opposed to email & DNA in its infancy. Makes it no less relevant nor does it get in the way of a good story. While the 1st half was pretty dull the second is a roller-coaster ride. Kay Scarpetta is edgy and arrogant, love her or hate her she’ll hold your attention. The supporting characters are wonderful, Pete Marino the grubby tough cop who lumps all perps i Warning: Gore Alert. Kudos for writing the 1st CSI crime thriller – I liked that it’s a bit of a time capsule with electronic memos as opposed to email & DNA in its infancy. Makes it no less relevant nor does it get in the way of a good story. While the 1st half was pretty dull the second is a roller-coaster ride. Kay Scarpetta is edgy and arrogant, love her or hate her she’ll hold your attention. The supporting characters are wonderful, Pete Marino the grubby tough cop who lumps all perps into the category of 'psycho-squirrels’ is perfection; punchy dialog and Pete gets all the best lines. It finishes off with a surprise ending, I sure didn’t see it coming. As an aside I’ve read a few of this series over the years and out of curiosity decided to read the 1st. No problem reading them out of sequence. “The dead have never bothered me. It's the living that I fear.”

  15. 5 out of 5

    CAM ♔

    Before anything else, I extend my utmost gratitude to one of the best people I've befriended here on Goodreads, Itchy, for recommending this awesome series! Heart-pulsing plot! It took me a long while to finish, because of running errands here and there, but I enjoyed every bit of it! This book is filled with suspense and interesting characters that you may either love or hate... damn you, Amburgey! Anyways, the plot is nicely paced and even if the technology mentioned in this book isn't as highl Before anything else, I extend my utmost gratitude to one of the best people I've befriended here on Goodreads, Itchy, for recommending this awesome series! Heart-pulsing plot! It took me a long while to finish, because of running errands here and there, but I enjoyed every bit of it! This book is filled with suspense and interesting characters that you may either love or hate... damn you, Amburgey! Anyways, the plot is nicely paced and even if the technology mentioned in this book isn't as highly-upgraded as ours today, it still intrigues its readers in knowing how forensic investigation was done back in the day. What I think about Cornwell? Although I'm new to her work, I find myself drawn to her writing style. She has this way with details that you can perfectly envision the characters and scenes, but when it comes to the medical and technology jargon, they become so detailed that it can be a little difficult to follow or it gets a bit boring. Good thing is she didn't make the characters wholly good or bad; they were more complex than I imagined making them more interesting. I will still read more of her books, all things considered. Quotable Quotes "Many of us have the same feelings, the same emptiness, the same loneliness. But we don't have the tools to verbalize them. So we carry on, we struggle." "Some people feel things more deeply than others, and some people feel things the rest of us don't." "Survival was my only hope, success my only revenge." "People often say they don't dream, when it's more accurate to say that they don't remember their dreams. It gets under our skin, Kay. All of it does. We just manage to cage in most of the emotions so they don't devour us." "The public is blaming the city officials, who in turn have to find someone else to blame. It's the nature of the beast. If the police, the politicians, can pass the buck on down the line, they will."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Vine

    Having read all her newer stuff, I saw this in a bookshop and decided to go back to the beginning where it all began. Somehow I had missed this one, the very first in the Kay Scarpetta series. Maybe because it was initially published in 1990. I definitely enjoyed it more than some of her later books. Her writing style was more descriptive and the plot easier to follow. In the special edition I picked up which commemorates 20 years of Kay Scarpetta, I was fascinated to read the extra chapter at th Having read all her newer stuff, I saw this in a bookshop and decided to go back to the beginning where it all began. Somehow I had missed this one, the very first in the Kay Scarpetta series. Maybe because it was initially published in 1990. I definitely enjoyed it more than some of her later books. Her writing style was more descriptive and the plot easier to follow. In the special edition I picked up which commemorates 20 years of Kay Scarpetta, I was fascinated to read the extra chapter at the end where Patricia Cornwell explains how she got started, found her plot and characters, etc etc. I always thought that like Kathy Reichs, she was a forensic pathologist herself, and it was quite illuminating to discover that she's actually a journalist and not a medical professional. For research purposes she worked in a morgue as a computer programmer. Anyway, back to the story. I enjoyed the way she introduced Kay Scarpetta, and Lucy as a ten year old brat. Pete Marino she portrayed as a balding fifty-year something cop who wasn't so grammatically correct with his spoken English. It's interesting how through the series Lucy's character developed as she got older, but Pete Marino stayed the same age over twenty years. Because if he started at say 54 years old then by the last book he should be 74 years and I don't think he would still be out there as a cop solving murders. If you have been a Patricia Cornwell fan, it is worth the visit down memory lane to read the book that started a whole new trend in crime fiction.

  17. 4 out of 5

    John

    The first book in Cornwell's mega-selling Kay Scarpetta series, Postmortem is a brilliant debut novel that still puts all its CSI clones to shame. Cornwell writes with grit, which is rare in a female author, and has the technical know-how to maintain an aura of complete scientific authority throughout. Cornwell does surprisingly good dialog, and her male characters act totally authentic, never serving as props for some cutesy romantic subplot. Of course, this is an old book, and the technology i The first book in Cornwell's mega-selling Kay Scarpetta series, Postmortem is a brilliant debut novel that still puts all its CSI clones to shame. Cornwell writes with grit, which is rare in a female author, and has the technical know-how to maintain an aura of complete scientific authority throughout. Cornwell does surprisingly good dialog, and her male characters act totally authentic, never serving as props for some cutesy romantic subplot. Of course, this is an old book, and the technology is very dated, so some readers might not enjoy returning to a world of cassette tapes, electric typewriters, and computer modems, but the science seems more-or-less current enough in matters where it counts, namely the forensic science stuff. The book stumbles in a couple places: there is a little too much talk and not enough action; a moment that comes across as being far, far to coincidental; and the resolution to the story doesn't live up to the cleverness of everything leading up to it. Still, you'd be hard pressed to find a more entertaining--or important--entry in the forensic science mystery genre.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    What a ride this was! And a reread, no less. It's been so long since I read this, I remembered hardly anything. Loved the characters, loved the story, loved the fact that I was immersed so easily every time I picked this up. Oh! Loved the audio performance by C. J. Critt. The way she reads Marino is pinpoint perfect! I'd actually forgot how terrific this series is. I'm going to the library to pick up the second book tomorrow. If you want a book that grabs you from page one, with main characters What a ride this was! And a reread, no less. It's been so long since I read this, I remembered hardly anything. Loved the characters, loved the story, loved the fact that I was immersed so easily every time I picked this up. Oh! Loved the audio performance by C. J. Critt. The way she reads Marino is pinpoint perfect! I'd actually forgot how terrific this series is. I'm going to the library to pick up the second book tomorrow. If you want a book that grabs you from page one, with main characters you'll enjoy getting to know, pick up this first novel in the Kay Scarpetta series. You won't regret it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    83% | B- You should read this if you're into: Serial killer mysteries, forensic science, starting a series, CSI/Criminal Minds/etc.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nightlizard

    4.25 Through all the book I was catching myself thinking "Jesus, just call right now...oh...right...no cellphones..." Ok, that book was a very pleasant surprise and I find the fact that it has been written in 1990 one of the pluses I got reading it for the first time in 2016, because It was such a true and real journey to the past. This book was quite a thrilling detective story. I am a fan of Keith McCarthy and his Eisenmenger-Flemming Forensic Mysteries series about Dr. John Eisenmenger, a forme 4.25 Through all the book I was catching myself thinking "Jesus, just call right now...oh...right...no cellphones..." Ok, that book was a very pleasant surprise and I find the fact that it has been written in 1990 one of the pluses I got reading it for the first time in 2016, because It was such a true and real journey to the past. This book was quite a thrilling detective story. I am a fan of Keith McCarthy and his Eisenmenger-Flemming Forensic Mysteries series about Dr. John Eisenmenger, a former forensic pathologist and I was searching for detective books where the main character would be a pathologist and I am glad I found it. Now, about the book itself. A few times I thought I know exactly who the killer is, but the best part - I was wrong every single time. Well, I guessed it sooner anyway, but much later than I usually do. It was interesting, like really kept me reading it without breaks, It made you doubt everything and everyone (well, almost everyone) and I really appreciate it in those type of books. I like the way characters were build, they were very "human" and it was easy to connect with their feelings. My only "concern" was a niece of the main character Kay. I understand the situation with her mother, I understand that she is different, genius and all... but the way she behaved herself was a bit "too much" for me sometimes. It got me thinking how psychologically unstable this child is. I wasn't really on the same page with the Kay's reaction on her behavior. I also do not have kids and I also have a niece that is a bit "older" for her age and I do relate to this situation for many other reasons and that's why I was conflicted by those parts sometimes. I am not saying it is a bad thing, just a bit disturbing for me. I do not talk much in my reviews usually, so I am gonna stop here and go and find myself a second book from this series.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tara Moss

    “Dr. Scarpetta?” “Yes?” I reached for the lamp and switched it on. It was 2:33am. My heart was drilling through my ribs. “Pete Marino here. We got us one at 5602 Berkley Avenue. Think you’d better come.” And so we meet the divorced, forensically brilliant and professionally troubled forty-something Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta in the wee hours of the morning, as she is called to the fourth grisly crime scene of an unidentified serial killer we soon realise has taken a dange “Dr. Scarpetta?” “Yes?” I reached for the lamp and switched it on. It was 2:33am. My heart was drilling through my ribs. “Pete Marino here. We got us one at 5602 Berkley Avenue. Think you’d better come.” And so we meet the divorced, forensically brilliant and professionally troubled forty-something Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta in the wee hours of the morning, as she is called to the fourth grisly crime scene of an unidentified serial killer we soon realise has taken a dangerous interest in her. This debut Kay Scarpetta novel was published twenty years ago, won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and kicked off what has become one of the most successful contemporary crime series ever published. Postmortem first introduces us to the now famous Scarpetta and series regulars Detective Sergeant Pete Marino, who is ‘pushing fifty, with a face life had chewed on’, FBI profiler Benton Wesley, ‘a sharp featured man with prematurely silver hair suggesting a mellow disposition that wasn't there’ and Scarpetta’s ten year old niece, Lucy Farinella, who goes on to feature heavily in the later novels in the series. With the impending release of Port Mortuary, the eighteenth Scarpetta novel, and recent confirmation that Oscar winner Angelina Jolie – who has already played a forensic heroine in the adaptation of Jeffrey Deaver’s chilling novel The Bone Collector – is signed on to play Dr. Kay Scarpetta in the long awaited movie adaptations of the series, it’s time to revisit the series I credit with kick-starting widespread interest in forensics long before CSI hit our screens. Decades after reading it for the first time, this novel had me hooked once again. If you haven’t read Patricia Cornwell before, or you haven’t had a dose of classic Scarpetta for a while, there is no better time to pick up Postmortem. What do you think of the casting of Angelina Jolie as Dr. Kay Scarpetta?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Janie Johnson

    I chose this book for my month of mystery because I have collected many of this series and decided it was time to start reading them rather than just let them sit there. I am glad I finally jumped into this series since it is a very long one. Synopsis Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose sign I chose this book for my month of mystery because I have collected many of this series and decided it was time to start reading them rather than just let them sit there. I am glad I finally jumped into this series since it is a very long one. Synopsis Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the madman. But this investigation will test Kay like no other, because it's being sabotaged from within—and someone wants her dead. Of course I loved the plot of the book since it was on a serial killer. To me that is the best plot for a mystery book. I felt like the pacing was a bit slow though for my tastes until about halfway through the book when it finally picked up and got much more exciting. I did enjoy all the mystery to be solved in this, but was a little let down by who the bad guy was, and it was not what I had expected at all. There was however enough to the story regardless of pacing for me to keep reading. I really enjoyed the wide array of characters in this story. I like Kay Scarpetta, I like her strengths and her ability to stand on her own, but I am a little disappointed that she really does not have any weaknesses either. She is not that 'perfect' character, but she is not flawed either and I really like my characters to be a bit flawed. Other than that the characters were developed pretty well. I recommend this to anyone who likes a good mystery with great characters. Had there been better pacing it could have easily ben a 4. I do look forward to the next book in the series and hope for it to be much faster paced.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    I read this book years ago but much to my surprise I didn't remember any it, (not sure what this says about me). So it was like reading a new book. And what a satisfying read it was. It's no wonder that Patricia Cornwell got such high praise for this novel. It's well plotted with enough twists and turns to keep any mystery reader engrossed. I wont give a synopsis of the story as it has all been done, many, many times before. I have read some unflattering comments on the later Scarpetta series, I c I read this book years ago but much to my surprise I didn't remember any it, (not sure what this says about me). So it was like reading a new book. And what a satisfying read it was. It's no wonder that Patricia Cornwell got such high praise for this novel. It's well plotted with enough twists and turns to keep any mystery reader engrossed. I wont give a synopsis of the story as it has all been done, many, many times before. I have read some unflattering comments on the later Scarpetta series, I can't comment as I have not read any of the newer books, but this can't be said about the early works. I recommend this book and give it 5 stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joseph - Relax And Read Reviews

    When I'm reading a book and all the while I'm thinking of what to read next, that's not a good sign. When I'm reading a book and I have to constantly fight the urge to put it away, that's not a good sign either. It means that I'm bored and not enjoying the book at all. Unfortunately this is what I felt like while reading Patricia Cornwell's debut novel Postmortem. Having read so many good reviews and received recommendations for this book, this was really an anticlimax for me. I knew that this b When I'm reading a book and all the while I'm thinking of what to read next, that's not a good sign. When I'm reading a book and I have to constantly fight the urge to put it away, that's not a good sign either. It means that I'm bored and not enjoying the book at all. Unfortunately this is what I felt like while reading Patricia Cornwell's debut novel Postmortem. Having read so many good reviews and received recommendations for this book, this was really an anticlimax for me. I knew that this book was written a quarter of a century ago, so I was expecting to read about some obsolete forensic and DNA tests and computer systems and programming. It wasn't that that put me off. It was rather the way the author delivered such information in her book. I found myself reading whole pages about how to insert a new password or a certain query function in the computer to obtain a certain result or about how a forensic test is carried out step by step in the lab. Though the author's intention was to give us a clearer picture, (since DNA testing and computers were at a very early stage back then), I found such detailed information too technical and annoying and it actually did not add anything to the story. I thought its use was simply to increase the book's volume. The book could very well have had half its pages axed. Though the actual crimes are very gruesome and well illustrated and explained, the story was more concentrated on politics and on how somebody wanted to taint Dr.Scarpetta's reputation. I have to say that the only chapters I found somewhat engrossing and exciting were just the first and the last one. The chapters' excessive length simply added to my frustration. As with regards the characters in this novel, I could not warm to any of them, not even to Kay Scarpetta. I found her rather bleak, negative and arrogant. I know that this is just the first book of a long series and definitely the author would have developed these characters in the books that follow, but I'm sorry to say that I will most probably not read the rest, at least not for the time being. With all the praise given to this author, I was expecting to be reading a much better crime novel and this was indeed very disappointing.

  25. 5 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    The clock is ticking. Doctor Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia, knows the serial killer strikes between the hours of Friday night and Saturday morning, She does not want to do another autopsy on another strangled woman. The torture and the method of strangulation are incredibly cruel. This has become personal. Lucy, Kay's ten-year-old niece, is visiting. While Kay loves Lucy, she is distressed that her sister Dorothy once again has taken off without much notice, deserting her da The clock is ticking. Doctor Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia, knows the serial killer strikes between the hours of Friday night and Saturday morning, She does not want to do another autopsy on another strangled woman. The torture and the method of strangulation are incredibly cruel. This has become personal. Lucy, Kay's ten-year-old niece, is visiting. While Kay loves Lucy, she is distressed that her sister Dorothy once again has taken off without much notice, deserting her daughter. It is becoming clear Dorothy is a somewhat irresponsible, if not neglectful. Scarpetta tries to hide the police files she is studying at home for clues from Lucy, along with any explanations of her job, but Lucy has a high IQ. Unbeknownst to Scarpetta, Lucy is a hacker. While Scarpetta is gone, looking at bodies with unpleasant police detective Pete Marino, Lucy has been checking out the doctor's home PC. At work, Kay has been accused by Dr. Alvin Amburgey, commissioner, of leaking information about the strangulation cases to reporter Abby Turnbull, who has been printing inside information about the murders. This is a serious issue, and Amburgey does not like Kay. He has been looking for leverage to fire Scarpetta, and this might be it, if he can prove she has been careless with her files or speaking off-the-record. She has to find whoever is breaking into her office computer network. Could it be someone on her staff? Or Abby? Kay's picture was in the newspaper, taken at one of the murder locations, identifying her. Now, a car is occasionally pulling up to her house at night, then leaving. Is it someone noting her comings and goings, and if she is alone? She decides to get her gun out, and put it under her pillow. Just in case.... 'Postmortem', book one in the procedural Kay Scarpetta mystery series, is thrilling and smart. It has been quite awhile since I read any book in the series myself, so it is a pleasant surprise that it has held up with the passing of decades. Even though the computer technology the novel describes is out of date, the story is informative and fast-paced. I loved it. I highly recommend 'Postmortem'.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Francy

    Avevo davvero bisogno di un libro che richiedesse tutta la mia attenzione e fortunatamente la Cornwell ha decisamente fatto al caso mio. La cosa che ho apprezzato di più è stata la capacità dell'autrice di non lasciar trapelare nulla sull'assassino fino alla fine, di lasciare indizi sparsi per tutto il libro, portando il lettore a sospettare di più persone. Le capacità e le conoscenze di Kay Scarpetta sono notevoli ed è una di quelle donne agguerrite che non si lascia mettere i piedi in testa tant Avevo davvero bisogno di un libro che richiedesse tutta la mia attenzione e fortunatamente la Cornwell ha decisamente fatto al caso mio. La cosa che ho apprezzato di più è stata la capacità dell'autrice di non lasciar trapelare nulla sull'assassino fino alla fine, di lasciare indizi sparsi per tutto il libro, portando il lettore a sospettare di più persone. Le capacità e le conoscenze di Kay Scarpetta sono notevoli ed è una di quelle donne agguerrite che non si lascia mettere i piedi in testa tanto facilmente, cosa che apprezzo sempre. Non so se è un'impressione mia perché so che il libro è del 1990 o se è una questione di traduzione, però ho trovato il modo di esprimersi dei personaggi un po' strano. Non che la cosa mi abbia dato fastidio, sia chiaro. Sono proprio curiosa di leggere Oggetti di reato, che tra l'altro avevo provato a leggere ai tempi delle medie: pessima idea, non riuscivo a seguire le indagini, quindi ho tutta l'intenzione di recuperare.

  27. 5 out of 5

    সালমান হক

    বইটা পড়ার পর অনেকেই ভরু কুচকাবেন জানি, কিনতু একটা জিনিস মাথায় রাখলে সমসযা হবে না। বইটা যখন লেখা হয়েছে তখন এরকম জিনিসই সবচেয়ে আপডেটেড ছিল, মানে পরযুকতিগত বিভিনন বযাপারের কথা বলছি। এখনকার লেখকদের সুবিধে হচছে দরকারে বিভিনন পরযুকতির বযবহার লেখায় করতে পারেন, তখন এরকম ছিল না, সীমিত উপকরণ দিয়েই সাজাতে হতো। এখানেই লেখিকার সবারথকতা বলে মনে করি। পাতার পর পাতা উলটে গিয়েছি। সকারপেটটাকেও মনে ধরেছে খুবই। বলাড/গোর যদি ভালো লাগে.. তাহলে বইটা একটা টরিট হতে পারে আপনার জনযে। এত আগে এরকম কিছু লেখার জনযে পযাটরিসিয়া বইটা পড়ার পর অনেকেই ভ্রু কুচকাবেন জানি, কিন্তু একটা জিনিস মাথায় রাখলে সমস্যা হবে না। বইটা যখন লেখা হয়েছে তখন এরকম জিনিসই সবচেয়ে আপডেটেড ছিল, মানে প্রযুক্তিগত বিভিন্ন ব্যাপারের কথা বলছি। এখনকার লেখকদের সুবিধে হচ্ছে দরকারে বিভিন্ন প্রযুক্তির ব্যবহার লেখায় করতে পারেন, তখন এরকম ছিল না, সীমিত উপকরণ দিয়েই সাজাতে হতো। এখানেই লেখিকার স্বার্থকতা বলে মনে করি। পাতার পর পাতা উলটে গিয়েছি। স্কারপেট্টাকেও মনে ধরেছে খুবই। ব্লাড/গোর যদি ভালো লাগে.. তাহলে বইটা একটা ট্রিট হতে পারে আপনার জন্যে। এত আগে এরকম কিছু লেখার জন্যে প্যাট্রিসিয়া কর্নওয়েলকে স্যালুট :)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Meags

    3.5 Stars Solid crime/suspense story, if not a bit outdated 26 years on. The protagonist, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, was a bit grating at times, but hopefully that eases over the course of this series. I will definitely consider continuing with these books at a later date.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sally Eastwood

    I loved this series when I first started them way back years ago and now I am enjoying them all over again.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Frew Schmidt

    I could not stand the main character in this book. Kay Scarpetta clearly hates all men. Every single male in the book is portrayed in a negative light, even when they actually do things to help Kay. On top of that I have trouble sympathizing with the overly defensive rich doctor. Additionally Cornwall is clearly a tech head since she mentions a lot of technology in detail. She's accurate and certainly knew what she was talking about at the time, but it HEAVILY dates the book. I can't really fault I could not stand the main character in this book. Kay Scarpetta clearly hates all men. Every single male in the book is portrayed in a negative light, even when they actually do things to help Kay. On top of that I have trouble sympathizing with the overly defensive rich doctor. Additionally Cornwall is clearly a tech head since she mentions a lot of technology in detail. She's accurate and certainly knew what she was talking about at the time, but it HEAVILY dates the book. I can't really fault Cornwall for that, especially since she's accurate and whatnot, but it took me out of the story. The same goes for her medical references. It's at least a little interesting that the characters were so amazed at using DNA in police cases, where nowadays that's obvious and expected. I personally wouldn't read another of this series because I think the sexism is so offensive. If I were reading a book about a male protagonist who hated women I'd feel the same way. At first I thought the book was just an interesting exercise in an unusual antihero, but having done some research on Cornwall's background I suspect she shares the views of her main character.

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