New York Times Bestseller
In this relaunch of the electrifying, landmark #1 bestselling thriller series, chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta hunts those responsible for two wildly divergent and chilling murders.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Kay Scarpetta has come almost full circle, returning to Virginia, the state where she launched her storied career, as the chief medical examiner. Finding herself the new girl in town once again after being away for many years, she’s inherited both an overbearing secretary and a legacy of neglect and potential corruption.
She and her husband, Benton Wesley, now a forensic psychologist with the U.S. Secret Service, have relocated to Old Town Alexandria, where she’s headquartered five miles from the Pentagon in a post-pandemic world that’s been torn apart by civil and political unrest. After just weeks on the job, she’s called to a scene by railroad tracks—a woman’s body has been shockingly displayed, her throat cut down to the spine—and as Scarpetta begins to follow the trail, it leads unnervingly close to her own historic neighborhood.
At the same time, a catastrophe occurs in a top secret laboratory in outer space, endangering at least two scientists aboard. Appointed to the highly classified Doomsday Commission that specializes in sensitive national security cases, Scarpetta is summoned to the White House and tasked with finding out exactly what happened. But even as she remotely works the first potential crime scene in space, an apparent serial killer strikes again very close to home.
This latest novel in the groundbreaking Kay Scarpetta series captivates readers with the shocking twists, high-wire tension, and forensic detail that Patricia Cornwell is famous for, proving once again why she’s the world’s #1 bestselling crime writer.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
As this heart-pounding thriller reminds us, the most terrifying threats are often the ones that hit closest to home. Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the heroine of Patricia Cornwell’s long-running series, returns to Virginia to serve as the state’s chief medical examiner just as a serial killer begins to terrorize Richmond’s most quaint and unsuspecting neighborhoods. Soon, the talented and witty doctor is elbow-deep in one of the most complex, spine-chilling cases of her life. An expert in analyzing dead bodies, Kay’s never been quite as good dealing with the living—and her investigation gets her in trouble with her slimy boss and the top brass at the Pentagon. This installment is an intense read that can be enjoyed by seasoned Scarpetta fans and newcomers. Autopsy is a chilling thriller full of deadly and unexpected twists.
Bestseller Cornwell's slow-moving 25th Kay Scarpetta novel (after 2016's Chaos) finds the forensic pathologist, recently appointed the chief medical examiner of Virginia, at her headquarters in Alexandria. She's preparing for the next meeting of the National Emergency Contingency Coalition (aka the Doomsday Commission), but her mind is on a woman whose body she examined over the weekend, a murder victim with severed hands dumped by railroad tracks on an island in the Potomac. Since the office has a history of corruption, and many employees remain loyal to Scarpetta's predecessor, she hires longtime confidant and former Richmond police officer Pete Marino to help identify the victim. They soon focus on a missing 33-year-old biotechnical engineer. Meanwhile, as a member of the Doomsday Commission, Scarpetta remotely investigates her first crime scene in space—a top secret laboratory where two scientists have died. Then a serial killer the media has dubbed the Railway Slayer strikes again. Though the complex plot touches on fascinating topics including industrial espionage and biomedical engineering, it builds to a simple and somewhat disappointing conclusion. Hopefully, Cornwell will return to form next time.
As a long time reader of the Scarpetta series, this book packs so much promise for an intricate mystery, right until it’s tied up in one scene and an Epilogue! Never have I been SO disappointed with the trajectory of Cornwell’s drama. It’s like she just lost interest and decided to wrap up. Terribly engaging right up to its shockingly abrupt conclusion.
Cornwall is one of the great writers of our time. I am especially fond of the Scarpetta novels that grab me from word one to the end. I recommend anyone who loves medical mysteries treat themselves to every book in her series. I have read them many times and love each one.
I had high hopes at the beginning of the book. I thought maybe this would be back up the the level of the earlier novels but it was not to be. The story was like building a great house and running out of money before you get to the inside.