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on 17 August 2005
I have read all of Patricia Cornwell's novels so far and followed the life of Dr Kay Scarpetta avidly, this is probably one of her best. The main characters are given more depth and we learn a lot about mysterious Pete Marino and it materialises that he is in fact human and has feelings and these are brought to the surface in this book, as my favourite charcater of the Scarpetta series, this was the highlight for me. Overall, a great plot, Scarpetta faces a series of murders with unusual findings at the scene of the crime, only later do we realise important inofrmation has been held back and the suspense created in finding out who, makes this a real page turner, there is also involvement with many different law enforcement groups and it is hard to know who to trust, she even begins to susect her own collegues and friends. There is never a dull minute, murder, gypsies, politicians, media, stalking, this novel is one to grab your attention through the informative and realistic writing and I guarantee ,once you have started reading this, everything else will go by the wayside just so you can find out what really happened.
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on 9 November 2000
This is the third in the series about the medical investigator Dr Kay Scarpetta. If you've read or even just heard of Patricia Cornwall's work you'll know what to expect: serial killer on the loose, the investigator on the trail against all odds. It's an extremely good read without being deep. It's better than the second in the series (which seemed rather formulaic).
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on 21 January 2001
This is the first Patricia Cornwell book I have read and I really enjoyed it. Once I got used to the classic American-style comments it proved a very good read. I did however expect a twist in the tale but this didn't come. Obviously not a Cornwell trademark. I recently read a Kathy Reichs novel - she is being hailed as the new and 'better' Patricia Cornwell but I didn't enjoy this at all. Hope you go on reading more in Cornwell's series of novels.
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on 1 May 2016
As previously mentioned I am starting at the beginning and reading all of the books once again.
In this book we look more in depth to Kay's personal life and how in some ways everything hangs by a thread, and how people at the top of their profession are under so much pressure by so many people.

Marino's wife Doris has left him, I found myself asking why at the time Kay had not been bothered to find out this information?
Mark has left Kay leaving her sad and lonely.
Benton is holding information back on the most recent of killings leaving the task harder to solve for those directly involved, and hars criticism from those most intimately involved.
We have a serial killer or killers, who is targeting couples, no evidence is left at the scenes or so it would seem? Kay is angry that the lastest murder has found the two victims moved when she arrives? But not all is what it seems, even Marino is left out of the loop, Benton is being harsh and over critical in relation to Kay, telling her what to do!!! Mark then turns up? Kay turns to her old friend Abby Turnbull the acclaimed news paper journalist - but is she to be trusted? In fact who can Kay trust?
This book is yet again a masterpiece even on the second reading.
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A female pathologist, dressed in white overalls and rubber boots and carrying a heavy bag, raises the tape and enters the crime scene. Who is she? Well, she is one of a species of investigators that has become enormously popular in recent years. Writer Patricia Cornwell has depicted her in a highly successful series, calling her Dr Kay Scarpetta. With training in forensic pathology herself, and a string of awards for her books, Miss Cornwell's achievements have elevated her to the top of the queue of authors waiting to be read by this reviewer.

I found much to admire, in this my first Patricia Cornwell book. Plotting and planning have been meticulously done. A disappointing ending - so often the ruination of a good crime novel - has been avoided. The narration is in clean, plain sentences. Cornwell has her forensic pathologist character, Dr Kay Scarpetta, lead the investigation into a series of killings, and her knowledge of the forensic pathology involved is highly impressive.

Reducing my admiration, however, are several deficiencies. I happen to like crime investigation novels that mix some charm, warmth, caprice or eccentricity into the investigative proceedings. Cornwell keeps all these additives locked away in her cupboard. Dr Kay Scarpetta's life is a distinctly feminist, answering machine, laboratory gowned and masked one, at least in this book. Am I looking in the wrong place if I expect wit, warmth, vibrant male-female interaction or spruce dialogue as I follow a forensic pathologist investigating serial killings? As if she were aware of the need for these "cozy" qualities, Patricia Cornwell introduced a niece for Dr Kay Scarpetta in her first book which I am now reading, allowing something like maternalism to soften the otherwise strong feminist atmosphere that pervades "All That Remains".
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on 10 December 2004
This is the third of the Dr Kay Scarpetta series and is, without doubt, the best of the first three. Cornwell seems to have got her characters down to a tee by this stage and they gel together very pleasingly and make for a compulsive read.
This novel is quite heavy in the political intrigue stakes and for the first time we really see Scarpetta having doubts over her friends and work colleagues and she has a real battle on her hands to remain loyal to those she knows she should trust and do a professional job at the same time. The one stable influence in the book is the terrific character of Pete Marino, and there are some very touching scenes as we see this tough practical cop show the first signs of his gentler, more sensitive side, as we learn of the breakdown of his marriage. The Scarpetta - Mario verbal fencing in this book is an absolute pleasure.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 April 2016
This is early Scarpetta, the third in the series from 1992, and central character is Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia in Richmond. Together with the obsessive investigative journalist Abby Turnbull, FBI Special Agent Benton Wesley and the down-to-earth but slovenly homicide detective Pete Marino, she is involved in an investigation of a series of double killings that go back many years.

The latest is that of the daughter of a presidential appointee, ‘Drug Czar’ Pat Harvey, who has links to the CIA and the FBI, and her boyfriend and this brings added media attention. There is a very powerful attack on the media for focusing on Harvey’s daughter and ignoring the fate of ‘her boyfriend’ – something that resonates with real life. Are these the actions of a single killer or is the latest the work of a copy-cat murderer whose target is Harvey’s political investigations into drug trafficking and money laundering? Since Scarpetta has been involved in the earlier investigations that have yielded few clues she is at the centre of the media’s determination to find a person to blame.

Cornwell blends scientific details of Scarpetta’s professional life with her confused personal life, and adds dollops of information about the activities and political machinations between the CIA, DA and FBI. The dialogue, especially between scientific professionals, was occasionally unconvincing as the author strained too clumsily to make the reader understand the key point about guns, bullets, bones or wounds. Much of the focus here is on Marino’s private life which offers Scarpetta the opportunity to tell him a few home truths and support him - perhaps as an alternative to developing her relationship with her niece, Lucy, who features only briefly and not in person.

Friendships wax and wane, and are put under great pressure and the characterisation reminds the reader of what a great writer Cornwell was at the beginning of her career, much different to the churner-outer of formulaic books in recent years. However, in this she is not alone, especially amongst trans-Atlantic authors. There are very effective descriptions of rural and urban America and, again in contrast to later books, one feels that Cornwell is allowing the book to develop at its own speed rather than constantly pushing.

It was fascinating to see how far science has advanced in the 25 years since this book was first published with technology becoming much more sensitive, specific and rapid. Some of the tests described here take days, even weeks, for the results to become known. Hygiene during post-mortems has also improved greatly as well!

The relationships between the main characters has been created and developed in the preceding two books, and reading these first would be helpful but this can be read as a ‘stand-alone’.
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on 25 February 2004
I have been pretty scathing of some of Patricia Cornwell's later works, but this is one of the earlier and better ones. Unlike in Cruel and Unusual (where she seems to clumsily wrap up the mystery in 2 pages at the end) or the stereotypical and shallow Black Notice, which I absolutely hated, this is a gripping, well-written, well thought-out and chilling mystery. Recommended for a rainy weekend read!
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This was the firat Patricia Cornwell book that I read and I thought that it was tops! The tension bulids up as it is as if you are living the life of Dr Kay Scarpetta. She shares her inner most deepest thoughts and feelings which makes it more realistic and makes Patricia Cornwell one of the best authors aroun today. I will look foward to reading more Scarpetta mysteries in the future. I would seriously recomend this book to absoultly EVERYONE!
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on 20 February 2013
I love Jeffrey Deaver, Lynda La Plante, John Grisham, C.J. Sansom, etc. and was looking for a new author to read. Looking at most of the other reviews, I must be missing something as I absolutely hated this book. Apart from the Marino character, I found everyone else to be very shallow - and especially Dr Kay Scarpetta who is also extremely self-centred. I kept reading thinking the story could only get better but it didn't. It reached an abrupt end and, instead of being sorry that I'd reached the end of a good book, I just felt relief that I'd finally got there thus not wasting my money. I recently tried a new author, to me, Robert Ellis - The Dead Room - and this was a brilliant read. A very hard to put down, gripping story, which is all I ask of a book.
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