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From Potter's Field


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About the Author

Patricia Cornwell's series of crime novels featuring the forensic examiner Dr Kay Scarpetta are international bestsellers. She is also the author of two police procedurals and the biography of Ruth Graham.Author Location: Virginia and New York.Scarpetta Novels incl: Postmortem/Body of Evidence/All That Remains/Cruel and Unusual/Body Farm/From Potter's Field/Cause of Death/Unnatural Exposure/Point of Origin/Black Notice/Last Precinct/Blow Fly/Trace/Predator


What a letdown! After the emotionally involving The Body Farm (LJ 9/1/94), Cornwell returns with a ludicrously convoluted plot involving the not very interesting serial killer Temple Brooks Gault, first seen in Cruel and Unusual (Scribner, 1993) and making a fleeting appearance in The Body Farm. The book opens on a snowy Christmas Eve in New York's Central Park with Gault standing over the body of his latest victim, sculpting a bloody snowball. When Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a consulting pathologist for the FBI, and her colleagues Wesley Benton and Pete Morino examine the unidentified nude woman, they recognize Gault's handiwork. Thus begins a long, tedious cat-and-mouse chase as Gault taunts Scarpetta by infiltrating CAIN, the FBI's artificial-intelligence system. The bodies and the gore pile up. Readers unfamiliar with the earlier books will find Cornwell's story confusing. Still, her books are popular, so there will be demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/95.]-Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"

'Cornwell spins a relentless and complex tale of the hunter and hunted... Vividly compulsive, this warrants a new award; winner of the golden scalpel' MAIL ON SUNDAYCornwell is on magnificent form' EVENING STANDARD'Grippingly tense' THE TIMES'One of the most interesting and singular bodies of work in popular fiction.' SUNDAY TIMES'Cornwell is superb in evoking the cold, bare, tawdry facts of murder and their aftermath on the mortuary tray.' NEW STATESMAN & SOCIETY'A chilling, fiendishly crafted thriller.' WOMAN'S JOURNAL'Cornwell's descent into the deeper recesses of malignancy shows just what a superb writer she is.' THE TIMES'each of Cornwell's books is just as good as its predecessor unlike many of her competitors in the crime field, she maintains a consistently high standard.' INDEPENDENT

Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta plays a tense cat-and-mouse game with a serial killer, an old enemy, in her sixth outing (following The Body Farm), and he has her badly rattled. The story begins as a rotten Christmas for Scarpetta: Temple Gault has struck again, leaving a naked, apparently homeless girl shot in Central Park on Christmas Eve; Scarpetta, as the FBI's consulting pathologist, is called in. Later, a transit cop is found shot in a subway tunnel, and, back home in Richmond, Va., the body of a crooked local sheriff is delivered to Scarpetta's own morgue by the elusive, brilliant Gault. The normally unflappable Scarpetta finds herself hyperventilating and nearly shooting her own niece. In the end, some ingenious forensic detective work and a visit to the killer's agonized family set up a high-tech climax back in the New York subway, which Gault treats as the Phantom of the Opera did the sewers of Paris. There's something faintly unconvincing about Gault (in a competitive field, it's tough to create a really horrific serial killer), and Scarpetta, stuck with her own family troubles and involved in a rather glum affair with a colleague, seems to be running low on energy. Still, this is a compelling, fast-moving tale, written in a highly compressed style, and only readers who know that Cornwell can do better are likely to complain. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild selections. (Aug.)

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