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Postmortem (Scarpetta Novels)
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Cornwell, a former reporter who has worked in a medical examiner's office, sets her first mystery in Richmond, Va. Chief medical officer for the commonwealth of Virginia, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the narrator, dwells on her efforts to identify ``Mr. Nobody,'' the strangler of young women. The doctor devotes days and nights to gathering computer data and forensic clues to the killer, although she's hampered by male officials anxious to prove themselves superior to a woman. Predictably, Scarpetta's toil pays off, but not before the strangler attacks her; a reformed male chauvinist, conveniently nearby, saves her. Although readers may be naturally disposed to admire Scarpetta and find the novel's scientific aspect interesting, they are likely to be put off by her self-aggrandizement and interminable complaints, annoying flaws in an otherwise promising debut. (Jan.)

Another victim of a serial killer has been tortured and strangled, and chief medical examiner Kay Scarpetta is called on the case. Using her painstakingly thorough medical skill, and the help of a police detective, Scarpetta digs deep into the investigation to find the killer's most private secrets. What is the strange, sparkling substance that shows up on the victims' bodies? What is the nature of the maple syrup-like smell lingering over the scene of the crime? As the murderer circles ever closer, Scarpetta must also ponder why someone is trying to sabotage her investigation. A wealth of forensic detail and fine characters make this one of the best mysteries around. Narrator C.J. Critt's reading is truly superb, as she intensifies the intrigue, terror, and suspense. This tale is definitely not for the squeamish. Strongly recommended for public libraries.-- Susan B. Lamphier, Somerville P.L., Mass.

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