127. Postmortem

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell
First in the Dr. Kay Scarpetta series

Pages: 342
Finished: July 17, 2008
First Published: 1990
Genre: forensic mystery
Award: Macavity Award, First Novel 1991
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: Medical Mystery Challenge. Book Awards Challenge.

Also, all my favourite authors Reichs, Gerritsen, Slaughter, etc have been compared to Cornwell so I thought I ought to go back and read the original author of the forensic mystery.

First sentence:

It was raining in Richmond on Friday, June 6.

Comments: Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia is working a case concerning a series of women who are brutally raped and strangled. Each case appears to be the work of the same man and a serial killer must be on the loose. Things escalate and danger feels closer to home, making Kay feel as if she can trust no one.

This is a well-paced and well written thriller. I often felt I knew where the story was going only to be surprised as it turned in a different direction. I enjoyed the mystery part of the story but was disappointed with the revelation of the killer.

Also, I read a lot of forensic mysteries and watch all the CSI-type shows on TV so I found the 1990s technology very hard to take seriously. In this book DNA was fairly new, there were big scenes describing high-tech for the layman such as how Kay could connect her modem to the 'server' computer at work, print outs were on perforated green-lined computer paper. All the emphasis on the pre-internet 1990 technology did spoil the effect for me a bit. I think another 20 years are needed to make this read more like an historical mystery, rather than just dated.

I will continue reading the series. I really enjoyed the characters especially Marino the brusque, burly, coarse cop Kay has to work with but does not like. Also Kay herself is a very likable strong, yet feminine female character.


  1. Good book - I just did a review on this book earlier in the week! Great minds think alike!

  2. I really loved this series until the last few where I thought things got weird and Kay was no longer as appealing. I probably just needed a break so I just go back and read the last one or two.

  3. I enjoy Cornwell's books a lot. As someone who also writes forensic thrillers, I have to tell you it's tricky keeping up with the technology, especially the DNA stuff. It seems like the cutting edge technology when you're outlining a book is quaint by the time the book comes out!

  4. Hi Jonathan, Thanks for stopping by! I can certainly understand how hard it must be to keep up to date with the latest in technology. And I'm sure that in 1990 this book was leading edge.

    I must admit I haven't read any of your books yet, but they do sound good!


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