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Unnatural Exposure (Kay Scarpetta #8)

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  44,089 Ratings  ·  477 Reviews
Virginia Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta has a bloody puzzle on her hands: five headless, limbless cadavers in Ireland, plus four similar victims in a landfill back home. Is a serial butcher loose in Virginia? That's what the panicked public thinks, thanks to a loca TV reporter who got the leaked news from her boyfriend, Scarpetta's vile rival, Investigator Percy Ring. But ...more
Paperback, Second edition. , 367 pages
Published July 1998 by Berkley (first published 1997)
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This mystery featuring Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta reminds me of why I was so addicted them a decade ago. You get an irascible, brilliant hero pushed to her limits, the thrills of a dangerous chess match with a serial killer, infighting with jealous competitors, and supportive teamwork from her cool lover Benson, a whiz with the FBI profiling squad, her irreverent blue-collar detective liaison Marino, and her tough techie niece Lucy.

This is the 8th of 20 in the series, and, hav
It's odd reading this in 2012, fourteen years after its publication; it must have seemed absolutely up to the minute in '98, with its online goings-on (on AOL!) and its virtual-reality recreation of the crime scene by Scarpetta's whiz-kid niece. And the supervirus/biological terror fears of our time (whether it be AIDS, which is specifically referenced, or bird flu, which is not) are skilfully exploited. But one is constantly just slightly jolted by the careful explanations of technological thin ...more
I don't think I would be nearly as hard on this book if it weren't in my "501-must-reads" list.

It's a perfectly fine mystery book, where instead of a cop or a reporter, it's a medical examiner who leads the way. Very Rizzoli & Isles, if you ask me. It's possible that this book was somehow groundbreaking when it first came out, but somehow I don't feel that it was. There were also a lot of open-ended story lines that didn't get resolved. I'm giving Cornwell the benefit of the doubt that thes
Aug 11, 2008 _inbetween_ rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Due to a conspiracy of postal workers, I'm still stuck with Cornwell. As usual, the relationship between KS and BW happened between this book and the last and now she's sick of him. While there seem more general personal/private moments, they are of the empty variety. She even adds a bloody recipy at one point. The true disappointment though is that Val McDermid's praise is on the cover - Cornwell not only doesn't marry cutting edge science with old fashioned horror, she makes what is genuinely ...more
This was the one I stopped at when I originally read this series, and I very much remember why: it combines three elements of previous and later installations, namely someone politically trying to frame Scarpetta plus (view spoiler) and makes a hash out of all three. Wingo is a welcome and poignant reappearance, as are the events of the very last chapter, which hint that Scarpetta may be able to finally move forward with her ...more
By this point I found Scarpetta unbearable. She's stopped resembling any human, and become some sort of paranoid superhero. [Of course, someone always is out to get her, but it's different someones all the time]
Dec 20, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Cornwell returns with a powerful mystery that pits Scarpetta against her most cunning adversary to date. When bodies begin showing up, dismembered, both in Virginia and Ireland, Scarpetta cannot help but investigate to determine what sort of brutal psychopath might be on the loose. When the killer begins to contact her with clues and intimate knowledge from her life, the mystery gets personal. Engaged in an ongoing dialogue in chat rooms, Scarpetta comes cursor to cursor with the killer on numer ...more
(view spoiler) ...more
Downloaded from

Narrator: C.J. Critt
Publisher: Recorded Books, 2004
Length: 11 hours and 12 min.

Publisher's Summary

Filled with tension and continual surprises, Unnatural Exposure is a thrilling chapter in Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta's life, and a triumph for #1 New York Times best-selling author Patricia Cornwell.

The body of an elderly woman is found dismembered in a Virginia landfill. Scarpetta initially believes the clues mirror that of a serial killer she's tracked
Normalyn Espejo
Don't let jealousy bite you because it can destroy you. Be content.

This is the first Patricia Cornwell book I've read and I somewhat like it. I love the main character's attitude, namely Dr. Kay Scarpetta. I like that she's firm with a lot of gentleness and kindness to people who needs it.

I hate Ring, too bad the book doesn't say if he's been punished. Maybe that will be in the next Cornwell book.

I just don't like how the book ended. It's like it's cut short and I had no inkling whodunit becau
Sep 21, 2015 Steffi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
bis auf einen kleinen Hänger ist das Buch echt spannend :)
Sonia Gomes
Aug 15, 2010 Sonia Gomes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All those who love medical thrillers
My first Scarpetta book, and I am pleasantly surprised.
Scarpetta, a pathologist has headless bodies all around her, but one particular body has her confused, an elderly woman practically starved to death, dismembered and headless does not fit with the other bodies. What adds to her confusion is the fact that not only is this lady an elderly lady but she has been decapitated and dismembered covered in some thick oilcloth, she finds fibers attached to the sawed off bones, the victim has some stra
Apr 24, 2012 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this one in one day, because once the first pox victim showed up, I realized I had read this one before.

The beginning of the book focuses on the hunt for a serial killer who dismembers his victims. This killer has been working both in Ireland and in the United States. Dr. Scarpetta has been looking at the evidence from both the countries. About half way through the book, a new victim shows up who has been dismembered, but not quite in the same way, and also with possible small pox lesions
Scott K
I coming to the point where a one time enjoyable series is coming to an end. The plots are getting far-fetched, are heroine Dr. Kay Scarpetta is becoming one of the most brilliant know it al nothing phases me, except Wesley & Mark, in short she has become such an everything person to envy, she has become a total hoke to me.

This latest caper is almost a 'Kay saves the world' thing. A human torso begins as a simple morbid murder but ends up being just the opening act of a pox virus that will e
Nov 04, 2012 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been a long time since I read one of Patricia Cornwell's novels, featuring Medical Examiner extraordinaire, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. When I went to work recently, a fellow book-lover had left me a large bag of books, and "Unnatural Exposure" was among them. I'm glad it was.

We start off in Dublin, where Dr. Scarpetta is giving a series of lectures. Conveniently, she's also investigating a series of gruesome serial killings identical to some back in Virginia. The killer severs the head--always at t
so, my beef with ms. cornwell at this point is that she sets up these beautiful mysteries and then it's like she runs out of steam and just ends them.

i mean, really? that's it? there's a new strain of smallpox out there and THAT is how you end it? how did it get to tangier island? what really was up with the motivation for the deadoc? why wait so long? did the rabbit die?

bah. i was going along great until i realized there were five pages left.

also, can marino have someone love him? while i ap
Surprisingly, this book was far better than any of the other Patricia Cornwell novels I've read so far. While, it is still more soap opera than story, the plot is actually some-what believable, and for once, the main character isn't perfect. Probably one of my biggest character pet-peeves is when the author makes their main character some fantastical ideal of themselves (Michael Crighton was really good about doing this).

In this episode of the ongoing ridiculous adventures of Kay Scarpetta, som
Kathy  Petersen
Cornwell seems to love the details of a medical examiner's chores, and I'm right there with her as Dr. Scarpetta dons gloves and haz-mat suits time and again. The buildings (and the bodies) she enters are an amazing array, some quite gristly and gruesome. She certainly gets around, often at a dizzying pace, from Richmond to a Virginia island to Memphis to Utah in an impossible Blackhawk cargo vehicle. It was fun, and fast, just to thing to read while watching well-behaved but busy grandchildren. ...more
Mar 03, 2015 Marti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
This was the best Dr. Kay Scarpella nook that I have read so far. The action moved rapidly and teh tension was built skillfully. There had been 5 grisly murders ten years prior in Ireland and as the book opened, there had been 4 more in America. The bodies had been dismembered, leaving only a trunk. As the novel unfolds, however, there are enough differences to make it likely that this newest case has been done by a different killer than the one or ones who had done the nine previous ones. When ...more
Amy (amyb2332)
I started reading this without knowing that it was the eight (or so) book in a series. So somre of the secondary storylines and characters weren't familiar to me since I hadn't read the other books. That made this story a little akward in places.

It is narrated by the same person that does the Stephanie Plum series so it took a while to get used to her voice not being Stephanie's. The books was a bit wordy and techincal in places. Also, there were quite a few secondary characters that were hard t
Jan 16, 2014 Apple rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A bit disappointed with this one. Was a bit confused with the flow of the story and after reading so many Patricia Cornwell novels, I dare ask, why does the ending have to be so abrupt? Cornwell is so good at weaving her stories and reaching a pleasant crescendo, but then everything goes downhill from there. Maybe a few more pages of establishing reasons and motives would make the reader even more hooked. You know, prolong the action and let Scarpetta get some more satisfaction from catching the ...more
Jul 12, 2016 M rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ok. Full disclosure, I didn't even make it to the end. We actually listened to this audiobook on a road trip. I haven't read any other books in the series but I feel that you shouldn't necessarily have to. Also this is going to be long. Because this was ~13 hours of suffering and I will make you suffer with me.

The entire first half of the book is completely unnecessary. They find a mutilated body in a landfill and think it's related to a serial killer in Ireland so they call in Kay Scarpetta, F
Carolyn Browne
Jan 23, 2016 Carolyn Browne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Returning home from Ireland, where she had been called in to examine the remains of a murder victim whose body was marked by the signature of a cunning serial killer, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta is shocked when another body turns up, this time in a Virginia landfill. Virginia Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta has a bloody puzzle on her hands: five headless, limbless cadavers in Ireland, plus four similar victims in a landfill back home. Is a serial butcher loose in Virginia?
That's what the pani
Sep 22, 2014 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, 2014
This is the eighth book in the crime mystery series starring Dr. Kay Scarpetta, chief medical examiner for the State of Virginia. This was a good addition to the series, even though this audiobook was abridged (I personally hate reading, or listening to, abridged works).

In the late 1990s (this book was published in 1997), in late October, Dr. Scarpetta is in Ireland, reviewing a case of dismembered bodies found in landfills, presumably the work of a serial killer. Back home in Virginia, a torso
A torso has been found in a Virginia landfill – just the torso, no legs, no arms, no head. This is the fifth one to be found in a landfill in several months and the tenth to be found internationally with the same MO. Only it’s not exactly the same MO. This time the appendages are severed through the bones rather than through the joints. This time the victim is elderly rather than youthful. This time the dismemberment occurred through a covering rather than being done to a nude body. And this tim ...more
Wendy Koedoot
Negen gruwelijk verminkte lijken zijn er al op vuilnisbelten gevonden - vijf in Ierland en vier in Amerika. Patholoog, anatoom Kay Scarpetta wordt bij de tiende zaak geroepen. Weer ligt het lichaam op een vuilnisbelt en weer zijn de ledematen afgesneden. Alles lijkt hetzelfde als bij de eerdere zaken, maar is hier wel echt sprake van dezelfde dader? Kay Scarpetta ontdekt steeds meer bewijsmateriaal dat in de richting wijst van een gruwelijk complot. Ze krijgt te maken met een vreselijke ziekte d ...more
Zoe Carney
I don't know why I like the Scarpetta series - it's overblown, Mary-Sue, unbelievable trash - and yet I find myself going back to it again and again. This is the first one I've read in over a year, after the last one stretched my suspension of disbelief to breaking point, and while it was tame in comparison, it was still pretty far-fetched.

The good: Cornwell's plots and characters may be ridiculous, but her writing is accessible and somehow engaging.

The bad: Bioterrorism? By someone who's motiv
Alicia Utter
Rate: 7

Kay Scarpetta is a medical examiner. She finds a body in Virginia that at first seems to match up to a serial killer. However, upon further inspection, she finds it is not that at all. At the same time, what appears to be small pox breaks out on a nearby island. The body she has has some signs it may have suffered from teh same thing as well. She attempts to find out who and why someone did this. Kay is a series character. This is the first one I have read, but it was a fun one.

This is a
May 06, 2016 Cait rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: very-whelmed
I'm very concerned - let me start with that. This is number eight in the series, and while the previous seven have left me with varying degrees of affection for them, Unnatural Exposure was equal parts my hardest to read and least engrossing book to date. I recognize this is a book from 1997, when I was barely a two year old, and as such I can excuse what seems to me to be the useless plodding about how "new" technologies work. But that's no excuse for the way the plot itself plods along.

I ment
Jun 12, 2014 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge, r2-ss
This is a mystery thriller series that features Kay Scarpetta, forensics medical examiner for the FBI. Kay is faced with many changes in her life…a boy friend who is pressuring for more, a niece who is following in her footsteps that is facing public scrutiny for her homosexuality, and a long time assistant who is coming out of the closet. Running parallel to those changes is her latest case, that features a new type of serial killer.

This book was published in 1997, and seemed dated. Much of th
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The Women's Myste...: #8 Unnatural Exposure 1 2 Aug 09, 2013 10:35PM  
  • N is for Noose (Kinsey Millhone, #14)
  • Dr. Death (Alex Delaware #14)
  • Bare Bones (Temperance Brennan, #6)
  • Hide and Seek
  • Secret Prey (Lucas Davenport, #9)
  • Blind Alley (Eve Duncan, #5)
Patricia Cornwell sold her first novel, Postmortem, in 1990 while working as a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. Postmortem, was the first bona fide forensic thriller. It paved the way for an explosion of entertainment featuring in all things forensic across film, television and literature.

Postmortem would go on to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony,
More about Patricia Cornwell...

Other Books in the Series

Kay Scarpetta (1 - 10 of 24 books)
  • Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta, #1)
  • Body of Evidence (Kay Scarpetta, #2)
  • All That Remains (Kay Scarpetta, #3)
  • Cruel & Unusual (Kay Scarpetta, #4)
  • The Body Farm (Kay Scarpetta, #5)
  • From Potter's Field (Kay Scarpetta, #6)
  • Cause of Death (Kay Scarpetta, #7)
  • Point of Origin (Kay Scarpetta, #9)
  • Black Notice (Kay Scarpetta, #10)
  • The Last Precinct (Kay Scarpetta, #11)

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