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Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta #1)

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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  121,891 ratings  ·  1,612 reviews
Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the ma ...more
Paperback, 440 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 1990)
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Patricia
Mysteries have long been recreational reading for me. About every fourth or fifth book, I read is a mystery sandwiched in between literary best sellers and stellar non-fiction. I've been meaning to get around to Patricia Cornwall and had picked up a few of her books at yard sales, but I was waiting until I found the first book in her Kay Scarpetta series before I dove in. Postmortem won numerous awards when it came out in 1990 including the Edgar and the Anthony awards.

For the first 100 or so pa
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Flannery
Down with outdated technology

I loved the 1990s. There was great television, Pogs, scrunchies, and the Pittsburgh Penguins were amazing at hockey. (obviously Jaromir Jagr's mullet contributed a significant amount to this last part) And although I totally loved playing Seventh Guest, Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego, and the like on our old Macs, I'm happy with the advancements in technology. Okay, moving on, I also love crime novels. When they are set in ye oldey times, I get caught up in the story, seeing how Sherlock could de
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Christy
If you can handle scary, and can look past gory and profane, Patricia Cornwell's novels are AMAZING. Aside from good old J.K. and Harper Lee, Cornwell is my favorite author. I'm convinced that all the CSI-esque shows were spawned from her books, and if you like that kind of thing, you'll LOVE these. Gripping, intense, nightmare-inducing ... plus you might learn some new things.

Start with the older books in the series, her newer works aren't as good.
Tea Jovanović
Patrišu mi je otkrila krajem 90-ih moja tetka koja živi u Americi i koja je njen vatreni obožavalac... :) Dosta čitalaca je voli ali se to nikad ne bi reklo po prodaji njenih romana... Šteta, moglo bi to i bolje...
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Warning: Gore Alert.
Kudos for writing the 1st CSI crime thriller – I liked that it’s a bit of a time capsule with electronic memos as opposed to email & DNA in its infancy. Makes it no less relevant nor does it get in the way of a good story. While the 1st half was pretty dull the second is a roller-coaster ride. Kay Scarpetta is edgy and arrogant, love her or hate her she’ll hold your attention. The supporting characters are wonderful, Pete Marino the grubby tough cop who lumps all perps i
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Laura
What a ride this was! And a reread, no less. It's been so long since I read this, I remembered hardly anything. Loved the characters, loved the story, loved the fact that I was immersed so easily every time I picked this up. Oh! Loved the audio performance by C. J. Critt. The way she reads Marino is pinpoint perfect! I'd actually forgot how terrific this series is. I'm going to the library to pick up the second book tomorrow.

If you want a book that grabs you from page one, with main characters
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Marcie
Recommended by my local librarian friend...she wouldn't let me just checkout "Scarpetta," the latest in this series, no-o-o-o, she makes me start at the very beginning, with this first, published in 1990. Well, and I did have to get up one night and make sure all my doors and windows were locked as I was reading the book at midnight.

And I kept making concessions for the year, like yeah, I bet this DNA stuff was pretty impressive for 1990, and I can kinda understand why she's explaining all this
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John
The first book in Cornwell's mega-selling Kay Scarpetta series, Postmortem is a brilliant debut novel that still puts all its CSI clones to shame. Cornwell writes with grit, which is rare in a female author, and has the technical know-how to maintain an aura of complete scientific authority throughout. Cornwell does surprisingly good dialog, and her male characters act totally authentic, never serving as props for some cutesy romantic subplot. Of course, this is an old book, and the technology i ...more
Cindy Vine
Having read all her newer stuff, I saw this in a bookshop and decided to go back to the beginning where it all began. Somehow I had missed this one, the very first in the Kay Scarpetta series. Maybe because it was initially published in 1990.
I definitely enjoyed it more than some of her later books. Her writing style was more descriptive and the plot easier to follow. In the special edition I picked up which commemorates 20 years of Kay Scarpetta, I was fascinated to read the extra chapter at th
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Emily
This was the first Patricia Cornwell novel I read, and I expected it to be good because she's an author you see around a lot. However I was disappointed with this book.

The book felt long. It was extremely detailed when it came to describe the technology used. I skimmed over most of those parts because the technology was extremely dated and it was hard to follow what she was saying. Also it described red-tape procedures in her lab that just put me to sleep.

Suspects were brought up and never rea
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Tara Moss
“Dr. Scarpetta?”
“Yes?” I reached for the lamp and switched it on. It was 2:33am. My heart was drilling through my ribs.
“Pete Marino here. We got us one at 5602 Berkley Avenue. Think you’d better come.”

And so we meet the divorced, forensically brilliant and professionally troubled forty-something Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta in the wee hours of the morning, as she is called to the fourth grisly crime scene of an unidentified serial killer we soon realise has taken a dange
...more
Karin Slaughter
This is a really terrific book. I think people forget how things started when they talk about current books by Patricia Cornwell. Back in the beginning, she was doing something no other woman was doing, and she did it really well. So well that she inspired folks like me. I figgered if she could get away with writing the kinds of books I like to read, then I could do it, too. I loves me some Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky, but they weren't into the hard stuff. Cornwell really forged a new trail.
Frew Schmidt
I could not stand the main character in this book. Kay Scarpetta clearly hates all men. Every single male in the book is portrayed in a negative light, even when they actually do things to help Kay. On top of that I have trouble sympathizing with the overly defensive rich doctor.

Additionally Cornwall is clearly a tech head since she mentions a lot of technology in detail. She's accurate and certainly knew what she was talking about at the time, but it HEAVILY dates the book. I can't really fault
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Matt
In introducing the reader to Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Cornwell does a masterful job of developing both the character and a back story, while also forging ahead with a novel-based mystery. While the genre is supersaturated with these types of stories nowadays, Cornwell writes in such a way as to rise above the rest (putting aside that the novel came out before the aforementioned overkill). When a string of women are left strangled and murdered, Dr. Scarpett must piece things together and determine whet ...more
Fiona
This was given to me as a birthday present from a friend here on GR which makes this book one hundred times more special and unique. I think when reading a book given or recommended so enthusiastically by someone whom you like there is an added element to reading. Although this does add a little bit of pressure - will you like it and what will you say if you don't?

Well I always tell the truth as I don't care for beating about the bush.

And I loved this. I was hooked from page one until the very l
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Margitte
I read a few Dr. Scarpetta-murder mysteries, starting off with this one. Patricia Cornwell had me scared and on the edge for the second time in my life! The first time was as a young girl, about 8 years old watching my first - and last- Frankenstein movie. Good Lordie, I distinctly remember the dark, sleepless, horrifyingly scary night in my bed, too scared to call out for rescue ! Well, this time around was a wee bit better. Only a little! I locked every door, every window, every freezer yes, j ...more
Bill
This is the only Cornwell review I'll put here.
This one, her first in the series, is excellent. The story was very good, the forensic investigations were fascinating. I've read Body of Evidence, All That Remains, and Cruel and Unusual. These were quite good as well, and worth your time, but I began to tire of Kay Scarpetta during The Body Farm. I've had enough, but it was fun while it lasted.
Rachel Kendall
When I went into hospital unexpectedly to give birth to my daughter (5 weeks early) I was away from home, staying with friends. I stayed in hospital for 10 days, during which time I may have gone mad if my friend hadn't brought in one of her books for me to read. Though I like some crime fiction, and I love noir, I would not have chosen to read a Patricia Cornwell book in ordinary circumstances. So I went in with a certain pre-conception – it would be dull, it would be fluff, it would be boring. ...more
Jennifer
I'd heard great things about the Kay Scarpetta series and I wanted to get started reading it before I fell too far behind. The series already has 18 books released, with another on the way before the end of 2011. People were right. This series is very good. I wish I had started reading it sooner and not just because I was missing out.

Postmortem, the first book in the Kay Scarpetta series, was published in 1990. Well before the world was inundated with forensic TV shows and books. The book, a pro
...more
Annika
Here's my problem with this first Scarpetta book.

I am reading them out of order. I shouldn't have, but someone told me it didn't matter. I can follow the story line well, and Ms. Cornwell does stay on track and doesn't leave a lot of inconsistencies, as far as I know.

"Postmortem" is not the same storytelling and fast pace of her other books. I dragged through this book like I was stuck in the mud and couldn't wait to get back to her more recent books. (After this one I skip to book 8, and I can
...more
Emily
It is evident that Cornwell knows what she's talking about when it comes to forensic medicine. She is also a compelling writer. It doesn't happen often enough in this genre that a scientific or forensic professional is also gifted in the 'actually writing a story' department, but when it does, it's very much worth reading.
This is Cornwell's first effort, in which Dr. Kay Scarpetta is introduced. A quite interesting character with much back story to draw on as the series continues. The plotting i
...more
Larissa Hinton
I was wondering who started this whole forensic science fiction writing book business. I loved Kathy Reichs book and the entire series with Temperance Brennan. I started to fall in love through the forced watching of Bones and then I heard that the whole television series was based on a book I practically flipped my lid rushing to the library to get my hands on the series. And then I fell madly in love with murder mystery books. Sorta.

I've always been the type to read Mary Higgins books but this
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Sarah
This is Patricia Cornwell's first book in the Scarpetta series and it was my introduction to Kay Scarpetta, ME. Written in 1990 when fingerprinting techniques were considered high-tech; DNA matching was considered only slightly more scientifically sound than throwing a dart at pictures of suspects; and, computers had dark screens with green letters, I had to let go and succumb to a major mental time warp. Cornwell includes ample scientific terms and procedures for the time and I can only imagine ...more
Meghanly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
wrench
Nov 19, 2014 wrench rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: f
This is a fantastic crime novel!
Something I am really appreciating is the way Kay Scarpetta (the lady sleuth/medical examiner) is really into women's solidarity, both in the workplace and elsewhere. It's really cool and refreshing after a lot of Sue Grafton's (who I love btw)Kinsey Millhone who is brilliant, but has a very lone wolf, only girl in the gang, she wears short shorts / I wear t-shirts kind of air.
I'm not gonna lie, the gruesome details are gruesome and awful, but the thing I really f
...more
Simina
It's rare that a book has me so inflamed I want to throw something out the window. This book has, though. And the greatest irony is, the writing isn't half-bad. The story, case-wise, that is, was interesting. Under any other circumstances I would have given it three stars and been grateful for an entertaining time. But the case isn't even the main focus. No, we have to be bombarded by the trials, tribulations and self-righteous opinions of a snotty narrator. You know, just once, I'd like to read ...more
Natasa
It was an interesting read...still haven't checked when it was written, but it is obviously and older read as can be noticed by the technology used, computers etc. but this actually made it more for me more interesting as it showed how more difficult it was to figure out stuff before (but it isn't like ancient history which makes it the more fascinating).

This is my first read by this author. I'll probably continue to read this series. I would have loved a bit more action and the characters were
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Jonathan
The mission:

Conduct reconnaissance of mysterious fiction by infiltrating Patricia Cornwell's Postmortem.

The intel:

This is kin to CSI New York, Miami, Las Vegas, Name-that-city, and every other common-as-grass-in-a-lawn crime television show. The characters, especially the minor ones, flirt dangerously with stereotypes. The technical side of the story flies several miles over the average person's head. Yet the story is strong because suspense/mystery/tension/call it what you will--that building
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Joseph
When I'm reading a book and all the while I'm thinking of what to read next, that's not a good sign. When I'm reading a book and I have to constantly fight the urge to put it away, that's not a good sign either. It means that I'm bored and not enjoying the book at all. Unfortunately this is what I felt like while reading Patricia Cornwell's debut novel Postmortem. Having read so many good reviews and received recommendations for this book, this was really an anticlimax for me.

I knew that this b
...more
Melissa Andrews
I guess this was a mystery because we didn't know who did it until the end, but it annoyed me that we *really* didn't know. The killer was just some random guy who played no part in the story at all. I guess I am accustomed to mysteries where the bad guy/girl is someone we've met during the story. It doesn't mean that I always figure out who it is, but you at least have some context. In this, we get a whole lot of info about the bad guy at the end - there was no point in the story where you coul ...more
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Casual Readers: Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell 41 25 Jul 02, 2014 03:56PM  
The Women's Myste...: #1 Postmortem 5 52 Aug 21, 2012 06:00AM  
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Patricia Cornwell sold her first novel, Postmortem, while working as a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. At her first signing, held during a lunch break from the morgue, Patricia sold no copies of Postmortem and fielded exactly one question – an elderly woman asked her where she could find the cookbooks.

Postmortem would go on to win the Edgar, Cre
...more
More about Patricia Cornwell...
Cruel & Unusual (Kay Scarpetta, #4) The Body Farm (Kay Scarpetta, #5) Body of Evidence (Kay Scarpetta, #2) Point of Origin (Kay Scarpetta, #9) All That Remains (Kay Scarpetta, #3)

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“The dead have never bothered me. It's the living that I fear.” 49 likes
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