Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta, #1)” as Want to Read:
Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta #1)

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  147,607 Ratings  ·  1,894 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, 342 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 1990)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Postmortem, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Postmortem

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 20, 2008 Patricia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
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
Down with outdated technology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
Edward Lorn
Jan 03, 2016 Edward Lorn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: CSI fans and people who masturbate to science manuals.
Shelves: paperbacks
Kay Scarpetta books, like Alex Cross books and anything V.C. Andrews wrote, are books I grew up seeing around the house but mostly stayed away from. They were/are names I associate with story-over-prose fiction, the type of popular books that are easily consumable but lack any writing prowess whatsoever. In the case of Patricia Cornwell, I was admittedly wrong. I have no problems with her writing, and her story is sound. No complaints there.

Mom always had Cornwell paperbacks strewn about the hou
Jun 24, 2009 Christy rated it it was amazing
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...
Karin Slaughter
Nov 14, 2013 Karin Slaughter rated it it was amazing
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.
First read: c. 2005
Re-read: August 2015
This is book one of the long-running Kay Scarpetta series. I really enjoy this series, especially the early books that are written in first person. (At a later point in the series Cornwell switches to third person which I don't like as much as a reader.)
In Postmortem a serial killer has been terrorising the women of Richmond. He targets young professional women who live alone and leaves no evidence behind with the exception of a mysterious glittery
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Dec 16, 2012 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kay Scarpetta Fans
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
Dec 31, 2008 Marcie rated it it was ok
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
Apr 19, 2013 Emily rated it did not like it
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
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
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
Aug 30, 2011 Cindy Vine rated it really liked it
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
Tara Moss
Aug 21, 2011 Tara Moss rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, favorites
“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
Frew Schmidt
Apr 24, 2012 Frew Schmidt rated it it was ok
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
Jan 03, 2015 Jenna rated it liked it
My mum loves the Scarpetta series and I read and enjoyed a whole bunch when I was younger, so I thought I'd revisit it from the beginning. I liked it but I didn't love it. So much of it is LOL 90s. The smoking EVERYWHERE, the new fangled computers, basic passwords, new fangled DNA testing, just everything, it is so dated now. I also found some aspects kind of problematic - like Kay giving her 10-year-old niece a glass of wine not once but twice, one time to help settle her stress levels, and the ...more
Joseph - Relax And Read Reviews
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
Dec 03, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
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
Feb 25, 2013 Margitte rated it really liked it
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
Mar 24, 2015 Jamie rated it it was amazing
I read the first 5 books in this series YEARS ago in paperback.. I loved them... need to go back and do a re-read via my Kindle really soon and continue the series..
Noa Velasco
Es una novela de los 90 y entran en juego los avances tanto informáticos como médico forenses de la época. Bajo este prisma, ha envejecido bien pero le ha pasado factura en la traducción.
Algunos términos considero que no han sido bien escogidos y a veces leía alguno demasiado literal del inglés, siendo distintos de algunos de los elementos informáticos que manejábamos por aquel entonces. Algún error de edición y otras irregularidades que no sé si se deben a esto o al estilo de la autora. No pue
Rachel Kendall
Apr 12, 2009 Rachel Kendall rated it really liked it
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
Sep 21, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
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
May 27, 2009 Fiona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fiona by: Jeane Simoens
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
Apr 02, 2009 Meghanly rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tom Swift
I was in a bit of a reading slump. I had a DNF this week, and was searching for something to get me back on track. I am probably the only person on Goodreads who hasn't read any Cornwell, which is odd because I love these types of stories. I started with book number 1, Post Mortem. It was a fun and fast paced read, the narration coming from a ME is an interesting one. I will definitely put this author on my stand by list, or in case of emergency; "break glass."

Rating: 3.643 Stars.
Feb 04, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-suspense
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.
Kevin Bachovchin
Mar 01, 2015 Kevin Bachovchin rated it really liked it
In the first book of the series, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta investigates a series of rapes and murders which occur at the same time every Friday night. Overall I thought it was an entertaining CSI thriller/mystery, and it is impressive that author Patricia Cornwell has the technical knowledge to maintain an aura of complete scientific authority throughout. I thought Kay was an interesting character, albeit not always likable. The supporting characters were also well-developed: the stubborn c ...more
May 27, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first novel in the long running Dr Kay Scarpetta series. When we meet Scarpetta she is forty and has recently become the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. She is currently involved in a series of murders; women who have been strangled in their own bedrooms. Nothing seems to link the victims and Scarpetta feels that Detective Marino is looking in the wrong direction when he suspects the latest victims husband.

A large part of the success of this series, I feel, are the char
Sep 21, 2009 Annika rated it it was ok
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2015 Reading Chal...: Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell 2 10 Jun 10, 2015 03:58AM  
Casual Readers: Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell 41 27 Jul 02, 2014 03:56PM  
The Women's Myste...: #1 Postmortem 5 53 Aug 21, 2012 06:00AM  
  • Fatal Voyage (Temperance Brennan, #4)
  • N is for Noose (Kinsey Millhone, #14)
  • Devil's Waltz (Alex Delaware, #7)
  • Likely To Die (Alexandra Cooper, #2)
  • The Third Victim (Quincy & Rainie, #2)
  • Flesh and Bone (Body Farm #2)
  • Absolute Fear (New Orleans, #4)
  • Vanish (Rizzoli & Isles, #5)
  • Rules of Prey (Lucas Davenport, #1)
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 23 books)
  • 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)
  • Unnatural Exposure (Kay Scarpetta, #8)
  • Point of Origin (Kay Scarpetta, #9)
  • Black Notice (Kay Scarpetta, #10)
  • The Last Precinct (Kay Scarpetta, #11)

Share This Book

“The dead have never bothered me. It's the living that I fear.” 57 likes
“Survival my only hope. Success my only revenge” 34 likes
More quotes…