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Cause of Death (Kay Scarpetta, #7)
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Cause of Death (Kay Scarpetta #7)

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  35,408 Ratings  ·  583 Reviews
It is New Year's Eve, the last day of Virginia's bloodiest year since the Civil War. Dr. Kay Scarpetta plunges into the murky depths of a ship graveyard to recover the very human remains of Ted Eddings, an investigative reporter. What kind of story was Eddings chasing below the icy surface of the Elizabeth River? And why did Scarpetta receive a phone call from someone repo ...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by Berkley (first published 1996)
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So much for the books getting better, I guess I spoke too soon! In this book Dr. KS is filling in for an out of town medical examiner. Then she's scuba diving (because she's certified because Dr. K can do anything), then her niece is crying and drinking and crying and what? And then the Libyan’s kill Doc Brown to steal his plutonium so Marty McFly takes off with the time machine thanks to the flux capacitor... Oh wait.. well, it was something like that.

It was like she took everything that was s
May 25, 2010 Bex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Avoid at all costs! I would love to never have to read another page of conversation between Lucy and Kay. It drove me crazy and was endlessly irritating. I also have a hard time believing in a main character who committed affairs with married men. How am i ever supposed to believe what she says after that? Marino was cool and funny too. He is the only character worth anything in the story. The first half of the book was great and built up nicely. But the second half of the book was horrible and ...more
Apr 01, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

2/4 - This took me more nights to finish than I expected, I thought I'd get it done in two nights of reading, unfortunately sleep decided to kidnap me a few nights in a row and I just couldn't manage as many pages as I was expecting to. I'm starting to find the 'kill Scarpetta's staff' theme a little tedious, working for her is becoming a dangerous occupation. I remembered the fact that among all of Scarpetta's other accomplishments she's also a certified scuba diver and I remembere
Sherri F.
Audio version: 3 to 3.5 stars - #7 in Dr. Kay Scarpetta series

I started off really liking this series, but the more I've read (esp. several back-to-back in a short time), I've become more frustrated or disappointed in several of them, including this one. The audio might have magnified it some. I'm not sure if KS was written a little harsher in this one or if some of that was the audio's narrator. I've read most of the others prior to this & the one audio had a different narrator, which was a
Aug 09, 2008 _inbetween_ rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
She reached the stage where it's so bad you laugh - it might not be a happy laugh, not even a very amused one, but you'll have to by the time it needs the state coroner to say "he ain't dead" instead of a more convincing actress. I regret that my reviews for the last four books run into each other, mostly because I wish I'd been able to make detailed notes (esp. since I'll have to get rid of these pretty volumes). This is the worst so far - it ends with IloveLucy and her aunt saving the world (a ...more
Sep 11, 2014 Megargee rated it did not like it
If you are a fan of this series you may like this. Or not. This book appears to be an episode in a continuing story arc for the main characters, none of whose issues really engaged me. The main character, Va. Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, wonders why other characters from other agencies are hostile and uncooperative. I suspected it was because of Scarpetta's own arrogance and unprofessional behavior as she intrudes on investigations that are out of her jurisdiction and job description. This i ...more
Jun 03, 2016 Kavita rated it did not like it
I give up! I picked up about 50 books on a sale a couple of weeks ago and this was the first book I chose to read and it proved to be a bad start. I simply don't care about Kay Scarpetta, her colleagues, the murderers or the victims.

The book is full of technical stuff, sometimes purposely inserted. Does the ordinary public even care about the make of guns or what the occipital bone is or how exactly a naval boat operates? I found myself skipping these parts and soon enough got hopelessly lost b
Dec 18, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Cornwell continues the Scarpetta series with another great mystery that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. When Scarpetta receives an odd phone call on New Year's Eve about a body, she is left to wonder what to do, as little information is provided to her. Only later do authorities call her to seek help and they deny anyone would have contacted Scarpetta before. As she is covering for one of her regional medical examiners, she is faced with a new cast of characters while on the scen ...more
Jul 11, 2011 Ro rated it it was ok
This was my first Patricia Cornwell novel, and having worked in forensics for a few years, I was excited to finally delve into one of her novels. Apparently, I chose the wrong book.

I found the plot moderately interesting, but the writing style habitually annoyed me. And I didn’t particularly love the main character. Maybe if it was written in the third person, I would have liked her better. But instead I found her a little arrogant. While I enjoy a strong female lead, KS’s self-confidence came o
Sep 10, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: sullen lesbians
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Dame Edna
There are some garish tidbits in this crime novel - a homicide victim whose urethra empties on the underside of his penis rather than the tip - but the whole thing is semi-interesting at best, and I truly became bored when domestic terrorists, inspired by a David Koresh-type leader and attempting to sell decomissioned submarines to Libya, took over a nuclear power plant. It was as if Tom Clancy had taken over writing duties, but a Tom Clancy obsessed with sullen lesbian FBI agents. (Ladies: why ...more
Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta novels were something of a guilty pleasure for me during the '90s. Enjoyable and addictive page-turner crime thrillers with a generous helping of pathology and forensic science detail, which appealed to my otherwise dormant inner science geek.

But by this stage in the series - Cause of Death is the 7th Kay Scarpetta novel - Cornwell had well and truly lost the plot, both figuratively and literally.

At her best, Cornwell had always written rather plodding, uninventive
Anne Hawn Smith
These books are getting harder and harder to read. My dad was in the FBI at Quantico and a person like Lucy, with all her emotional problems, would never be hired no matter how brilliant she was. I also lived in Richmond, VA for years and found that some of the characterizations of the area to not be well done. All this personal angst is getting in the way of the plot. Corwell's earliest books used to be about the crime and it's solution and were incredibly interesting, but she has gotten to the ...more
Boring..................I usually love these books but this one totally sucked! Just dragged from page 100 or so and just didn't improve. I found the subject matter quite uninteresting and had it not been part of an ongoing series probably wouldn't have picked it up. I ended up skimming the last 30-40 pages, missing several pages out entirely because I was that bored. I have the next one in the series here, I just hope its better. Several people have said that Cornwell starts to go downhill abou ...more
Lisa A. Carlson
Jan 03, 2013 Lisa A. Carlson rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fiction readers
Recommended to Lisa A. by: reading series in order written
Shelves: fiction
The thing to remember when reading fiction; latitude is a given. The more flawed a character is the more threads of a storyline are available. Dr. Scarpetta is a thriving type A personality who works in a man's world. Her impressions are going to be different and thankfully she is emotional. I have said and continue to think she's an extension of what Patricia Cornwell is like and I find that continually compelling. She gets involved in multiple things in this book just like the novels that have ...more
Aug 05, 2012 Charlynn rated it liked it
In Cause of Death, Cornwell immediately dives into her heroine's latest case and mystery. And, yes, that is a pun, because the first victim is found submerged in a river, and Kay joins the diving team in recovering the body. While everyone wants to rule the death a drowning, the tell-tale scent of arsenic informs Kay that the case is anything but an accident; rather, it's a murder. And that's just the start of a mystery which ends up touching close to home for Virginia's Chief Medical Examiner a ...more
Jan 12, 2010 Jak rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cornwell, Patricia

An investigative reporter is found dead in Virginia's icy waters ... New Year's Eve and the final murder scene of Virginia's bloodiest year takes Scarpetta thirty feet below the Elizabeth River's icy surface. A diver, Ted Eddings, is dead, an investigative reporter who was a favourite at the Medical Examiner's office. Was Eddings probing the frigid depths of the Inactive Shipyard for a story, or simply diving for sunken trinkets? And why did Scarpetta recei
Apr 17, 2014 Dhuaine rated it did not like it
Shelves: crime-mystery
WTF is with that ending? It's like the author realized there was no way to explain all the BS she's written and she had to cut it while her readers were still breathing (instead of saving them this misery and trashing the whole thing). The book starts to feel really off kilter in the first 1/5 and by the end it veers into fanfiction territory. The only big "conspiracy theory" trope it missed was Nazis.
Susan Robby
Apr 05, 2008 Susan Robby rated it it was amazing
I couldn't help but get immersed in this book. Literally, a diver gets killed and the action takes place in Norfolk Va, my old stomping grounds! It moves around VA... Chesapeake, Richmond, Back Bay and of course the US Navy is involved. I am an old Navy brat! I live on the opposite side of the country, now. So, I have to admit that some of my enjoyment of this book had to do with personal nostalgia. However,the female medical examiner/detective named Scarpetta was really well portrayed as the pr ...more
Jan 15, 2009 Kate rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
It was an ok afternoon read, but lacked cohesive style. Her intro discusses her fear of scuba diving, but the one scene in the book about scuba diving was bland and unimpressive. She goes a little overboard with the descriptions of food and cooking in the first couple of chapters and then abandons the topic. I don’t know how much of the relationship stuff is part of the series so that part may have been fine, but I felt just a touch lost – especially some of the stuff with her niece. I felt the ...more
Apr 23, 2016 Milley rated it it was ok
It seems churlish to give this a 2 since it opened so well. The first 80 pages were excellent.


I have read a lot of mysteries with female protagonists. I enjoyed reading about their solo independent professional lives. i started reading these when i was about 10-15 years younger than the characters and now i am 10-15 years older. Luckily I feel like i have accomplished some measure of the same in that time! yikes! this one was different in that it gave or showed very little of that lif
John Carter McKnight
Nov 24, 2015 John Carter McKnight rated it it was ok
Shelves: unread
After enjoying five of the Scarpetta novels in a row, I dropped this one at about 80 pages in, and I'm not going back to the series unless I hear really good things about the later books.

tl;dr: everyone is so cranky I didn't want to spend another minute with them.

The mystery is intriguing, and I'm disappointed I won't find out whodunit: an investigative reporter is found dead underwater in a naval shipyard, but not drowned. There's a rush by the authorities to treat the case as open and shut, a
Hugh Mullan
Aug 19, 2015 Hugh Mullan rated it it was ok
This was my first Dr Kay Scarpetta novel. I chose this book in the series at random from the library and after reading this I doubt I'll read anything from this author again.
The first third of the novel is fairly good. Dr Scarpetta - a chief medical examiner - is called to the scene of a drowning in a body of water that houses decommissioned ships and submarines; she suspects foul play. This is the basis of a good mystery but the author then throws in religious extremists, global terrorism and
Feb 27, 2015 Marti rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, thriller
In this edition, Chief Medical Examiner for VA, Dr. Kay Scarpetti has gone to the beach but not on a vacation. One of her assistant Examiners, Dr. Mant, a Brit, has gone home to England to bury his suddenly deceased mother. Dr. S has gone herself because it is New Year's Eve, they are therefore short-staffed, and being single and childless, she feels duty bound. Soon she has received a specious phone call referring to a drowning, and not long after that, she gets a similar but this time legitima ...more
Jan 17, 2015 Joelwakefield rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this series, largely because I like the character of Kay Scarpetta, but this one had too many problems for me to get my arms round. The concept of strange things going on with a military contractor and decommissioned ships was ok, kind of interesting, actually, but then an extremist group with an evil book where everyone who touches it dies? And all of a sudden unidentified extremists from the Middle East show up as well? And for being professionals, almost every one in a formal ...more
Edward Beavers
Oct 28, 2014 Edward Beavers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best so far!

A great writer always keeps the reader guessing from the beginning to the end and in this book Msg. Cornwell does this for sure.. Truly one of the best stories of the Kay Scarpetta books.
On New Year’s Eve in 1995, Ted Eddings is murdered. It would not be the last death of the year in Virginia, but it would certainly be the most important. Eddings was an AP reporter with a charming demeanor and was one of the few media people Kay Scarpetta allowed even close to the inner areas of her medical examiner’s offices. And now he has been found dead at the end of his diver’s air hose in a restricted area where decommissioned naval vessels are made ready for sale to other nations.

Kay Scar
Apr 10, 2016 Alger rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So this is a typical Scarpetta novel.

I have read Patricia Cornwell's uneventful non-mystery novels before, and have consistently disliked them. However, thanks to the "Little Library" system in my area, I have an almost bottomless level of free access to bestselling thrillers, and since I have a lot of time on public transit I can afford the effort to revisit a series and re-evaluate their merits. Cause of Death appealed to me because it was an early Scarpetta novel, number seven in a series us
Mar 09, 2015 NESS rated it liked it
Entonces... Leí el número siete y yo ni en cuenta.
Jun 08, 2014 Véronique rated it did not like it
Van 5 sterren voor de eerste 6 delen naar amper één voor dit zevende in de reeks. Wat is er gebeurd ???

Het verhaal - dat overigens begint in hartje winter, tijdens de feestdagen, alwéér - is ronduit "flauw" en al helemaal geen "whodunnit". Cornwell brengt een item aan dat destijds "hot" was (kernwapens en Libië) en versmoort dat in een overdosis persoonlijk drama (de relatie tussen Kay en Benton ; drankverslaafd, beeldschoon, hoogbegaafd, lesbisch én anorectisch nichtje Lucy dat desondanks haar
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The Women's Myste...: #7 Cause of Death 1 3 Aug 09, 2013 10:35PM  
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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)
  • Unnatural Exposure (Kay Scarpetta, #8)
  • Point of Origin (Kay Scarpetta, #9)
  • Black Notice (Kay Scarpetta, #10)
  • The Last Precinct (Kay Scarpetta, #11)

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