Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Unnatural Exposure (Kay Scarpetta, #8)” as Want to Read:
Unnatural Exposure (Kay Scarpetta, #8)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Unnatural Exposure

(Kay Scarpetta #8)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  50,604 ratings  ·  632 reviews
See alternate cover edition here

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 local TV reporter who got the leaked news from her boyfriend, Scarpetta's vil
Paperback, 370 pages
Published 2000 by Time Warner (first published August 1997)
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 Unnatural Exposure, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Panya Yes. I read the seventh book in this series over a decade ago and read the first over 20 years ago, and with my rapidly failing memory I had no…moreYes. I read the seventh book in this series over a decade ago and read the first over 20 years ago, and with my rapidly failing memory I had no problems. Relevant information about characters and their previous storylines is rehashed.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  50,604 ratings  ·  632 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Book Review
Unnatural Exposure, the 8th book in the "Kay Scarpetta" thriller series, published in 1997, by Patricia Cornwell, get 3 of 5 stars. By this time, fans of the series know Kay Scarpetta really well, and you either love her or get annoyed by her but love the mysteries. I generally like her as a character, but she did push a few buttons in this installment. Now that shes become fairly famous in her field, she's a little holier-than-thou... probably rightfully so, but still, a little goes a long way. This one
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 seri
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: passed-on, mystery, 2012
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
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Kaethe Douglas
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]
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
A get a lot of books in trades. Including this one. Many times people think I'm a fan of stuff I don't particularly like.

Case in point. DNF.

I got a couple of chapters in, and Kay Scarpetta was acting like Lucy Van Pelt being a fussbudget. I got annoyed and moved on.
Aug 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
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 t ...more
Joey Woolfardis
Kay Scarpetta is starting to get on my nerves
aPriL does feral sometimes
Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her friends are all over a scary body dismemberment case, suspecting a serial killer. Only the torso is found, at first, in a Richmond, Virginia landfill! Clues from the body indicate there is more going on than bloodlust though. Was the victim infected with a terrible disease? A lot of people soon seem to be dying of 'Unnatural Exposure' in this eighth novel in the series of Scarpetta murder mysteries.

Can the team of FBI agents and forensic scientists headed by
(view spoiler) ...more
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars.

Aussie Readers Annual Series Challenge 2019: Book #8 in Scarpetta Series
Aussie Readers April Challenge 2019: Read a book where the lead character is in the medical profession

I first read this book when it was originally published (which is nearly 20 years ago) and for the first half of this book, I could not recall any of the story line. However, when the title is explained about halfway through the book and the pox victim is revealed the bulk of the s
Brent Soderstrum
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is Cornwell's 8th Kay Scarpetta book and it is an improvement over her past 3-4. In fact, so far, this is the best ending Cornwell has put together. I was worried she would have her typical yawner of an ending but she has shown me she can put some twists in play.

As I was reading the book I was thinking to myself, "Whatever happened to just your typical serial killer?" You see in this one we have someone who is killing people with a disease very like small pox and they are threat
Sep 29, 2007 marked it as to-read
Shelves: audiblecom, audiobook
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 bel
Normalyn Espejo
Aug 27, 2011 rated it liked it
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 wh
Oct 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: soft
and the healing begins...

couldn't keep up with all those biological hazards;
plus the ocr is giving me problems

the wrap-up was a stunner, though
Lou (Lou and Life)
DNF on page 132/370

So this is the first book that I DNF in 2018. I just couldn't put myself through this book anymore, which is disappointing because I did really enjoy the first 5 books in the Dr Kay Scarpetta series. But from book 6 I've been disappointed and I won't be continuing on with the series. This book put me into a reading slump, and I didn't think that this book would be worth me reading it until the end.

So the plot of this book is that a 10th dismembered body is found
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the first time I've ever given a murder mystery a 5-star rating. Look, I enjoy murder mysteries. They are the candy of my reading material. I don't look to them for brilliant writing or life changing truths.

But this book was genuinely great. Probably one of the books I have enjoyed most this year. Now 8 books into the story I appreciate Cornwell's growth as a writer and the growth of Scarpetta and Lucy as characters over the course of the series. Scarpetta is relatable in her
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, crime
Patricia Cornwell's skill in creating medical mysteries filled with intriguing clues continued with “Unnatural Exposure”. Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta landed deeply in a deadly plot endangering herself and others. As usual, the book was easy to read thanks to its layout. With the timely insertion of intellectual clues and medical details, my interest was fully maintained to the end. The competitive nature of humans was explored and the fearfulness of a deadly, unknown disease revealed the ...more
Baz MW
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book in the Scarpetta series is a vast improvement to the series.
I was turned off the series for a little while because Kaye Scarpetta became such a Debbie-downer to read that her storyline was exhausting.

Her character has definitely turned around in this book. There are some great settings here with Tangier Island and a fantastic plot twist that you won’t see coming!
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
3.5! Would have rated it four stars, but the ending was a little weird.


Still unclear if these are all the same person??
Martin Vallance
May 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
I'm finding the lead character very annoying, maybe she's supposed to be, but I'm almost tempted to stop reading, I won't, but probably won't read another book in the series

An annoying OCD main character, and the abrupt conclusion, the series story line was the only reason I kept reading
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
Cornwell's styles is always engaging and does not disappoint with "Unnatural Exposure". That being said she does get a little technical when it comes to the forensic side of the descriptions. This is part of what makes her writing so great as it paints such detailed pictures. I am working my way through the whole Scarpetta series and have not read one yet i would not highly recommend.
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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-
Scott K
Nov 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Sonia Gomes
Aug 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
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
Cornwell, Patricia - 3th kay Scarpetta

A sadistic serial killer, the weapon a deadly virus Dublin, Ireland and Richmond, Virginia: separated by thousands of miles - linked by murder. For Dr Kay Scarpetta a lecture stint in Ireland provides the perfect opportunity to find out if the murders on both sides of the Atlantic are indeed connected. Five dismembered, beheaded bodies were found in Ireland five years ago - now four have been discovered in the States.
Nov 20, 2010 rated it liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Women's Myste...: #8 Unnatural Exposure 1 3 Aug 09, 2013 10:35PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Deadly Decisions (Temperance Brennan, #3)
  • L is for Lawless (Kinsey Millhone, #12)
  • Monster (Alex Delaware, #13)
  • Hide and Seek
  • Stalemate (Eve Duncan, #7)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
  • The Bone Thief (Body Farm, #5)
  • Chosen Prey (Lucas Davenport, #12)
  • Without Consent (Dr. Anya Crichton, #2)
See similar books…
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,

Other books in the series

Kay Scarpetta (1 - 10 of 25 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)
“Strung himself up from the rafters in the barn,” she went on as we worked. “Was being treated for a drink problem and depression. More of the same. Unemployment, women, drugs. They” 1 likes
“Can’t I just drift now and then?” I didn’t want to be present.” 1 likes
More quotes…