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Unnatural Exposure

(Kay Scarpetta #8)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  54,564 ratings  ·  707 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 vile riv
Paperback, 370 pages
Published 2000 by Time Warner (first published August 1997)
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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 proble…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)

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  54,564 ratings  ·  707 reviews

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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
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Patricia Cornwell portrays the relatable quirks of professional and personal life. The focus of Kay Scarpetta’s morgue staff is mercifully not on that job but on what a day is like for them as people. In this series, it is fun to know the early internet well. I had PCs before most people and smile at the FBI’s technical prowess in 1997. Computers had 8 mgs of RAM: the size of one JPG photo or MP3 song, in 2019 today! They connected to the internet like I do in rural Manitoba: via telephone modem ...more
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 series, and, hav
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, passed-on, 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
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] ...more
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
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 these st
Joey Woolfardis
Kay Scarpetta is starting to get on my nerves
After the last Scarpetta book, which I one starred, I was worried about this, the eight in the series. Five headless and limbless bodies turn up in Ireland... and four similar corpse in Virginia! During the investigation of this likely serial killer Scarpetta has to cope with an unscrupulous rival, a budget freeze and a possible biological warfare threat! Almost back with a bang, good to see the series still alive and kicking!

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.
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 threatening to unl
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
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it
In Unnatural Exposure Dr. Kay Scarpetta is on the hunt for a killer who dismembers his victims. Only this latest victim has a few differences, some minor one major, that will send her investigation into life threatening directions.

Here’s the thing about Patricia Cornwell’s books...the plots are great and the stories are quite fun to read. It’s her characters that are the problem.

First there’s Dr. Scarpetta herself who is perpetually being mistaken for someone who’s average and therefore begins
(view spoiler) ...more
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 imperfectio
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
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 whodunit becau
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
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 story line came flo
Benjamin Thomas
Every year on my mother's birthday, I honor her by reading one of her many books, even if it's one that I wouldn't normally pick up for myself. Last year it was one of Patricia Cornwell's novels featuring Dr. Kay Scarpetta and I thought it was good but not great. So I've tried another this year and came away with the same feeling.

I went into this thinking it was a serial murder mystery that somehow involved a saw (based on the cover art alone, I will admit). Turns out I was correct but the story
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 believes the clues mirror that of a serial killer she's tracked
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 Scarpetta,
 Li'l Owl
Here's why.
As the series progresses I found that the events surrounding the central character Kay Scarpetta cause the mood throughout the book to become darker and darker. It seems nothing good ever happens to Kay which left behind a depressing feeling for me.

Maybe others have had a different experience with this series so if you are enjoying them, by all means keep reading it as there are many more to come!
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!
Oct 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: electronic
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
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unknown virus attacks Scarpetta and others -- perfect choice to read at this time?!?
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 in a landfill
Jul 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first novel from Patricia Cornwell, and I quite enjoyed it. Scarpetta is alluringly attractive and each move of hers kept me on my heels. The constant tussle of women and the world and women with women, a sharp reminder of hostilities faced by women in the work space then and now.

What made Scarpetta a bit annoying at places was her over judgemental analysing of people in the book which perhaps led to the opening of many story lines which the author could not close. And in this multit
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??
Clair Kiffin
This book is quite apt for the current affairs of the last few weeks.
Dr Kay Scarpetta is part of a series of books and it doesn’t really matter if you don’t read them in order.
This time we follow Scarpetta as she tries to solve the origin of a mystery type of pox which threatens to become a mass epidemic.
I enjoy Patricia Cornwells books but this one seemed to lack a bit of pace.
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The Women's Myste...: #8 Unnatural Exposure 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,

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)

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