Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cause Of Death (Kay Scarpetta, #7)” as Want to Read:
Cause Of Death (Kay Scarpetta, #7)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cause Of Death (Kay Scarpetta #7)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  39,316 Ratings  ·  713 Reviews
A mesmerizing new thriller starring Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta. New Year's Eve and the final murder scene of Virginia's bloodiest year since the Civil War takes Scarpetta 30 feet below the Elizabeth River's icy surface. Ted Eddings, an investiagtive reporter who was a favorite at the Medical Examiner's office, has died while scuba diving. Was Eddings probing the ...more
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published December 1st 1998 by Popular Culture Ink (first published August 1st 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Book Review
Cause of Death is the 7th book in the "Kay Scarpetta" thriller and mystery series by award-winning author Patricia Cornwell. I've read about 2/3 of the series and now returning to write reviews on everything I've read in the hopes it'll push me to pick up the series again in the coming weeks.

For those new to the series, Scarpetta is a Virginia-based medical examiner, but eventually she moves around a bit over the course of the 20+ book series. She's sharp, witty and tough. She's h
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
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Baz M
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm usually such a fan of the Scarpetta series but this one just fell short for me.

The beginning started well and there were promises of darkness and disturbing characters but then it seemed to lose its way.

Starting like a Horror it developed into a James Bond.

While Cornwell's writing is excellent as always, the action wasn't consistent, most secondary characters came and left without explanation and the darkness that often surrounds the Scarpetta investigations was minimal.

I'm not sure if Corn
joyce g
I still love Marino.
May 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 26, 2012 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
Aug 09, 2008 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
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
Jun 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 28, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 11, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
aPriL does feral sometimes
I have never imagined a Medical Examiner as a heroic partner with James Bond! So, Patricia Cornwell has filled in this startling gap of literary imagination by writing 'Cause of Death!', using her most famous and beloved female character as a mentor to us fans!

'Cause of Death' is a well-written spy mystery (what a shock!) and I thought it a little strange for Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Virginia ME, normally a superb murder-mystery maven, to be involved in a possible international case of terrorism. She
Bookish Enchantment
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
I love Kay Scarpetta, so independent and seemingly fearless yet human and intelligent. Not as racy as some of the others in the series I still found the book incredibly enjoyable and fast paced.
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
Lisa  Carlson
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fiction readers
Recommended to Lisa 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
Susan Robby
Apr 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Brent Soderstrum
This is the 7th book of Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series.

Things and characters don't seem to change from the previous books. Kay is still messing around with a married Wesley. Marino is still very needy and Lucy is a gifted messed up young lady. Oh, and Cornwell doesn't know how to end a story. Once again the story starts out strong and by the end we are left shaking our heads. It goes from a murder of an investigative reporter to hostages being taken at a nuclear facility and Virginia being thr
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2016 rated it did not like it
Here we go again...

I bought the whole series for a cheap deal (although it didn't end there since she writes a Scarpetta book per year!) and I intend to finish the series. I really do and I am not comfortable with my stupid ambition, because this is going nowhere.

The book itself might worth 2-stars, but in the series it was the weakest one so far. I like detective stories even though I'm not an eager follower, and I really like the forensic details in this series. Yet the very perfect Scarpetta
Aug 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Oct 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: virginia
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
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
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 18, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately Ms Cornwell is well studied on death investigation and forensic pathology as a lay person, but her storytelling was forced and bland. I didn't care about any of the characters and the plot was dull. I work in the field and might be holding this to a higher standard than most, but I'd recommend Mo Hayder over PC any day hands down.

After getting half way through the book, I put it down for good.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Women's Myste...: #7 Cause of Death 1 4 Aug 09, 2013 10:35PM  
  • Deadly Decisions (Temperance Brennan, #3)
  • D is for Deadbeat (Kinsey Millhone, #4)
  • The Clinic (Alex Delaware, #11)
  • Pop Goes the Weasel (Alex Cross, #5)
  • Sudden Prey (Lucas Davenport, #8)
  • Dog Day (Petra Delicado Mysteries, #2)
  • Still Waters
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 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)
  • Unnatural Exposure (Kay Scarpetta, #8)
  • Point of Origin (Kay Scarpetta, #9)
  • Black Notice (Kay Scarpetta, #10)
  • The Last Precinct (Kay Scarpetta, #11)

Mystery & Thrillers Deals

  • Fractured
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Never Smile at Strangers
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Furious (Faith McMann Trilogy #1)
    $3.99 $2
  • Where Eagles Dare
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Alone
    $17.99 $2.99
  • Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes, #2)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Period 8
    $6.74 $0.99
  • The Guns of Navarone
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Idaho
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Dead Letters
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Phantom (Alexander Hawke, #7)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Working Fire
    $3.99 $2.00
  • The Barkeep
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Blur  (Blur Trilogy #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Her Last Day (Jessie Cole, #1)
    $3.99 $2.00
  • Moving Day
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Smoke
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Unrivaled (Beautiful Idols #1)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • Secrets of Southern Girls: A Novel
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Blindsighted
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Reamde
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Dorchester Terrace (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #27)
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Flower Net (Red Princess, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Grave Tender
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Ugly Young Thing (Strangers #2)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Before I Go to Sleep
    $8.24 $2.99
  • When You Reach Me
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Pretty Little Things
    $4.49 $1.99
“maybe it explains something to you," said marino, who always got impatient with lucy's computer talk. "but it don't explain shit to me.” 1 likes
“point is, he wants to hurt you, doc, and he's already trying hard. one way or another he's going to screw you, if he can."
"he can wait in line with all the other people who want to.”
More quotes…