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


(Kay Scarpetta #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  224,501 ratings  ·  3,139 reviews
Four women with nothing in common, united only in death. Four brutalized victims of a brilliant monster - a "Mr. Nobody", moving undetected through a paralyzed city, leaving behind a gruesome trail of carnage . . . but few clues. With skilled hands, an unerring eye, and the latest advances in forensic research, an unrelenting female medical examiner - Kay Scarpetta - is de ...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Pocket Books (first published January 9th 1990)
More Details... Edit Details
Featured Notes & Highlights

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.
Popular Answered Questions
Sarah IMHO it does not make any difference which order to read them in. I read the books as I am able to obtain them. Read Postmortem after reading about fi…moreIMHO it does not make any difference which order to read them in. I read the books as I am able to obtain them. Read Postmortem after reading about five other Scarpetta books. Thoroughly enjoyed the book and it was fun to see how Scarpetta's relationship with Marino develops after knowing where it ends up.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  224,501 ratings  ·  3,139 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta, #1)
Karin Slaughter
Nov 14, 2013 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. ...more
Luca Ambrosino
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
English (Postmortem) / Italiano

«It was raining in Richmond on Friday, June 6»

The first case of Kay Scarpetta, the coroner who made the fortune of the American writer Patricia Cornwell, starts in the rain. The population of Richmond is upset about the presence of a serial killer who first rapes his victims, and then he strangles them in their bedrooms. The coroner Scarpetta, who examined the bodies of the killed women, awaits powerless the next victim.

A few weeks ago I picked from my bookshelf an

Ahmad Sharabiani
Post-Mortem (Kay Scarpetta #1), Patricia Cornwell

The novel opens as Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia, receives an early-morning call from Sergeant Pete Marino, a homicide detective at the Richmond Police Department with whom Scarpetta has a tense working relationship.

She meets him at the scene of a woman's gruesome strangling, the latest in a string of unsolved murders in Richmond.

Four women with nothing in common, united only in death. Four brutalized
Dec 20, 2012 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
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Patricia Cornwell's Postmortem was my first foray into the forensic science crime novel. While I am fully capable of reading detailed descriptions of gore and autopsies without getting sick, I was a tad worried that it would get too technical where I'd lose some of the understanding of the medical aspects. While it happens on occasion, the editors and author have done a great job at finding the perfect level of language to keep the words flowing properly most of the time.

Scarpetta is a true hero
Dec 17, 2008 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
mark monday
A Post Mortem Report on Postmortem

Management/Performance: Careful project management led to successful achievement of outcome objectives. Tension was raised; stakes were high; stakeholders and key informants displayed a personal engagement with project that enhanced performance.

Communication: Efficient and professional; dry and often uninteresting. Occasional well-turned and resonant phrases made welcome albeit brief appearances.

Group Dynamics: Principal Investigator was expertly characterized.
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
Jan 30, 2008 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.
Apr 19, 2013 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
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell is the first book I've read by this author and I definitely feel I'm late to this party, it's been along time since I thoroughly enjoyed a crime book like this, I love how it's a 30 year old book and reads like a new one published in the last couple of year's.
It's a great heart in the throat kind of read which starts as a feeling of unease in the pit of your stomach and the whole guessing of whodunit whilst you never quite get it all until the end is just great.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
To start with, I was annoyed I had to read about another serial killer. However, the book is much more than that. I think this is why it is somewhat better than average. The political intrigue and incertainties as well as the characterisation make up for the cliched 'killer chase'. I can see why it became such a huge series. ...more
Edward Lorn
Oct 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: CSI fans and people who masturbate to science manuals.
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
S.P. Aruna
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller-mystery
My first book from this author, and I'm now convinced that Ms Cornwell reigns supreme as a crime fiction writer. I'm hooked! I'll be reading as much as I can of her works.

Her series protagonist, Kay Scarpetta, a forensic pathologist, seems as genuine as they come. The novel's prose is written with a level of sophistication above the norm for the genre, and the technical details are as well researched as the descriptions found in the books by Thomas Harris

Logically enough, I started with the fir
Rating: Good

Mystery + Thriller

This is a very popular series, the first book in the Kay Scarpetta series and the debut novel for Patricia Cornwell. As the series title has been named the novels are revolving around the Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta who teams up with Sergeant Pete Marino in the Richmond Police Department to solve a murder case. I assume these two will be teaming up in all the other books too.

The plot is entertaining at times and at other times it can become a bit
Dec 31, 2008 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
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 15, 2012 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 into
Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
This was a pretty good first book in a series. It definitely had its moments that completely creeped me out and gave me goose bumps and had me looking over my shoulder making sure no one was watching me.
I will definitely be reading more in the series.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Completely unmemorable.
Cindy Vine
Aug 30, 2011 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
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
cam ♥

Before anything else, I extend my utmost gratitude to one of the best people I've befriended here on Goodreads, Itchy, for recommending this awesome series!

Heart-pulsing plot! It took me a long while to finish, because of running errands here and there, but I enjoyed every bit of it! This book is filled with suspense and interesting characters that you may either love or hate... damn you, Amburgey! Anyways, the plot is nicely paced and even if the technology mentioned in this book isn't as highl
I have been eager to reread this book for a while now and am so happy I finally did it (and what took me so long?). It's been nearly 20 years since I first read this book and it launched me on a path of not only becoming a huge fan of Kay Scarpetta and Patricia Cornwell, but opened me up to a whole knew genre of thrillers that I didn't know existed. And I've never looked back!

I remember instantly loving Kay, and her circle of friends/family/colleagues, from the start as well as being gripped by
Tara Moss
Aug 20, 2011 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
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
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible, re-read
"Do no harm and leave the world a better place than you found it."

Even better than I remember from the first time I read it yearssssss ago! Audible on point!

Janete Fabricio ON  SEMI HIATUS
Jul 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this book on and I'll continue with this Kay Scarpetta series because I think she's an interesting character. ...more
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Patricia Cornwell book and I can defintely see why this is a 30+ book series.

I loved Dr Kay Scarpetta. She's probably now one of my new favourite characters. I loved the fact that we were following a medical examiners perspective in a case. I usually read from the detective inspector perspective, so this made a nice change.

I really enjoyed the writing style, the characters and findings out the background/ personal life of Dr Scarpetta.

It was gorey and gross in places, but it
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 stars for the 1st book in the Kay Scarpetta series!

I am ashamed to say I am only just starting this series (I am only 24 though I have a lot to catch up on!) It is also the first book I have read of Patricia Cornwell!

I loved this book it did a brilliant job of introducing me to Dr. Kay Scarpetta and give me some insight into her backstory. Whilst doing this is manages to develop a well plot line full of mystery. I will pre warn you about the amount of description involving the autopsies! For
Apr 24, 2012 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Book Series 2 9 Mar 31, 2021 12:24AM  
Chiave di Lettura: Postmortem 1 3 Sep 07, 2020 10:18AM  
Around the Year i...: Postmortem, by Patricia Cornwell 1 20 Nov 20, 2016 07:49PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell 2 13 Jun 10, 2015 03:58AM  
Casual Readers: Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell 41 38 Jul 02, 2014 03:56PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Déjà Dead (Temperance Brennan, #1)
  • The Surgeon (Rizzoli & Isles, #1)
  • Along Came a Spider (Alex Cross, #1)
  • 밀레니엄 1 상: 여자를 증오한 남자들 (Millennium 1: Phase Millennium: The men hate women)
  • 1st to Die (Women's Murder Club, #1)
  • A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance, #1)
  • The Enemy (Jack Reacher, #8)
  • When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware, #1)
  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter, #1)
  • The Man in the Brown Suit (Colonel Race #1)
  • The Black Echo (Harry Bosch, #1; Harry Bosch Universe, #1)
  • The Client
  • The Firm
  • The Pelican Brief
  • The Big Sleep
  • The Bat (Harry Hole, #1)
  • One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)
  • The Bone Collector (Lincoln Rhyme, #1)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
see: Patricia Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell's first title: Postmortem was published under Patricia Daniels Cornwell

Various editions of her other titles are published under Patricia D. Cornwell, which are also found here.


Other books in the series

Kay Scarpetta (1 - 10 of 25 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)

Articles featuring this book

With clever detectives, missing jewels, murderous women, daring spies, and more, mysteries and thrillers deliver page-turning delight with...
315 likes · 351 comments
“The dead have never bothered me. It's the living that I fear.” 72 likes
“Survival my only hope. Success my only revenge” 47 likes
More quotes…